Japan's crude steel output fell 7 percent in May from a year earlier, the ninth straight monthly fall, as slack car consumption and slower government spending on public works battered steel demand.
The continued decline is in contrast with recent data which underlined an upbeat mood among Japanese manufacturers and retailers.
In May, steel production slid to 8.92 million tonnes, the Japan Iron and Steel Federation said on Friday.
"Automakers are still making production adjustments due to high inventories. That is affecting steel demand," said a researcher at the federation.
"Behind the weaker steel output was also a drop in public works due to slower budget implementation by the government than a year ago. But that will likely change from July as the budgets are expected to be executed," he said.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) said in April that Japan's crude steel output for April-June is forecast to drop 7.8 percent from a year earlier to the lowest for the quarter in six years.