Current Status of the Japanese Steel Industry

The Japanese steel industry has contributed to reducing CO2 as a countermeasure against global warming by achieving the world’s highest level of energy efficiency in production processes through constant efforts to save energy, supplying lightweight, high-strength, and highly functional steel materials, and promoting energy-saving technologies developed in Japan overseas. Previous efforts to reduce CO2 in production processes and issues we are currently facing are explained here.

CO2 Emissions in the Steel Industry

  • Of all CO2 emissions that came from energy in Japan in FY2019 (1,028.78 million tons), the steel industry accounts for 15% (150 million tons).
  • Companies have actively introduced energy-saving equipment and developed technologies for environmental countermeasures against global warming.

The figures were calculated after allocating the emissions caused by electric utilities generating power for final demand sectors according to power consumption. Machinery includes the metal product manufacturing industry, and chemical industry includes the production of petroleum and coal products.
The charts were created based on the “Data of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Japan (FY1990–2020) (Final Figures)” released by the Ministry of the Environment.

Social Demand for CO2 Reduction

  • Consumers’ awareness of SDGs and global warming has been raised.
  • Users have started to indicate concrete targets for CO2 reduction in the supply chain.
  • Steel manufacturers are sharing the notion; “Tackling Reduction of CO2 in the Steel Industry” and considering how to respond to the demands.

What is ethical consumption?

Goal 12 of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is “Responsible consumption and production.”

The 17 international goals set in the UN General Assembly in September 2015 include “securing sustainable consumption and production patterns” in addition to poverty, hunger, energy, climate change and peaceful society.

(Source) Consumer Affairs Agency: “Survey on the awareness of ethical consumption in August 2020” and others

Higher awareness among consumers regarding ethical consumption

Everyone should take actions as much as possible for problems such as natural disasters, environmental destruction, and resource depletion.


It is acceptable for prices to increase when purchasing ethical products and services.


Demand for CO2 reduction from users

  • Users have started to indicate concrete targets for CO2 reduction in the supply chain.
  • Steel manufacturers are considering how to respond to the demands while sharing with users the fact that “steel is a field in which CO2 reduction is difficult.”

(Source) Consumer Affairs Agency:

Reduction Target of the Steel Industry

CO2 Reduction Target of the Japanese Steel Industry for 2030

CO2 emissions from energy compared to FY2013:

Reduction by 30%
(approx. 57.9 million tons)

This shall be met on the assumption that requirements are fulfilled that are necessary to meet macro assumptions in the Japanese Government’s Energy Basic Plan and to take various measures (such as promoting energy conservation by introducing BAT, etc.; utilizing waste plastic; introducing innovative technology that is now being developed and will be available in around 2030; and utilizing raw materials and fuels that contributes to CO2 reduction).

Carbon-neutral Action Plan of the Japanese Steel Industry

(Source) The Japan Iron and Steel Federation/Steel industry’s efforts for measures against global warming,
Report on the progress of the voluntary action plan (

Efforts Made by the Steel Industry (COURSE 50 Project)

  • Japan started the development of hydrogen reduction steelmaking technology (COURSE 50) ahead of other countries in 2008.
  • The country started tests using a 12 m3 test blast furnace (approx. 1/400 of major commercial blast furnaces in Japan) in 2016 to verify for the first time in the world that the reduction process can reduce CO2 emissions by 10% or more with hydrogen-containing gas injection.
  • The chemical absorption and physical adsorption methods that are required to separate and capture CO2 were established. These technologies further promoted energy conservation for CO2 separation and recovery by utilizing unused exhaust heat within steelworks.

    COURSE 50 test blast furnace

    NEDO & The Japan Iron and Steel Federation: COURSE 50

    COURSE 50 CO2 capture and separation facility

    NEDO & The Japan Iron and Steel Federation: COURSE 50

  • From FY2020, The Japanese steel industry extracted issues to be addressed for the realization of carbon neutrality and formulated a roadmap (through FY2021). The achievements have been utilized in the Fund Project.

Issues of Realizing Carbon-neutral Steelmaking

Cost increase for realizing carbon-neutral steelmaking

  • Huge R&D costs
    Hundreds of billions of yen will be required by 2030, and further development costs will be needed for 2050.
    (The government’s support for R&D will be necessary, in addition to the Green Innovation Fund.)
  • Enormous investment in the application of technologies in facilities
    It is estimated that investment of around 10 trillion yen will be required in the overall steel industry as capital investment for realizing CN. (Establishment of measures to support investment in facilities)
  • Costs for green hydrogen and power and for investment in infrastructure development
    (Setting industrial prices to be on an equal footing with other countries)

Social collaboration for realizing carbon-neutral steelmaking

  • National strategies to realize a virtuous cycle of environment and growth
  • Strengthening of industrial competitiveness by securing an equal footing in the international competition
  • Integrated realization of policies that lead to business opportunities
  • Forming a consensus of bearing costs with the whole society
  • Promotion of collaboration with other industries, etc.