Paragraph entered by Atlantic migration, in order for SteelFirst articles to display correctly on Metal Bulletin.

Auto production moved down by 9.7% to 777,656 units in the first month of the year, making this the seventh consecutive decrease on a year-on-year basis as companies struggle with a contraction in local demand following the rise in the country’s consumption tax in April last year.

Output of passenger cars dipped 11% to 656,943 units, while production of trucks slid just 0.2% to 110,120 units, according to Jama’s figures.

Bus output saw a 15.6% contraction, to 10,593 units.

Meanwhile, domestic automobile sales in Japan totalled 401,366 units, down 19.1%, with shipments of passenger car collapsing 20.7% to 344,040 units and those of trucks falling 8.6% to 56,590 units.

Local sales of buses, on the other hand, were up by 26.7% to 736 units.

An exactly opposite trend was seen in the case of exports, according to Jama.

Japanese carmakers exported 3.9% more passenger cars in January this year than in the corresponding month of 2014, at 296,932 units, and 17.8% more trucks, at 35,327 units, while shipments abroad of buses dropped 11.7% to 9,613 units.

Automobiles accounted for roughly 45% of the total steel demand in Japan’s manufacturing industry between April and December 2014, according to figures from the Japan Iron & Steel Federation (JISF).