TOKYO, Jan. 28 -- Japanese shipments of aluminium products amounted to 1.7 million tonnes in 2009, down 21.7 percent from the previous year, with the recovery looking mixed depending on the sector, an industry association said.
The Japan Aluminium Association said on Thursday that last year's shipment figure was the lowest since 1986.
Tetsu Takahashi, chairman of the association, said: "I think we can say that overall demand has recovered to a little over 80 percent (of a peak year) just as we expected ... however, the pace of the recovery varies between sectors."
Japan's demand for industrial metals, including aluminium, tumbled from late 2008 due to the global economic downturn, which forced automakers and other top manufacturers to cut production.
For a graphic on Japan's aluminium shipments, click on: link.reuters.com/zyg36h
"The recovery in the automobile sector has been solid, but construction demand remains slumped and cannot be described as having recovered," Takahashi told a news conference.
Industry officials remain worried about the pace of recovery from this year as Japan's economy remains fragile.
Japanese shipments of aluminium products rose 9.1 percent in December from a year earlier to 155,925 tonnes, association data showed.
That was down 5.4 percent from November's 164,859 tonnes.
Japan is Asia's largest importer of primary aluminium, with annual demand estimated at about two million tonnes.
Japan's aluminium imports in January to November plunged to about 1.2 million tonnes, however, on lower demand for the metal, which is also used in packaging.