Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry wants further downsizing of the Japanese chemical industry. A METI survey has concluded that the emergence of shale gas as a low-cost feedstock in North America and China’s development of coal as a feedstock have made it too difficult for Japan’s petrochemical industry to compete globally. The survey was conducted in accordance with the Industrial Competitiveness Enhancement Act that Japan adopted late last year. Japanese chemical companies have already taken their own downsizing steps in recent years. In February, Mitsui Chemicals and Idemitsu Kosan agreed to close a phenol plant. Last year, Mitsubishi Chemical and Asahi Kasei said they would shut down an ethylene plant and downstream facilities, and Sumitomo Chemical announced the closing of an ethylene cracker.