Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Japan: Making money thanks to the economic crisis.

If on one hand libraries and newspaper kiosks overflow with books and magazines that examine, analyze and comment on the current economic recession hitting Japan, then on the other hand, many people have begun to think that, if there are losers (layoffs and companies in the red), there must also be winners somewhere, i.e. individuals or companies actually benefiting from the crisis.

Some Japanese bloggers, for example — most of them experts in economics or with extensive experience in the business world — reported news they learnt about through colleagues and other sources confirming that there are some who have been earning much more money in the last months than in any period of prosperity.

The president of Castanet Inc. Chikara Ueki (植木力) in his blog reveals details of a “whispered conversation” [ja] he had with the president of another company that deals with the processing and sale of raw materials. While he claims that the words, “there is a crisis, we are not making a penny” are the first ones people say nowadays when they meet each other, there are actually some who are making money from this unsteady economic situation:

鉄などの素材に近い材料を一部加工して、販売している中小企業です。
その社長と数年ぶりにお会いして、私の方から「厳しい業界と思いますが、会社の方は大丈夫ですか」と質問しました。

They are small and medium companies which process and sell parts of raw materials like iron etc.
I met the president [of one of those companies] who I hadn't seen in a long time. “Seems like a tough industry [to be in right now],” I said to him, “how is your company doing?”

[…]

「植木さん この経済危機で売上が30%ダウンしたが、儲かっています。メーカー主導から私たちの時代になりました。 植木さん、わかりますか?」

[Then he answered]: “Mr. Ueki, with this financial crisis, sales have dropped 30%, but we are actually making profits. Our era has come — the manufacturers are no longer those who control [the market] anymore. Mr. Ueki, don't you see?”

[…]

今までは、価格が厳しく素材メーカーとユーザーの間に入り、加工作業が入っても粗利益は10%もなかった(口ぶりからして7%~10%と予想しました)
そのために、社長も従業員も現場で朝から晩まで働いても、儲からず、会社の維持がやっとの状態だったようです。
そこにやってきた、昨年前半の原油、鉄鋼など素材の値上ラッシュ、そして経済危機。
ユーザーからは値下げ要請があり、少し答えているとのこと。

In the past, the price [of a product] depended strictly on raw material producers and users; even with added processing, the gross margin [for this company] was lower than 10% (according to estimates, between 7% and 10%).
That is why, he said, both the president and the employees, despite working from morning to evening, didn't earn much, and why the company was only barely able to maintain its operations.
[However], in the first half of last year, all of a sudden the prices of crude oil, iron, steel and other raw materials shot up, followed by the economic crisis.
Users [began to] demand price reductions, [he said, and his company] has been meeting their needs, to some degree.

値下げしても儲かっている? 不思議な話しです。
その答えは、素材メーカーの経営環境にありました。
日本国内の素材メーカーは、減産のため生産ラインを止めると、再稼動のために莫大な費用がかかるので、生産ラインは止めたくない。

They are making profits despite the reduction in prices? This is a mystery.
The secret was in the raw material producers and their management environment.
In Japan, domestic raw material producers are reluctant to stop the production line because huge costs are required to put it back into operation again.

販売は、円高なので海外に出荷ではなく、日本国内で値引きをしても販売したい。
つまり、販売力のある会社には特別価格の提示があるのです。
それも、不景気度が増すごとに値引きが多くなっているとのこと。
顧客への販売価格もメーカーからの仕入れ価格の両方の主導権を握った結果、粗利益が10%以上~40%にもなっているそうです。
昨年の値上ラッシュ以前、それ以下で価格交渉が出来ているからです。
売上が大幅ダウンしても、利益が増える(最高益を更新)のが理解できました。

Regarding sales, due to the rise in the exchange rate of the Yen, it is not possible to even consider shipping [products] abroad, so [producers of raw materials] hope to sell domestically, even if this means reducing prices.
In other words, companies that have selling power can set a special price.
The more the recession worsens, the more frequently price reduction is applied.
And as a result of the fact that they have now managed to take over control of both the selling price to the customer and the buying price from the manufacturers, the gross margin [for the companies in the processing industry] has climbed higher than 10%, up to 40%.
Since last year, after the sudden rise in prices, it has become possible for these companies to negotiate the price.
They realized that even with a drastic reductions in sales, their profit increases (and set new records for highest profits).

100年に一度と言われている経済危機、考え方を変えると100年に一度のチャンスかもしれない。不況業種も含め、全ての産業に言えることかもしれません。
ただ、事例の通り何もしなくてもチャンスは生まれるのではなく、コツコツとやってきたご褒美だと思います。

By changing one's perspective, this crisis which it is said happens only once every hundred years can be seen as a chance that only comes along once every hundred years. This may be said about all the industries, including those which are in dire situations.
However, as this case shows, it didn't just come out of nowhere. It is a reward for a long period of steady efforts.
By id:maxmana

By id:maxmana

According to some minor media [ja], there are some business sectors and some companies in particular whose balance sheet has been doing well since Japan entered in recession and the threat of a return to bubble times has made consumers more cautious. The fast food [ja] industry and the retailers of no-branded, medium-quality products seem to be very popular across all generations of consumers. The same can be said for the e-commerce service providers [ja], as buying online is said not to give people the feeling that they are actually spending money.

id:Warabidani comments [ja] on an article [ja] published on the news aggregator Netallica, which quotes a Forbes ranking of the 40 richest Japanese men. The top two positions are occupied by the President of the clothing company Uniqlo [ja] and by the honorary President of the pachinko company Sankyo [ja].

柳井会長は前年の6位(47億ドル、約4400億円)から一気に14億ドル(約1300億円)も資産を増やしてのトップに躍り出た。
いくら会長でも役員報酬が1300億円もあるはずがない。どうやら持ち株が値上がりしたためのようである。

The President [of the clothing company Uniqlo] Mr. Yanai, who came in sixth last year (4,7 billion dollar, about 440 billion Yen) jumped to the top [of the ranking] with a sudden increase of 1.4 billion dollars (about 130 billion Yen) in his personal fortune. He may the president, but even an executive's wages cannot be 130 billion Yen. It would seem to be due to the rise in price [of shares] brought on by shareholders [ja].

パチンコ人気もまだ健在ですね。パチンコは不況に強いのかねえ?
3位に転落した任天堂の山内相談役。「任天堂どうした?」
いえいえ、ここも儲けまくっている。

Also, the pachinko industry is still in good health. Pachinko seems to resist the recession pretty well, no?
Nintendo‘s counselor [ja] Mr. Yamauchi fell to 3rd place. “What happened to Nintendo?”
Nothing bad, they are still making a lot of money.

Is it possible that all these companies, which are really earning money despite the crisis, have something in common? To answer to this question, Kôsuke Ideguchi (出口康介) has traced a profile of the emerging companies, basing the analysis on his ten years of experience.

それらの企業の特徴を考えてみると共通した特徴が見えてくる。
1)時流を読むのが上手い(不況期にあったマーケティングができて
  いる)
2)本業に関連する新規事業に積極的に取り組んでいる
3)本業において一点突破できる強みを持っている
4)新規事業で本業の強みを上手く活かせている
5)社長の決断力と実行力があり、初動までのスピードが早い
6)業種を問わず上手くいっている企業の取り組みを取り入れている
 (素直で勉強好きである)
7)定期的に経営戦略を見直しして柔軟に適切な戦略に変えている
8)利益が出ていても常に危機感を持って商売している
9)社員のためにお金を使っている(人材育成)
10)若手(幹部)で会社をグングン引っ張るリーダーがいる(人材づくり)

Considering the characteristics of the companies [that are reporting very good results], we can observe some common features.
1) They are able to interpret the trends of the times (they have a marketing [strategy] for the recession period).
2) They are proactive towards the new business [opportunities] related to their principal occupation.
3) Their strength is in their ability to excel in every sector of their business.
4) They are good at making use of their strengths when they embark on new activities.
5) The president has determination and is a person of action, and he has made moves very quickly.
6) They adopt the approach used by companies that are doing well, regardless of the type of industry [that company is in] (they are honest and studious).
7) They revise their managing strategy regularly and change it accordingly, with flexibility.
8) Even when they are earning good profits, they still operate their business keeping in mind that a crisis may occur.
9) They use money for the benefit of employees (personnel training).
10) The executives are young and there is a leader with energy who acts as a driving force for the company (fostering of talent).

7 comments

Cancel this reply

Join the conversation -> rachete

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.