How to Survive in the Construction Industry
World Teacher's Message


The Question:

I run a business in the construction industry in Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan. The industry is suffering from a rise in aging workers through a decline in the number of young workers. Please tell us how we can gain more cooperation in the industry.

10 February 2013 at Happy Science, Yokohama Shoshinkan.


You are at a huge advantage if you have the industry know-how. I’m sure you’ll find that many things will go well for a while. [N.B. This lecture was given in 2013.]

The employment rate in the industry – including general contractors to subcontractors – is rising, and in fact there is a shortage of employees. It’s an industry where we will see many new enterprises spring up. This will continue under the Liberal Democratic Party government (at the time), and would accelerate if the Happiness Realization Party [HRP] assumed government.

When I read the monthly magazines in my Shinkansen seat pocket, I felt like I was reading The Liberty Magazine. Mr. Kasai the Honorary Chairman of the Central Japan Railway Company, who is now working to build a Maglev line, thinks along the same vein as Happy Science. If the HRP becomes the leading party in the Diet, I’m sure this good trend will accelerate.


Problems With the Ministry of Finance

Japan still has room for development, but we are at a stage where we need another round of innovation. The people at the Ministry of Finance are generally bad at management, and they’re retarding Japan’s progress. That’s why I’m speaking up and trying my best to make them change their opinions.

The big problem is that they don’t differentiate between the “country’s debts”, the “government’s debts” and the “people’s debts”. They think they all mean the same thing. They think that the government’s debts are the country’s debts, and therefore they’re the people’s debts. So they reduce government spending and instill fear in the populace by saying, “Japan is in a financial deficit and we’re going to become like Greece.”

But in reality, about half of the government’s debts are government bonds. Some individuals purchase bonds directly, or otherwise financial institutions purchase bonds with people’s deposits. In other words, the money that is purchasing those bonds comes from the people.

The people are creditors to over 95% – actually something like 97.5% – of the government debt. The people are effectively lending the government money.

In once sense this is the final form of democracy. The people own the government, and the government is serving the people. The people lend money and make the government work for them, so it’s not such a tragic situation after all. The bureaucracy is lying: it’s still possible to expand your businesses.

The government talks about debt, but really, it doesn’t matter if the government collapses. If it does, all we have to do is rebuild it. Japan owns about US$ 1 trillion in U.S. Treasury securities. Japan could easily use it as collateral to print more JPY.

The construction industry is packed with potential because it can contribute directly to the country’s development. It can create opportunities for Japan to undergo major changes in the future.


Soft Assets for Added Value

That being said, the problem of survival persists. It is not easy to create a new business considering how there are so many large ones out there already. I think you should aim for the niches first.

Think about what big businesses can’t do: where their weak spots are. The construction industry is centered on hard assets, so the niche would be in soft assets. Gather your cooperators and research if there is an area where you can create added value. This can open up a path.

For example, office buildings in Tokyo sometimes have interiors with thin bamboo stalks planted in between glass. These are made specifically for offices. If they were thick stalks it would take up too much space, so people sell thin bamboo to maintain spaciousness in office interiors.

So even if it’s a really small thing – like this idea – think and research how you can create something new with added value. Aiming high from the beginning isn’t always good. Start by developing your own soft assets.

The general contractor industry will make huge leaps for a while, so during that period, work hard in thinking about what niches there might be for you to fill. And remember that two heads are better than one: it’s better to have other people thinking with you.


Thinking About Design and Colour

First you should gather your cooperators and think about creating something related to soft assets in the construction industry, and then present proposals to other medium to large businesses.

Thinking about developing a business that can say, “We can create great added value in this area.” The industry will be grateful.

Happy Science is running two high schools, and there are certain things that are different from other schools. For example, we had to develop our soft assets thinking about how to maintain the religious aspect. We had our major contractors establish a research department to study what would happen if they incorporated elements of religious architecture.

It may be good if you investigate how you can incorporate elements in your buildings that will attract people.

Another thing I notice when looking at buildings in Japan, is the lack of colour. Compared to buildings in Europe and other regions, Japanese buildings are not colourful, especially on the outside: they all look grey. It is aesthetically lacking. So there is much room for effort in developing colour and design.

Many Islamic countries have Embassies in Minato and Shinagawa Cities, Tokyo. They probably make those Arabic geometric patterns in Japan, but nonetheless those buildings stand out.

So there is a lot of potential in thinking about design and colour. If you’re establishing a new business you should start with focusing on the soft assets: it would be too hard to start with the hard assets.

All this being said, it is also necessary to study. If you study hard about things related to your business and gather like-minded people, you have a chance at success.

The industry has lots of potential, so find those niches that larger businesses don’t have time to think about, and slip in through there.


A Business That Can Dissolve Local Anti-Construction Campaigns

Or you can even establish a business that specializes in convincing the local residents about the benefits of constructing a new building. In Japan, locals often passionately resist and oppose the construction of new buildings. City development plans fail because the opposition campaigns have grown to such a pitch that they have turned into organisations, and these anti-campaign packages appear wherever there are planned construction sites.

They’re probably backed by the communist party and workers unions. The same packages are used everywhere, so you could develop a “vaccination” for these anti-campaigns. So you could create a vaccination business against local anti-construction campaigns to dissolve them. This would bring happiness to many people.

I think it’s all related to residents egos. In this sense, totalitarian countries like China are better off, because those who oppose the Party are purged! [Audience laughs.] The government can just purchase any property and development it all they like. In this sense the communist powers have quite an advantage, but in a free country like Japan, these communist powers become an opposing force that stops us from constructing buildings.

A major trading company is now building some apartments near where I live, and around it you see lots of banners saying, “We Say ‘No!’ To Greedy Profit Apartments”. It’s a tall building: that’s all it is. But they’re opposing the construction because the building will block their sun.

We can see that this campaign will eventually jeopardize the relationship between the local residents. They probably think that a tall new building in the area will drag down the prices of their three-story apartments, but in actuality, a growing local population will attract shop owners, expanding the trading area and bringing prosperity.

There are many places in Japan that are unable to develop due to a strong sense of private rights. Then yakuza can easily come along and speculate on real estate.

So what you could do is develop a soft asset business that can dissolve and “vaccinate” local anti-construction campaigns, but not like the opportunistic yakuza. This business could potentially grow very big. There are demands for it everywhere. Happy Science would happily hire you. [Audience laughs.] I would even make a deal right now.

The anti-construction package always gets in our way. Because we’re a religion, they get scared thinking that the local property and real estate prices will drop, or that they’ll get involved in something nasty. But usually within a year they come apologizing that they were wrong.

Anyway, these campaigns are everywhere, but without the power to dissolve them, we cannot build anything good. There are huge buildings everywhere in China, but in Japan these resistance campaigns get in the way and we cannot build them. They’re stopping the growth of our national wealth.

You will most likely succeed if you establish a soft asset business specializing in solving this issue, because the demand for it is very high.

How to Survive in the Construction Industry
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