“I’m not quite sure how I feel about my wealth,” one of Japan’s youngest billionaires tells TIME from his office in Tokyo. “But I continue to work hard to create good businesses.”

Shunsaku Sagami, 33, owes his fortune—Forbes recently estimated his net worth to be $1.9 billion—specifically to the business of helping other businesses.

“From a young age,” he says, “I wanted to be a person who could solve problems in the world.”

One problem Sagami saw in his own life was the challenge of corporate succession in a country where the old vastly outnumber the young. Sagami has spoken often of his late grandfather, who ran a real estate agency in his hometown of Osaka but was forced to shutter the business when he retired and couldn’t find someone suitable to take it over.

After selling a startup, in 2018 Sagami founded M&A Research Institute, a mergers-and-­acquisitions advisory firm that harnesses artificial intelligence to match buyers and sellers. The firm specializes in connecting aging owners and CEOs of small and medium-size enterprises with successors, so that they don’t have to follow the same disappointing path his grandfather did. “The aging problem in Japan is serious—I think it is the most serious in the world,” Sagami says.

In 2019, Japan’s government estimated that by 2025 over 1.25 million small-­business owners would be 70 or older and lack a succession plan, with unsuccessful turnovers forecast to put about 6.5 million jobs at risk and a dent in Japan’s economy—the fourth largest in the world—of more than $100 billion.

Sagami’s firm similarly estimated last year that about 620,000 profitable companies in the country are at risk of closure because they have no successor.

That’s where Sagami’s unique AI-powered match­making system comes in. He takes pride in working quickly and charging clients only after a deal has been made, unlike industry peers that charge up front, and whose services he deems too slow and inefficient. And so far, M&A, which was publicly listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2022, has seen tremendous success.

Ko Sasaki for TIME

The company, which now has more than 300 employees and is working on some 400 deals at any given point, has done so well that it diversified last year into asset management at the request of clients who sold their businesses and needed help managing their newfound wealth. Sagami is also eyeing international expansion for the main brokerage business—as he knows Japan is far from the only country dealing with the problem of heirless businesses.

“The fact that my company’s matching service is independent of language is its strength,” he says. “If I have the chance, I’d like to use the services M&A has developed here in Japan and help other countries in similar ways.”

—With reporting by Lillian Loescher/Osaka

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