Private-equity firms including KKR & Co. and Carlyle Group Inc. are betting on a pickup in Japanese deal-making later this year as companies take steps to protect themselves against the coronavirus-fueled downturn.

"Corporate demand for consultation over future business models has been growing quite strongly” Kazuhiro Yamada, head of Carlyle’s Japan buyout advisory team, said in an interview. The firm is sitting on substantial amounts of "dry powder” for new transactions, having announced in March it raised ¥258 billion ($2.4 billion) for its fourth Japan buyout fund, more than double the size of its predecessor.

Industries that are faced with "very strong headwinds” due to the pandemic may seek to carve out non-essential operations for sale in order to focus on their core business, according to Hirofumi Hirano, chief executive officer of KKR Japan. Firms that are doing well might take the opportunity of such sales to better compete overseas, he added.