H.E. Dr. Khalil Hassan, the ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to Japan, was deeply impressed by Mr. Toshio Motoya’s “Words to Live By,” so he invited him as an official guest to the Kingdom of Bahrain. There, Mr. Motoya spoke about the philosophies behind his successful business with H.M. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the sovereign of the country, H.R.H. Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister, H.R.H. Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, and some of their Excellencies the Ministers of the Kingdom of Bahrain, as well as some important persons in the economic world. Mr. Motoya also engaged in various exchanges of opinions about the future of the Kingdom of Bahrain.
A constitutional monarchy that is being democratized and has quickly achieved modernization
The Kingdom of Bahrain is the 77th country visited by Mr. Toshio Motoya. It consists of multiple islands in the Gulf Region, of which the main is Manama Island. Being on a quite small area that is approximately the size of the 23 wards of Tokyo and Kawasaki City together, the Kingdom of Bahrain accommodates a population of roughly 1.2 million people, of which around 570,000 are Bahraini and half are foreign nationals. The Kingdom of Bahrain has a very long history that begins around 3,000 BC, when it appeared under the name of “Dilmun.” At that time, civilization was already flourishing in this area; roads, houses, and countless tombs have been discovered. This area prospered because of its major position for maritime trade that linked the Mesopotamian and Indus Valley civilizations. Afterwards, Dilmun weakened for a period of time together with the collapse of the Indus Valley civilization. However, it regained power as a trading spot, and continued enjoying gentle prosperity from the 1st century BC to the 15th century AD.
Once the Age of Exploration began in Europe, this area experienced a series of stormy events as it was captured by Portugal. The Al Khalifa family that defended the country from England, was devoted to diplomacy, and guaranteed security by entering into protection treaties came to rule the Kingdom of Bahrain at the end of the 18th century. The Kingdom of Bahrain was also the first of the gulf countries to produce oil and carry out prompt modernization. In 1971, the Kingdom of Bahrain became independent from Great Britain as an emirate. The enthronement of H.M. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the current sovereign of the Kingdom of Bahrain, that was carried out in 1999 was followed by political reforms in 2002, after which the constitution was reformed and the country was switched to a monarchial system. Then, the Kingdom of Bahrain pressed forward with democratization. The National Assembly with a bicameral system was established, and the post of prime minister was created.
The Kingdom’s principal industry was exports of oil-related products; afterwards, the country has also been enriched with other functions as a financial center for the Middle East. In recent years, great efforts have been made towards sightseeing policies and a full range of resort facilities such as hotels and spas on the man-made Amwaj Islands has been built. The Kingdom of Bahrain is also concentrating its efforts on environmental maintenance.
Starting directly after its independence in 1971, the Kingdom of Bahrain entered into diplomatic relations with Japan. The two countries have been sharing a very good relationship. Also, the Bahrain Economic Development Board, which is chaired by H.R.H. the Crown Prince, has six overseas offices, one of which is in Japan. In addition, after the Great East Japan Earthquake that struck in March 2011, H.M. the King and H.R.H. the Prime Minister sent letters of sympathy to H.I.M. the Emperor of Japan and Prime Minister Naoto Kan.
H.E. Dr. Khalil Hassan wanted Mr. Motoya to come to the Kingdom of Bahrain as an official guest in order to explore business opportunities and discuss expanding APA Hotel’s business in the Middle East with its leadership. Moreover, His Excellency wished to present Mr. Motoya as a life model of success for the Bahraini youth to inspire the new generation with his philosophy that underpins his business success, and to share the secrets behind this success.
Deepening friendly relations through a second meeting with H.M. King Hamad
First, Mr. Motoya had the chance to meet H.M. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in the Akasaka Palace during His Majesty’s first historical state visit to Japan in April of the current year. Therefore, Mr. Motoya’s visit to Bahrain was the second time during which he met H.M. the King who was enthroned as the 10th-generation Emir of Bahrain, and whose title changed from “Emir” to “King” after the political reforms that switched the country to a constitutional monarchy.
During this second meeting, Mr. Motoya mentioned the common features of Japan and the Kingdom of Bahrain, saying, “While Japan has a wonderful tradition as a ‘family nation’ led by H.I.M. the Emperor, Your Majesty’s esteemed country has a very long history operating in a ‘familial way,’ with the King as the leader of the nation.” He also suggested that the Kingdom of Bahrain should aim to become more popular as a travel destination in the future. To that end, in addition to five-star hotels for wealthy people, the Kingdom of Bahrain should increase the number of new urban-style hotels like APA’s, which have compact guest rooms with specifications that resemble high-class hotels with the difference of reasonable prices.
H.M. King Hamad was very interested in what Mr. Motoya said, and replied, “I certainly hope for the development of hotel chains like APA Hotel in the Kingdom of Bahrain, and also for the expansion of Mr. Motoya’s business in the Middle East.” Subsequently, H.M. the King congratulated Mr. Motoya for his admirable success. Moreover, since Mr. Motoya is a fan of car racing, he mentioned his experience riding in an F-15 at the speed of Mach 2.7 and the gravitational force of 7.5 G’s. H.M. King Hamad listened with interest to these and other stories. Finally, H.M. King Hamad presented Mr. Motoya with a humble present in order to commemorate his visit to the Kingdom. Mr. Motoya’s meeting with His Majesty was widely covered by Bahraini televisions and newspapers.
On the day before his talk with H.M. King Hamad, Mr. Motoya also met with His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Bahrain. His Royal Highness pointed out the importance of economic relations between Japan and the Kingdom of Bahrain, and emphasized Bahrain’s position as a gateway to investments in the Middle East. Mr. Motoya praised the good investment climate in the Kingdom of Bahrain, and the meeting was a harmonious one from beginning to end.
The Kingdom of Bahrain is a major tourist destination that is visited by 800,000 people each month
In addition to the meetings with H.M. the King and H.R.H. the Crown Prince, on October 23, 2012, Mr. Motoya had appointments with H.R.H. the Prime Minister as well as six government ministers. He first visited the office of H.E. Dr. Hassan bin Abdulla Fakhroo, the Minister of Industry and Commerce, where he had a long discussion with His Excellency. H.E. the Minister said, “I know of the APA Group’s rapid progress in Japan. The Bahraini government would provide extensive support if APA Group were to advance into the Kingdom.” Mr. Motoya replied, “Right now, the APA Group’s policy is to become the undisputed top in Japan. However, we will seriously consider advancement into the Kingdom of Bahrain.” It is worth noting that the Kingdom of Bahrain is actually visited by 800,000 tourists each month, of which each year five million tourists come from Saudi Arabia alone. Mr. Motoya also explained that APA Group is currently implementing the “Summit Five” strategy in Japan, and is simultaneously carrying out a total of 80 projects comprised of 30 condominiums and 50 hotels with a focus on the Tokyo city center. In the hotel business, the company’s goals are to expand the current number of 30,000 hotel guest rooms to 50,000 by the end of March 2015, and to expand the current number of five million APA Hotel members to nine million.
Mr. Motoya also mentioned that the global hotel market consists of many deluxe and low-priced hotels. However, there are few hotels like APA Hotel, which offers smaller rooms with high quality, and where businessmen can afford to stay. He believes that there is a need for such hotels, and said that he actually received offers from many countries to establish similar projects. Mr. Motoya obtained the recognition of H.E. Dr Fakhroo, who mentioned that the business model of new urban-style hotels, which Mr. Motoya created 29 years ago, seems to be accepted throughout the world.
Next, Mr. Motoya met with H.R.H. Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain. H.R.H. the Prime Minister is also well informed about Japan, which he admires. His Royal Highness used to be an engineer; this influential person was fully in charge of town planning for Manama, the capital city, after the country’s independence from England in 1971. Now that around 40 years have passed since independence, the streetscapes featuring many modern buildings have been developed along with the entire country. In this sense, H.R.H. Prince Khalifa shares many common features with Mr. Motoya, who created the current size of the APA Group from scratch.
Mr. Motoya expressed his admiration of the growth of Kingdom of Bahrain, and thanked the people who welcomed him with hospitality in this country.
Gathering money from the Gulf Council Countries and investing it in numerous projects
Next, Mr. Motoya visited State Minister for Electricity and Water Affairs H.E. Dr. Abdul-Hussain bin Ali Mirza. When H.E. Ambassador Hassan was appointed as Minister of Health prior to being posted in Japan as an ambassador, H.E. Dr. Mirza was serving as Minister of Energy. Since then, they have shared a very close relationship. H.E. Dr. Mirza is a very ambitious person who wants to implement many things in relation to his duties. He also has a great respect for Japanese people, and said that he would like to receive business-related cooperation from Japan. In fact, last week, an observation team for solar power generation visited the Kingdom from Japan. In 1932, the country was the first gulf coast country where oil production began, plus it was also the first to construct oil refineries in 1936. In the recent years, democratization has been implemented on a grand scale in the Kingdom of Bahrain, and the country has carried out very advanced economic management.
In response, Mr. Motoya spoke of the electric power provision situation in Japan. He said that unstable types of power, such as solar and wind power generation, are not a good match for Japan, which requires a lot of stable electricity. He also said that the system of purchasing large amounts of renewable energy like solar and wind power cannot be maintained without low-cost nuclear power generation. Furthermore, he also mentioned that Japan still needs to depend on thermal power; therefore, the importance of sea-lanes like the Strait of Hormuz, which allows the transport of the crude oil which serves as fuel, is only growing.
Afterwards, Mr. Motoya visited H.E. Mr. Kamal Ahmed Mohammed, Minister of Transportation and Chief Executive of the Economic Development Board. H.E. Minister Kamal is only 42 years old, and is a very cheerful gentleman. He is well informed about Japan as he worked before on a project at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Yokohama City, and had lived in Japan for six months. Due to these factors, coupled with H.R.H. the Prime Minister’s fondness of Japan, it is hoped by H.E. Minister Kamal that there will be an increase in cooperation with Japan in several fields. The Kingdom of Bahrain is carrying out several large development projects, in which the government is serving as a holding company. H.E. Minister Kamal is also the vice chairman of this holding company. Since there is a great demand for hotels due to factors such as the five million yearly visitors from Saudi Arabia, it has been decided to carry out a project building two hotels in developed areas. His Excellency made a request to Mr. Motoya for the cooperation of the APA Group – which has hotels with 30,000 rooms and employs many people – to come to the Kingdom of Bahrain and implement the same policies that led to these outstanding results. In the Kingdom of Bahrain, neither individuals nor corporations are subject to any taxes including income, fixed assets, inheritance, or gifts. Also, since the legal issues all conform to those established in Western countries, it is easy to enter the Kingdom’s market place. H.E. Minister Kamal also hopes for more Japanese tourists to visit the country.
Mr. Motoya said that, when he began his hotel business, he put a lot of effort towards creating hotels with the highest operating ratios possible, thus making sure that the hotels are fully operating throughout the week and having the minimum vacant rooms possible both during weekdays and weekends. Consequently, in order to achieve his goal, Mr. Motoya created hotels that could be used by business people. This strategy helped the APA Hotel＆Resort Tokyo Bay Makuhari, which has 1,001 rooms, achieve a monthly operating ratio of 98.9 % during the month of August 2012.
Furthermore, APA Hotel features high-quality rooms that are kept as small as possible, but, on the other hand, are equipped with large televisions and baths, resulting in a successful balance. H.E. Minister Kamal was very interested in this strategy.
According to His Excellency the Minister, there are 200 banks in the Kingdom of Bahrain that are investing in various projects using a vast pool of funds gathered from the gulf countries. Currently, there are many four- and five-star luxury hotels, but few of the three-star class. Mr. Motoya said there must be a demand for hotels for businesspeople. He also mentioned that APA Hotel is planning to start operating in the Kingdom of Bahrain some time in the future.
It’s important to transmit information about Japan in English
Mr. Motoya also had a meeting with H.E. Shaikh Khalid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, the Deputy Prime Minister. First of all, His Excellency began by speaking of his desire to learn from Japan, which became one of the world’s most prominent economic powers after the destruction of World War II, despite having no natural resources. His Excellency also expressed his deep esteem and respect toward the kindness and wonderful nature of Japanese people.
In response, Mr. Motoya said that the Kingdom of Bahrain is the 76th foreign country he has visited, and that Japan is praised as a wonderful country by people in every corner of the world he has visited. However, Japanese people themselves are not proud of their own country. So, since Mr. Motoya thought this mentality is not appropriate and that Japanese people should rather be proud of their country, he is aiming to revive the country by promoting several activities such as the “True Interpretations of Modern History” essay contest. On the other hand, His Excellency said that Japanese people should have more pride in their country because it had become the world’s second largest economic power. Mr. Motoya said that Japan was number two, but has become number three after China. He also mentioned that if Japanese people worked harder, Japan would become prosper more. That’s why Mr. Motoya started the essay contest, and has established a private school called the Shoheijuku. His dream is to prepare students in the political field who can be leaders of Japan in the future, especially since his good friend Mr. Shinzo Abe has recently become the president of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). According to Mr. Motoya, he will certainly become the prime minister after the upcoming general election, which Mr. Motoya is very happy about.
H.E. Deputy Prime Minister Shaikh Khalid said that he had read the English-language version of the book of Mr. Motoya’s “Words to Live By,” and thought it was wonderful. Mr. Motoya said that true things are not being taught in Japan, and there are few opportunities to share such information overseas. According to Mr. Motoya, independent countries were formed in Africa and the Near and Middle East thanks to Japan. Therefore, the country should transmit more information, which is why Mr. Motoya posts English-language versions of the award-winning essays from the contest on its website so that people from across the world can read them. Also, thanks to the publishing of his monthly Apple Town magazine in English, Mr. Motoya was also able to become friends with people from around the world including ambassadors from various countries, namely H.E. Ambassador Dr. Khalil Hassan, which enabled him to visit the Kingdom of Bahrain. He believes that sharing information in English is a very important thing.
In addition, among the people who won prizes in the essay contest entitled “True Interpretations of Modern History,” we can name the Grand Prize winner of the first annual contest, Mr. Toshio Tamogami, the former chief of staff of Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force, the second winner of the contest, Mr. Tsuneyasu Takeda, the great-great-grandson of the Meiji Emperor, the third winner of the contest, Ms. Yuko Sanami, a young female journalist who has continued collecting the remains of Japanese soldiers who died in World War II, the fourth winner, Mr. Jun Takada, a specialist in radiation protection, and the fifth winner, Mr. Masaharu Isshiki, a former Japan Coast Guard (JCG) officer who leaked a video showing a Chinese fishing boat ramming into JCG patrol boats. It is worth mentioning, that according to Mr. Takada, only the tragic parts of the Fukushima nuclear accident are being reported, and his essay clearly states that the amount of released radiation is much smaller than that of the Chernobyl accident. Mr. Motoya advocated that Japan needs nuclear energy at this stage, and that it may have to maintain its nuclear power generation technologies, which are of the highest level in the world. It is also worth mentioning that each of the winners is a wonderful person whose activities are significantly changing Japan’s historical consciousness.
In response, H.E. Deputy Prime Minister Shaikh Khalid said that the Japanese economy will certainly prosper further if collective harmonic opinions were shared between political and business leaders like Mr. Motoya, who takes the initiative. Finally, Mr. Motoya requested H.E. Deputy Prime Minister Shaikh Khalid’s assistance regarding the early-stage abolition of the United Nations’ old “enemy clause,” as well as regarding the holding of the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Due to its history as a trade center, the Kingdom of Bahrain is a country of great hospitality
Next, Mr. Motoya met with H.E. Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, the Minister of Culture. Her Excellency has a great deal of pride of her country, and emphasized that the Kingdom of Bahrain is a nation with a very long history where culture has flourished since 5,000 years ago. First, a school was founded in 1899 in an area of the country that was very advanced at that time. Currently, H.E. Shaikha Mai is making great efforts for the management of the Bahrain Archaeological Museum, which was designed by Mr. Tadao Ando. Although there is a great number of museums in the gulf coast countries, this archaeological museum is one of the best according to H.E. Shaikha Mai. Her Excellency has visited Japan four times, encountered a great deal of Japanese culture, and has high respect for the country.
Afterwards, Mr. Motoya shared a meal with H.E. Ms. Sameera bint Ibrahim Rajab, Minister of State for Information Affairs. H.E. Minister Sameera is also a woman; there are apparently three female cabinet ministers altogether.
The main responsibilities of the Minister of State for Information Affairs are public relations related to the government; however, the responsibility of the Minister of Culture is to attract foreign tourists to the Kingdom of Bahrain. Everybody in the kingdom is very hospitable. Mr. Motoya received the impression that, because the Kingdom of Bahrain came to exist through trade from ancient times, its people have likely developed the ability to skillfully interact with people from various backgrounds.
This visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain was accomplished thanks to H.E. Ambassador Hassan’s deep interest in Mr. Motoya’s “Words to Live By.” Because of the ambassador’s efforts, Mr. Motoya was able to meet with many important people including His Majesty the King, H.R.H. the Prime Minister, H.R.H. the Crown Prince, and H.E. the Deputy Prime Minister. Through such dialogues, Mr. Motoya’s way of life as a philosopher and his advice related to the tourism industry as a businessman led to great feelings of harmony. This visit was very significant in light of the relationship between Japan and the Kingdom of Bahrain.