A Wine Tasting and Discussion about Japan Meeting was held on November 11, 2016 as always at the representative’s home. The guests included Ms. Seiko Hashimoto, a Member of the House of Councilors who competed a total of seven times in the Summer and Winter Olympic Games; Mr. Jun Takada, a professor at Sapporo Medical University who won the 4th “True Interpretations of Modern History” Best Seiji Fuji Award; Mr. Yoshinori Katori, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs Adviser who has been active as a diplomat all over the world – including Germany – and his wife Mrs. Etsuko Katori; Mr. Ernesto Torres-Pereyra, the Minister Counsellor at the Embassy of the Dominican Republic – the Caribbean island nation – and his wife Alexandra Valova-Bowles; Mr. Kenichi Yoshizumi, the Mayor of Shinjuku where Shinjuku Station – the busiest station in the world in terms of passenger numbers – is located; and Yuki Mizutani, the President of DYM Co., Ltd. who has a physician’s license and who has developed various human resource recruiting, training and medical service businesses. They animatedly discussed various global topics ranging from politics to economics.
Ms. Seiko Hashimoto competed in the Olympics a total of seven times – four times at the Winter Olympics in speed skating and three times at the Summer Olympics in cycling. This is a world record that ranks alongside Noriaki Kasai who competed in the ski jump at seven different Olympics. Recently, a doping scandal involving Russia was uncovered in athletics and an investigation is ongoing to determine whether a ban at the state level should be implemented at the Olympics. If state-sponsored doping took place, it would seem that this is something that has been ongoing from the socialist system there. The presence of drugs is investigated by urine analysis, but there were irregularities in the past in which athletes switched their own urine with that of those who were free of drugs. However, because a witness is now present up until the moment of urine collection, it is impossible to submit the specimen of another person. Nevertheless, new loopholes continue to be discovered, such as drugs that can slip undetected through inspections. Ms. Hashimoto became a Member of Parliament two decades ago. She said she wanted to become a Member of Parliament once she retired since her sports days because her brother-in-law and the president of the company she belonged to were both parliamentarians. In fact, when we look at the world of athletics, there are many cases of medalists becoming parliamentarians.
There are many hotels and pensions in the resort area of Europe that are fully equipped with medical institutions. It is possible to get back your health while having fun by taking a long-term stay at a resort that combines sports, tourism and healthcare facilities. It is necessary to look to create a health industry in Japan with such a program by taking advantage of approaches from the sporting world and the Tokyo Olympics.
The Dominican Republic is a beautiful island country in the Caribbean Sea. It has a population of a little over 10 million people. Since these people live in an area the size of 450,000 square kilometers, the population density is relatively high. This is the island that the Spaniards who first landed in the New World came to in 1492. They speak Spanish, but their culture is a dynamic mix of Spanish culture, original Dominican culture and African culture. The people who live on this island are also diverse in appearance.
There is currently a fierce contest to be the candidate for the Republican Party at the next presidential election in the United States. Mr. Marco Rubio, the Senator for the State of Florida, is finally attracting attention in Japan. The representative has long asserted that Mr. Rubio would be the best presidential candidate for Japan. He is still young at 44 years old, but he is strong in discussions and takes a hardline against China. He jointly sponsored and ensured the passage of a resolution in the Senate criticizing the Air Defense Identification Zone of the Senkaku Islands. He also has policy and debate skills. However, he is not a WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant). The Catholic John F. Kennedy and the African-American Barrack Obama are the only American presidents in the past who have not been WASPs. Will the Catholic Marco Rubio be able to win the election if he puts out the same image as Kennedy?
“The Path to Reconstruction in Fukushima as Seen through Fieldwork in Eastern Japan” is the title of the paper by Mr. Jun Takada that won the 4th “True Interpretations of Modern History” Best Seiji Fuji Award. Contrary to expectations that unjustified concerns toward Fukushima would be relieved through this award, the barrier of masochism grew even thicker. When control of nuclear fission was lost and a reactor exploded in Chernobyl, 30,000 people soon died due to exposure by the radiation. However, at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, a structure was subjected to a hydrogen explosion because of a delay to venting, so the amount of radioactivity dispersed into the atmosphere was completely different. The root of distrust toward nuclear power in Japan can be found in the Daigo Fukuryu Maru (S.S. Lucky Dragon 5) Incident of 1954. This ship was exposed to radiation from a hydrogen bomb test by the U.S. military. Many of the sailors on this ship suffered liver dysfunction and one of them died from this. In fact, they did not develop liver dysfunction due to the impact of the radiation. Their liver dysfunction occurred because they received a transfusion of blood that contained the hepatitis virus due to blood sales. Many Japanese people suffered from the same problem at that time. Moreover, although the residents of Bikini Atoll, where the nuclear experiment was conducted, would have suffered the most damage, there was not one report of liver dysfunction among them. The media widely reported that the liver dysfunction of the sailors was linked to the exposure to radiation, but they did print any corrections even after the truth of the Daigo Fukuryu Maru (S.S. Lucky Dragon 5) Incident was revealed by Mr. Takada. Therefore, the almost allergic reaction Japanese people have toward radioactivity has still not been dispelled. It is important for the media, the administration and politicians to report and take action based on scientific understanding. It is necessary to establish a third-party organization to continue to watch over the media industry in order to prevent news that ignores science.
The Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology at the time of the Tokaimura JCO Nuclear Accident in 1999 was Mr. Akito Arima, a physicist specializing in nuclear power and the former University of Tokyo President. He contacted nuclear power experts all over Japan immediately after the accident with many scholars visiting Tokaimura to carry out a thorough investigation of the area. Since the people of Tokaimura came to know of their views that were based on a great deal of scientific knowledge, there were absolutely no harmful rumors about this accident. Conversely, Prime Minister Naoto Kan drove away scientists from a zone within 22 kilometers at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident. If it were Prime Minister Abe, he would no doubt have dealt with the incident using the input of experts. That is a great shame.
We have reached the point when students only give answers to suit their teachers without having doubts about the teachings of that person to the extent they lack study. It is not possible to get a good grade if you have doubts in non-science subjects in entrance examinations. The best basic history textbook for junior high schools is published by Jiyusha – the one company that does not describe the Nanjing Incident – is the best as a history textbook for junior high schools. The textbook from Jiyusha has not been adopted very widely this year. However, my local area adopted the textbook from the similarly conservative Ikuhosha, as did the cities of Kanazawa, Komatsu and Kaga with friendly mayors. It may be that the step of adopting the textbook from Ikuhosha first and then using the one published by Jiyusha is necessary. On the other hand, the newly arrived history textbook from Manabiya is one filled with a masochistic view that describes fabrications such as the forced transportation of comfort women. This textbook has been adopted by elite schools (e.g. the Junior High School at Komaba, University of Tsukuba and Azabu Junior High School) that get many students into the University of Tokyo. This is a grave situation.
In the area of the old Shinjuku Koma Theater where the APA Hotel Shinjuku Kabukicho Tower opened this September, the place where there was a fountain in the center is currently under development as a park and this is scheduled to be completed in April 2016. Work is underway on the redevelopment of the area around this park to transform it into a bright city replete with hotels, movie theaters and the like. Shinjuku Station, where over three million people get on and off every day, is said to have the highest average number of passengers per day. Hotels were previously concentrated on the side of the west exit in Shinjuku, but now these are also starting to appear on the side of the east exit. Customers will find it easier to understand the more hotels there are here and there are also advantages for the hotels themselves. APA Hotel also purchased other land near Higashi-Shinjuku Kabukicho and is planning to build a hotel there too. The groundbreaking ceremony for this hotel will take place in the near future. Adding this facility to the total, there will be six hotels with 2,157 rooms in the Shinjuku district. Moreover, an order has been placed for the construction of a 350 room APA hotel in Fukushima. This hotel is scheduled to be built with external insulation. The outer wall will be given a heat insulating effect, so it will not be necessary to put heat insulation materials into the inner wall. This will make it possible to effectively use the space where the walls have become thinner.
Social infrastructure and the accommodation industry (e.g. hotels) must continue operations especially in a state of emergency. Many hotels closed for business during the Great East Japan Earthquake due to power and water outages in Sendai. However, APA Hotel housed free of charge those who had made reservations with the hotel and those in the nearby area with the first and second floors acting as an evacuation site under the orders of the representative. The hotel continued to provide all the sheets, food and water available in the hotel. Afterward, the hotel provided rooms free of charge to volunteers staying by themselves and at inexpensive rates to others who wanted to stay in the facility even after they were told there was no electricity or hot water. There will always be those among evacuees, researchers and medical personnel (e.g. Doctors without Borders) who hope to find a place to stay where they can keep out of the rain and dew in a state of emergency. While all the other hotels in the region closed for business, the APA Hotel was the only one that continued operations for such people after communicating to them that it would not be possible to provide them with service as normal. All the expressways (e.g. the Shuto Expressway) and railways came to a stop at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake. This caused turmoil that left many commuters stranded. It should be possible to use expressways and railways once a certain level of safety has been confirmed by carrying out a test run first. Infrastructure operators must make decisions that correspond with the needs of an overwhelming large number of people instead of fearing the risk of something that has a very low probability of occurring. A major problem at the time of an earthquake is checking the safety of elevators. The failure to restore the use of elevators as soon as possible makes movement and evacuation for people in high-rise buildings difficult. There is a need to develop technology capable of rapid safety checks (e.g. safety monitoring cameras and robots).
It is guaranteed that earthquakes will once again strike Japan. Even if a major earthquake hits Tokyo, the number of people who will die by becoming trapped under collapsed buildings and fires will be considerably lower than the Great Kanto Earthquake by reducing the structure of current buildings. Condominiums nowadays are resistant to earthquakes. It is very important to take measures to prevent furniture falling down (e.g. wire fasteners) because the thing that is scary now is becoming trapped under furniture. It will be possible to keep causalities from furniture collapsing inside the home to the minimum by the effect of relieving shaking with the latest seismic base isolation condominiums.
Vacation home rental in which residential apartments are rented for a fee as accommodation using services on the Internet have been arousing strong debate. There is strong opposition to vacation home rental from hotel and inn industry associations. On the other hand, Osaka Prefecture has passed vacation home rental regulations that recognize such services under certain conditions as a special case in the Hotel Business Act. Ota City in Tokyo is also looking to enact such legislation. There are various problems with guests staying in residential apartments: There are anxieties about different people each day staying in such places, noise from loud talking and the failure to follow the rules for putting out garbage. It is possible that vacation home rental will become very popular over the next few years in Japan. However, fundamentally, hotels are hotels and apartments are apartments with different functions and building methods. What will happen if some kind of incident occurs? Is not the demand for vacation home rental a temporary phenomenon – one which will not grow further in the future? We still lack enough hotels to handle people as we approach the Tokyo Olympics, but if we construct many accommodation facilities, we will have a surplus once the games are over. Hotels are something that will remain in place for three or four decades once built. Of course, hotels in host cities for the Olympics around the world are full up for about two months including the period before and after the event. Therefore, many people stay in hotels in neighboring cities a little further away from the host city. Surely it would be best if people who cannot stay in Tokyo find accommodation in Chiba or Saitama?