A Wine Tasting and Discussion about Japan Meeting was held as always on October 6, 2016 at the representative’s home. The guests included Mr. Hiroshi Hase, a member of the House of Representatives who has brought into existence 28 pieces of legislation in his 21-year career as a lawmaker; Mr. Afognon Kouakou Sedaminou, the Chargé D’Affaires ad Interim, Embassy of the Republic of Togo in Japan who was just appointed to Japan this August; Ms. Rachel Nelson, the Director of the Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in the Embassy of the United States ; Mr. Masami Takeshima, the Representative Director of Delta Agent Co., Ltd. who was in the same class as the astronaut Mr. Kimiya Yui in the Air Self-Defense Force; and Mr. Fumiya Sakow, the President of the Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan and a man with multiple other roles who has undertaken frequent translation/interpretation work while serving as a priest with a Ph.D. degree. They talked about topics with a rich international character including recent news.
The voting and ballot counting for the American presidential election will finally take place on November 8. We will probably know who has won on November 9 Japan time. Mrs. Clinton had the upper hand in the first televised debate. However, in the vice-presidential debate, Mr. Pence, the candidate put forward by Mr. Trump, outshone his Democratic Party rival. A recording of Mr. Trump making obscene remarks was released directly before the second televised debate. This meeting of the two candidates ended in the worst kind of mudslinging contest with no real debate taking place. The most provocative part of this presidential election for Japanese people is the remarks Mr. Trump made indicating approval for Japan to possess nuclear weapons. It would be good if the fact such a candidate has appeared on the scene becomes a wakeup call for Japan. It was believed that Mr. Trump would become more presidential when he was confirmed as the official candidate of the Republican Party. However, in fact, the situation has gradually become worse. Mrs. Clinton has a strong relationship with Xi Jinping while Mr. Trump has a strong relationship with Vladimir Putin. Who will the American public choose? It may be best for Japan if Mr. Trump wins and it becomes possible to encircle China with the U.S. and Russia acting together. There is also a joke that hotels in Canada will prosper if Mr. Trump wins because many Americans will abandon the U.S. in such an event. The system in the U.S. is such that one party or the other takes all the Electoral College voters at the state level. This means that it is best not to rely too much on the support level of the candidates at the national level. Looking at the situation realistically, it is likely that Mrs. Clinton will be able to win the majority of these Electoral College voters.
Both the candidates have expressed their opposition to the TPP. If President Obama is able to persist to the end and receive the approval of Congress for the TPP before his term of office expires in January, Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump will have to accept this. The TPP is opposed by many conservatives in Japan, but this should be considered pragmatically as an issue of whether to follow China or the United States. The US-Japan Security Treaty means that this country should participate in the TPP to follow America. In fact, the TPP will be economically beneficial for both Japan and the United States. The hope is that President Obama will fight hard for this up to the end, but there is hope even if such efforts prove fruitless. That is because there have been many presidential candidates who have changed their ideas after being elected to the office.
Californian rice that once smelled of oil has now become as delicious as Japanese rice. If this is sold inexpensively, would it not be better to import it into Japan? Sea urchin is harvested in the United States, but no one ate it in the old days. However, many people now eat this food due to the increase in the number of sushi restaurants there. The globalization of food is still progressing. Would it not be better for trade, including that involving agricultural crops, to expand even further? There is nothing wrong with marine products in terms of nutrition, but they all contain a small amount of mercury as a result of the food chain. People do not normally need to pay attention to this, but the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has called for pregnant women to be careful about this. For example, pregnant women should not eat too much bluefin tuna – only up to 80 grams per week.
The uproar concerning the new market in Toyosu is not dying down. While it is true that there is a problem with how information is disclosed in Tokyo, the media has fueled excessive anxiety over the safety of Toyosu. If people are so concerned about safety, what about the current state of Tsukiji Market? The facilities there have deteriorated dramatically and many rats call the area home. If an inspection was to be conducted in Tsukiji in the same way as with Toyosu, the atrocious numbers would surely cause people to panic. The media is kicking up a fuss over the fact that the underground water in Toyosu slightly exceeds the environmental standards. However, these environmental standards are for drinking water. The underground water in Toyosu will not be used for either drinking or cleaning. The media should make sure to report this fact and must not whip up excessive fears among the people.
Where will Governor Koike come down on this issue that she has taken up? She will no doubt get rid of the head of the market with whom she has had a long relationship as a sacrifice and then obtain a safety certificate in an environmental assessment before giving the go-ahead for the relocation. If this matter is not settled soon, it may adversely affect the Tokyo Olympic Games. The ability of Governor Koike, who has stirred up the media to such a great extent is admirable, but the problem is how to resolve this issue. If she does this well, it will become much easier to see her getting re-elected. However, the attitude of the media can change quickly. She will have to proceed with caution.
Delta Agent is involved in the export of defense equipment. The Japanese government changed the Three Principles on Arms Exports and established the Three Principles on Defense Equipment Transfers in 2014. A strict review is necessary, but it has now become possible to import and export weapons. Japan has signed defense equipment agreements that are a prerequisite for arms exports with Australia, France, India and the Philippines. Japan is also in negotiations with Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand to sign such agreements. Signing such agreements with countries in Asia will keep China in check as it embarks on a policy of expansion. There are great expectations for the process of these negotiations.
There was an incident announced by Mr. Kunio Oda, the former General of the Air Self-Defense Force, in June in which a Chinese fighter commenced an attack operation on an aircraft scrambled by the Air Self-Defense Force. This incident had a major impact on society about the extent of tensions on the front line of defense in Japan. The current standards which allow the Self-Defense Forces to use weapons conform to those of the police. The Self-Defense Forces are not allowed to attack unless they have first been attacked themselves. It will not be possible to win a battle under such conditions even if the Self-Defense Forces are equipped with good weapons. The law must be revised and the weapon use standards must be amended as soon as possible so that the Self-Defense Forces become an organization capable of properly protecting Japan. There is a chance to do this now because the forces seeking constitutional change won two thirds of the seats in the House of Councilors election this summer. First, a proposal should be made to change the parts of the constitution that everyone thinks are strange (e.g. the preamble) and achieve such amendments with a national referendum. Next, efforts should be made to revise the constitution in earnest. To that end, the term of office of Prime Minister Abe should be extended from six years in two terms to nine years in three terms. The constitution was created by the people. Therefore, it must also be amended by the people. Leaders need to thoroughly explain to the people why it is necessary to amend the constitution.
There is a traditional ball game in Romania called oina. This is exactly like baseball in terms of the size of the bat and ball. However, there are also many differences from baseball. For example, it is possible to score on both offense and defense. There are also eleven players on each team. The Romanian royal family cherished this game that is said to have its roots in baseball and polo in the same way as with cricket in the United Kingdom. This game has been a required part of physical education classes since 1899. The President of the Oina Federation in Romania has also visited Japan, where the similar baseball is popular, with a passionate desire to make this an Olympic sport and expand this game.
Dim lighting is traditional in guest rooms of hotels. Beds in hotels are used for a variety of purposes such as when packing bags and unfolding maps in addition to sleeping. However, the guest rooms of many hotels overseas are too dark and inconvenient. It is not possible to brighten rooms with dark specifications, but it is possible to darken rooms with bright specifications. APA Hotel has proposed the world’s first bright guest rooms with ceiling lights added to the traditional lighting for our new urban hotels. When this was introduced on a trial basis in APA Hotel Sugamo Ekimae, it was possible to sell these guest rooms for 1,000 yen more than others. It may well be that bright rooms become a trend in the future.
Hiroshima is a large city with wide roads and scrupulous urban planning. President Obama visited the city in May. The city was then enlivened by the victory of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp for the first time in 25 years in September. Then, on October 6, APA Hotel Hiroshima Ekimae Ohashi opened with 727 rooms – one of the largest in the Chugoku/Shikoku region. It is possible to walk to the baseball stadium in four minutes from Hiroshima Station. The number of foreign tourists to Hiroshima has increased since President Obama’s visit. The representative had a firm conviction that President Obama would visit Hiroshima during his term in office when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 and so started planning APA Hotel Hiroshima Ekimae Ohashi. This prediction was accurate and the number of tourists to Hiroshima is increasing. Meanwhile, APA Hotel Hiroshima Ekimae Ohashi has achieved full occupancy almost every day since it opened. A victory parade for the Hiroshima Carp is scheduled for November 5 and many more people are expected to stay in the hotel. APA Hotel will open 11 more hotels in Japan by the end of the year and we are now designing and building 27 hotels, including towers, in Tokyo toward the Rugby World Cup that will be held in 2019. These will be large hotels including the APA Hotel & Resort Ryogoku Station Tower with approximately 1,100 rooms. Furthermore, we are currently remodeling the 40 hotels in North America that we acquired in September. We plan to introduce 55-inch televisions and toilet seats with bidet functions in all the remodeled rooms. Continuing to expand like this, we often hear questions about whether we are able to secure sufficient human resources. We made job offers to approximately 200 new graduates this year. The growth of the APA Group has become well-known, so we received applications from extremely strong students this year, such as those from the Graduate School of the University of Tokyo. Moreover, many of the applicants this year are strong in English probably due to our acquisition of hotels in North America with 40% of our job offers going to those proficient in English conversation. There are also those among this number at a level capable of English interpretation who have acquired a perfect TOEIC score.
Our firm is currently constructing a reception hall. We plan to entertain overseas hotel owners who wish to sign a franchise agreement or partnership there. There are many overseas who look at the house where the other party lives before determining their level even in business relationships. The houses of even presidents of major companies are often small in Japan. However, the size of houses where rich people live around the world is beyond imagination. The residence of a friend in Seattle with a site of approximately 6,600 square meters is so large that it takes some time to arrive at the main house by car even after entering the gates. There is a pier at the back of the house with two large cruisers anchored there. It is even possible for visitors to stay in one of the six rooms on these cruisers. He also owns a Tesla Model X. This is an electric vehicle capable of automatic operation with gulf wing doors obtained by paying a deposit of 5 million in Japanese yen. Business has entered the era of thinking with global standards.