The latest Wine Tasting and Discussion About Japan Meeting was held at the home of our representative on December 1, 2016. The meeting was attended by Isao Tsukamoto, Founder and CEO of Kaga Electronics Co., Ltd. which will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2017; Kent Gilbert, a Californian attorney who has already published five books this year and will be publishing two more in December; Shuhei Shiozawa, a professor in the Faculty of Economics of Keio University whose love of sake prompted him to obtain a sake taster’s qualification recently; Jukido Jay Aeba, Chairman, The Japanese Conservative Union who predicted Donald Trump’s victory in his work Trump Revolution in March 2016; and Yoshiie Kanai, the CEO of K’s Private Consulting Co., Ltd. whose certified public accountants, tax accountants and small and medium enterprise management consultants provide companies with general consulting services. The attendees discussed their hopes that 2017 would be a year in which the logic of power would reign.
Donald Trump was elected as President of the United States of America. There have been speculations that he may work in Washington DC on weekdays and return to his home in Manhattan on weekends. Selections for Trump’s transition team are underway, although it will be interesting if Mitt Romney is selected as Secretary of State. Romney was the Republican candidate for President in the previous election in 2012, but lost to President Barack Obama. Romney continually and strongly spoke against Trump from this year’s primary elections, and will have a major impact on Trump’s cabinet if he becomes a member. That Trump is making cabinet members of so many people who were against him from the primaries to the final election speaks to his immense negotiation abilities. Although he is often thought of as foolhardy due to his inflammatory language, he is in fact a sharp thinker who thinks carefully before every action he takes. His language was also a strategy calculated by the same principles as advertising: he chose his words to be newsworthy in order to gain more media exposure. The media fell for this and reported Trump’s words and actions for the sake of ratings – a fact that they are beginning to regret. Most of Japan’s politicians repeatedly said that Trump would never actually become President because the American populace is not stupid, but our representative said repeatedly that a Trump win would bring Japan an opportunity for independence and self-defense, and that the likelihood of such an outcome was high. He made 18 statements of this nature from March 2016 in Apple Town magazine and Shoheijuku. The American media, which had been strongly liberal even before the election, was mostly supporting Hillary Clinton, to the point where Trump sardonically referred to CNN as the “Clinton News Network.” Newsweek magazine had even printed a Clinton victory special and shipped 125,000 copies, which are believed to have eventually been collected and disposed of. The Japanese media did not properly research the situation and took the American media at its word. Ultimately, many Japanese people only visit California or New York and do not go more than 25km inland apart from the odd trip to the Grand Canyon, so they do not have the whole picture of Americans. Japanese people who went inland to conduct research predicted that Trump would win. In addition, Trump used extremely effective strategies. The American presidential election results are determined by elections within each state, with the candidate who wins the most states elected as President. Trump ignored states where he was highly likely to lose and focused his energy on states where the competition was close. This resulted in an overwhelming win for Trump in the actual results, even though Clinton won the popular vote. While some are opposed to Clinton losing the election despite winning the popular vote, it makes little sense to complain after the fact when she knew the rules under which she was running. The same phenomenon occurred in the Gore vs. Bush election in 2000, with Bush winning the election but losing the popular vote. Why was the outcome of the election different from the results of public opinion polls? The reason is reportedly because in addition to Trump’s ardent supporters, there were many “closet Trump supporters” who did not openly voice their support for fear of being criticized.
Our representative’s aim is for Shoheijuku to produce a future Prime Minister. The strongest candidate seems to be Tomomi Inada, the current Minister of Defense. A fictitious newspaper article told of a “contest to kill 100 people using a sword” in Nanking, resulting in the Japanese army officers being sentenced to execution for war crimes in a military trial held after World War II. During her earlier career as a lawyer, Inada represented the officers’ families in a libel trial against newspapers such as the Mainichi Shimbun and Asahi Shimbun, and was scouted by current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was the acting secretary general at the time. Although she has spent little time in politics and is currently experiencing difficulties since being appointed Minister of Defense by Prime Minister Abe, she has a significant chance at being Prime Minister if she can overcome these struggles. Abe’s support of Inada for this important role is partly to keep rivals at bay. Prefectural governors also do not appoint outstanding figures as vice-governors for fear of being stabbed in the back, and the same may be happening here. However, if Abe remains for a third term – up to nine years – he could be Prime Minister until 2021. His ideal outcome may be for Inada to grow as a politician in that time and follow in his footsteps. Some have criticized her for missing a visit to Yasukuni Shrine (a shrine for Japanese military members killed in World War II) on August 15, 2016, shortly after her appointment. Inada was overseas on that day, and critics saw this as running away from the situation. But this was actually a wise strategy because as the Minister of Defense, she cannot make waves unnecessarily. She may have planned this with Prime Minister Abe.
Trump does not actually own all of Trump Tower. His company carried out the design and architectural work and then sold space in it, with buyers paying both for the space itself and the prestige of the Trump brand. In terms of asset ownership, our representative may own more than he does. Kent Gilbert is a Californian lawyer whose son has a license to practice law in the states of New York and California. American law licenses are not valid nationwide; they have to be acquired separately for each state. This may seem onerous, but it is actually the best practice as the exams contain both nationwide content and content specific to the state in question. The American bar examination is not as difficult as Japan’s. A prospective lawyer in Montana can get a license to practice law simply by graduating from Montana State University’s law school, and the pass rate of Florida’s bar exam is 98%.
With 2017 set to be a year in which the logic of power reigns and imperialism resurges, it can be said that Japan’s need for independent self-defense has rapidly increased. In August 2016, American Vice-President Joe Biden stated that “The US wrote Japan’s constitution to say they could not be a nuclear power.” Trump said during the election period that Japan and Korea should acquire nuclear weapons, but later denied that he had said this. There is no chance of the US allowing Japan to be a nuclear power, and even if Japan suffers a nuclear attack, the US will not fight back as long as there is a risk of nuclear attacks from China or North Korea. The nuclear umbrella is an illusion. If Japan cannot become a nuclear power in its own right to protect itself from nuclear attacks, we need to convince the US to allow Japan to enter Germany’s nuclear sharing agreement as a fellow country that lost World War II. The US shows no signs of allowing Japan to have offensive armed forces. Our anti-ballistic missile system was a measure sold to us to stop Japan from having offensive armed forces after the US ascertained Japan’s defense budget. However, anti-ballistic missiles have a fatal flaw: they offer no resistance to saturation attacks that outstrip their anti-ballistic capabilities. If the system can only intercept 10 missiles at a time, it cannot stop an attack where 20 missiles are fired at once. We need to either join a nuclear sharing agreement or have offensive armed forces as a deterrent, and the Constitution needs to be amended as soon as possible to enable this.
The preamble to the Japanese Constitution says “we have determined to preserve our security and existence, trusting in the justice and faith of the peace-loving peoples of the world,” but if the world were really like this, military forces would not be needed. Do these “peace-loving peoples of the world” include North Korea and China? Nuclear weapons spread from the US to the Soviet Union and China, and now North Korea has them too. As things stand now, there is a high chance that if there is a third nuclear attack, Japan will be the victim again. But many Japanese people believe that as long as we uphold Article 9 (Renunciation of War), Japan will be at peace. This was aptly captured in Naoki Hyakuta’s Kaeru no Rakuen (The Paradise of Frogs). Some schools of thought even say that Article 9 is itself unconstitutional. Constitutions are supposed to exist to protect the lives of the nation’s people, yet Article 9 impedes that. At the very least, it can be surmised that Clause 2 of Article 9 (“In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”) should be removed. At present, a two-thirds majority is in favor of an amendment in both houses of parliament, but no consensus has been reached about which part to amend. Rather than amending the Constitution all at once, the amendment should be made in two stages, starting with the parts that a large number of people are likely to approve of. We should start with areas such as the preamble and amend areas that any reader can see are problematic through motions and referenda, then work on the full amendment of areas such as Article 9. Article 9 is still hotly debated, and there is a high chance that the referendum results will be against the amendment if we approach that immediately. Once the people have rejected an amendment, it is extremely difficult to propose it again.
APA Hotel purchased Coast Hotels, a chain of 39 hotels in Canada and the USA, with a grand opening taking place in November 2016 under the COAST Coal Harbor Hotel by APA brand. APA Hotel owns five of the 39 hotels, directly manages six others, and the rest are operated as franchises. The reason why these hotels were not simply named “APA Hotel” was because the APA brand is still new in North America, and the original name of Coast Hotel would thus be more familiar among North Americans. It has recently become trendy for operators in the hotel industry to name their hotels “(name of hotel) by (name of the hotel group that owns it).” This is perhaps an indicator of just how many acquisitions there are between hotel chains. The biggest and most dramatic hotel chain acquisition in 2016 was probably the purchase of Starwood Hotels and Resorts by Marriott International for around $13 billion. Marriott now operates over a million rooms, and has overtaken Hilton to become the world’s largest hotel chain. APA Hotel aims to be operating 100,000 rooms by 2020, which means that a hotel chain ten times as large is the world’s top chain. Hotel chains seek to increase their room count to enjoy the benefits of scale merit, but this cannot be achieved simply by acquiring individual hotels: whole hotel chains must be acquired to achieve significant growth in one move. In terms of the Asian hotel industry, Taiwanese hotels are currently experiencing a crisis due to plummeting tourist numbers. After Tsai Ing-Wen from the Democratic Progressive Party was elected President of Taiwan, harassment from China prompted a restriction on tourists from mainland China, resulting in a loss of business for the hotels in Taiwan. Many hotel chains are taking this as a prime opportunity to acquire hotels in Taiwan.