A Wine Tasting and Discussion about Japan Meeting was held as always on March 1, 2017 in the representative’s home. The guests included Mr. Yoshiaki Harada, a Member of the House of Representatives who was commended as an excellent party member at the annual convention for the Liberal Democratic Party on March 6; Ms. O Sonfa, a professor at Takushoku University who has criticized anti-Japanese education in South Korea and who is a naturalized Japanese citizen; Ms. Setsuko Izumi, the Chairwoman of the Izumi-ryu School Association that protects the 600-year old kyogen and is telling the next generation and the world about this form of entertainment; and Mr. Motoya Izumi, the 20th Head of Izumi-ryu.
There is a character in the latest novel by Haruki Murakami Killing Commendatore who says the following about the Nanking Incident: “Some put the Chinese death toll at 400,000, while others say it was 100,000. But what is the difference? It was still a killing spree.” The author Naoki Hyakuta tweeted cynically: “He will yet again have a bestseller in China because of this.” It looks like Haruki Murakami is attempting to curry favor in China because of his desire for a Nobel Prize in Literature by adding another 100,000 victims to the 300,000 people who China asserts were killed. Incidentally, the Nobel Prize in Literature winning Kenzaburo Oe also possessed an extreme ideology calling defense college students “the shame of their generation.” Japanese people with a conscientious conservative ideology will surely not read any books by Haruki Murakami.
There is a very long description of how Japan improved the infrastructure (e.g. railroads and harbors) during the period in which Korea was annexed by Japan in the municipal museum in Busan. However, of course, there are a number of lines at the end that touch upon Japanese atrocities. It would no doubt not look good publically if those lines were not inserted. It is possible to maintain your independence if you are an island country like Japan. However, it is extremely difficult to maintain political power on a peninsula like Korea. Japan fought the First Sino-Japanese War (1894 to 1895) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904 to 1905) because we first yielded to China and then Russia having to rely on stronger neighboring countries. This is because the Korean Peninsula has a position as though cutting through the side of Japan. The biggest reason for the annexation of Korea by Japan was no doubt to guarantee the safety of our country. Japan promoted “Japanization” and put off conscription instead of exploiting Korea as a colony even after the annexation. Koreans were mobilized to work in the Japanese mainland to cover for the loss in the labor population due to conscription. It has been touted that the comfort women of the Japanese Army were mostly Korean in origin in false theories that state 200,000 women were forcibly enlisted as such. However, of course, most of these women were Japanese. The life of these women was actually reasonably fulfilling as revealed in interviews by the US military on Korean comfort women in Myanmar. They were not in a really bad environment like with sex slaves.
Freedom of speech is guaranteed in Japan, but this is not the case in Korea. The Korean author Kim Wan-seop wrote that Korea was able to modernize thanks to Japan in a book titled Excuse for Pro-Japanese. He was subject to a lawsuit and given a fine. He was also summoned to the parliament and subjected to violence. He has even had to pay a fine after being sued by descendants for his evaluation of those in the past. It is not possible to see the country acting as a nation with a constitutional government. Kim Wan-seop has also visited Japan at the invitation of the representative. Although he was subjected to anti-Japanese education in South Korea, he understands the truth from studying history in Australia later. People in South Korea are no longer able to use kanji (Chinese characters) and can only understand Hangul. How will young people who do not know kanji be able to learn about the history of their homeland? The history has been ruptured. The worship of the powerful is still very strong in Korea. For example, Korea insists that it taught Japan the kanji that originated from China.
There is currently an opportunity to purchase housing in cities due to the low interest rates. Real estate prices in Japan are rising. However real estate prices around the world (e.g. Shanghai, Vancouver, Singapore and Taipei) are rising beyond those in Japan. This is a bubble. The economy in the United States will also surely improve now that President Trump has announced plans for one trillion dollars in public investment. President Trump has stated public infrastructure is behind the times in the United States where there is no high-speed rail network like the Shinkansen. In fact, a plan for a high-speed railroad between Dallas and Houston in Texas is underway with technical support being provided by JR Tokai. Shinkansen technology is also being promoted in a plan for a high-speed railroad between San Francisco and Anaheim in California. This technology may also be incorporated into a plan for a high-speed railroad between New York and Washington in the future. The confidence in the Shinkansen system is demonstrated by its track record of operation in Japan. There will be no delays like with the high-speed railroad construction in Indonesia by China where even the site has not yet been purchased when proceeding with the building work. Improving infrastructure in the United States is a massive opportunity for Japan. Those in countries where Japanese companies have advanced (e.g. in infrastructure construction) are often invited to watch kyogen (traditional Japanese comic theater) to introduce them to the culture of Japan. The 600 year history of kyogen is often older than the history of those countries so this is entertainment treated with respect. Various Japanese items like sado (tea ceremony) and sake are also popular overseas. One of these items is Wagyu beef. Wagyu beef production has also started in Australia following this popularity.
Ms. O Sonfa is planning to publish English translations of her own works to widely inform the world about the problem of anti-Japanese education in China and Korea. Many articles, including those on this Wine Tasting and Discussion about Japan Meeting, are translated into English and published in Apple Town. It is not possible to communicate with lots of people unless you use English. China and South Korea have spread anti-Japanese information around the world using this. Japan should also set up an information ministry to counter anti-Japanese information. There was an incident in which APA Hotel attracted a lot of criticism on January 15. However, the representative did not bend at all to the pressure of the Chinese government. Therefore, China can no longer use the Nanking Massacre card. Entrepreneurs take risks, but must also think about ways to control these at the same time. This is a difference with company employee presidents who look at avoiding risk as far as possible. APA Hotel has set up a rule that the number of guests accepted from one country should be within 10% of the overall number of guests for those from overseas. In fact, the proportion of guests from China prior to this incident was 5%. Certainly, there were few guests in tours from China after this incident. However, the impact of this was minimal and was covered by guests from Japan and other countries. In particular, we also saw an increase in those going out of their way to stay at APA Hotel from a desire to support the APA Group among Japanese guests who watched the progress of this incident. It was thought that the sales of APA Hotel would suffer an unavoidable reduction, but we saw record highs in both January and February. The occupancy rate in February was virtually at 100% in Tokyo and was a record high of 88.4% across the country. There were also those who wished to buy APA apartments to show their support in addition to using our hotels. The number of requests for talks by the Hotel President also increased rapidly. We are extremely grateful to have received the support of so many people.
This response by APA is extremely rare in financial circles in Japan. Normally, there is a fear of boycotts and so companies react so as not to provoke China. Japanese companies did not even provide support in the trial concerning the establishment of a comfort woman statue in the United States in fear of incurring a backlash. There are surely many Japanese people dissatisfied with this response by such companies. This appears to be the driving force to support APA Hotel at this time. There are even many people who support APA Hotel among the wealthy in China and there are guests who stay at our hotels without listening to the advice of the Chinese government. In the first place, APA Hotels in cities did not have any reservations from overseas tour groups and only individual guests were staying in them. This also meant there was a small impact. There are also stories about the number of Chinese tourists coming to Japan decreasing. However, cruise ships from China are currently making many stops at Hakata Port and the streets of Fukuoka are crowded. These tourists purchase large quantities of medicines. There are many people who do not trust the medicines made in their own country in China where there is a culture of counterfeiting.
It may seem easy to perform kyogen overseas because there are few performers. In fact, however, it is very difficult because it is necessary to take various things. Kyogen is performed in nagabakama (long formal divided skirt for men) starting from a Shinto ritual. This means it is not possible to perform kyogen on a stage that allows bare feet. Properly speaking, it is necessary to lay down boards called shosadai. However, taking these overseas would require the chartering of a whole plane. Therefore, wood carpet is used as an alternative. Moreover, it is essential to have a pine tree scene panel. It is possible to transform a large hall or small theater in Europe or America into a nohkyogen (noh farce) with just a pine tree. Kyogen is performed using Japanese from 600 years ago even overseas. First, a detailed explanation is given in English. In addition, kyogen uses gestures and human emotions are represented with facial expressions. This means it is possible to fully enjoy kyogen even without knowing Japanese. There are also many people who take commemorative photographs in front of the pine tree on the stage after the end of the performance. Nohkyogen was taught over three months to students at the request of the North Dakota State University. As you would expect, it was not possible to master Japanese, but English kyogen was produced by translating some of the words into English. This was performed for the first time in Japan at the National Noh Theatre on March 7. Conversations between Japanese people use nonverbal communication so it is possible to understand each other without saying anything. This is different from English-speaking countries and Korea. Korean people attempt to express their arguments 100% and cannot comprehend unless it is possible to understand even without saying anything.
The hotel industry is still blooming. APA Hotel’s share of the domestic market in Japan is still at 3% even though we are number one in Japan. It would not be out of place for our share to grow at least five-fold looking at top companies in other industries. We have launched an online site for visitors to Japan from overseas on which it is possible to see inside the guest rooms of APA Hotels. There is a mechanism in which we learn your nationality at the reception when you check in to an APA Hotel. Then, when you enter your room, the television will start up and introduce you to products in your own language. We sell APA-related goods. Our best selling items in place of souvenirs are APA’s original 3D mesh pillow called Air Relax and an original bed called Cloud fit. This is probably because these are comfortable when actually used. In addition, APA President Curry is also popular. Attempts are being made to relax regulations on private residences temporarily taking in lodgers to suit the situation. The upper limit is 180 days per year with the details left to the ordinances of each municipality. However, there are hygiene and tax payment problems. Furthermore, there are also many fears that there is a possibility these could become terrorist hideouts. There might not have been any major problems yet, but something will occur sooner or later if proper rules are not decided, including those concerning the police.