On May 16, the morning edition of The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper ran an article entitled “Corporate Profit to Exceed 20 Trillion Yen: Record-setting Profit on the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange” on the top of the front page. It read:
Most of the listed corporations on the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange settled their accounts on May 15 for the period ended March 2015. According to a tally by SMBC Nikko Securities on May 14, the after-tax profit of corporations (excluding the finance field) was 19.433 trillion yen, a record high that exceeded the period ended March 2008 before the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. It is certain that this amount will eventually pass the 20-trillion-yen mark for the first time, and it is expected that a new record will be set in the period ending March 2016.
On the same day, the article on the top of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun’s front page was entitled, “Stock Dividends Exceed 10 Trillion for the First Time: Consumption Supported by Listed Companies.” It read:
Listed corporations are paying more dividends to shareholders. It is predicted that the sum total of dividends in FY2015 will surpass FY2014 – the highest level ever – and exceed 10 trillion yen for the first time. Vigorous investments are also being made in the future, including capital investment. There is a growing trend of corporations not stockpiling more funds than necessary, but instead diverting them to returns to shareholders and growth investment. These increased dividends seem likely to support domestic consumption together with the successive wage increases since the spring of this year.
I suspect this favorable performance by listed corporations is a result of the economic policy that the second Shinzo Abe administration has devoted efforts towards since its inauguration two years and five months ago on December 16, 2012. Namely, in this policy the order of priority is: 1. The economy, 2. The economy, and 5. Diplomacy (there is no three or four). When Abe became the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) president on September 26, 2012, the Nikkei Stock Average was 8,906 yen and the exchange rate was 77.72 yen to the dollar. Compared to that time, stock prices have increased by 2.2 times and the yen has cheapened by 50%. When I spoke with former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui in the past, we agreed that the cause of the deflation Japan has suffered for the past 20 years was the abnormally high-valued yen. Abe immediately implemented drastic measures to this end after taking office as prime minister. Extremely low interest rates have been achieved through the “different dimension” of easy monetary policy by the Bank of Japan, which has resulted in the cheap yen of today.
While the cheap yen is driving continually favorable performance by listed corporations over two consecutive years, it is also rapidly drawing more foreign tourists to Japan. The hotel industry is thriving due to increased business travel caused by ascending corporate earnings, as well as more domestic travel inspired by increased wages. APA Group began Summit 5, its five-year, medium-term plan and summit strategy, in April 2010. We are implementing 37 hotel projects in the best districts of central Tokyo with the aim of becoming the top hotel brand in Tokyo. Via these projects, the monthly operating ratio for most completed hotels is 100%. During this year’s Golden Week holidays, APA Hotel’s overall daily sales reached 520 million yen, the highest amount ever. This trend of high operating ratios and unit costs has spread from Tokyo throughout Japan including to Osaka and other locations in western Japan, Kanazawa (where there is great excitement about the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen), and Sapporo. From APA Hotel’s satisfactory performance, I get a real sense that the economy is booming throughout Japan.
Japan has abundant nature, a unique culture, and ample tourist attractions, so it possesses the potential to become one of the world’s tourism-focused nations. It is also a country with good public order where women can walk around at night, and the food is safe and extremely delicious. Public transportation such as buses, trains, and airplanes runs on time. In these and other ways, Japan is equipped with a fundamental social environment. And since the formation of the second Abe administration, it has been decided to hold a series of global sports competitions and other events in Japan as well. These are too numerous to mention, including the 2015 and 2016 FIFA Club World Cups, the 2017 Asian Winter Games (Sapporo/Obihiro), the 2018 FIVB Women’s Volleyball World Championship, the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The ban on casinos will also be lifted in Osaka and Yokohama. Moreover, last year there was a remarkable increase in overseas visitors coming to view the cherry blossoms. This amazing increase in foreign tourism has boosted hotel operating rates and unit costs, and some travel agencies are having trouble making arrangements.
APA Group celebrated its 44th anniversary on May 10, which it commemorated with an advertisement spanning two pages in the Sankei Shimbun. The main visual of this ad was APA Hotel & Resort Yokohama Bay Tower, which will be completed in 2019 and have 2,400 rooms – the largest scale in Japan. We will open six new hotels in Tokyo during the current fiscal year alone, including APA Hotel Shinjuku-Kabukicho-Tower in September, which has 28 stories and 620 guest rooms and is located in front of the former Kabukicho Fountain Plaza; and APA Hotel Shinagawa-Sengakuji-Ekimae in December, which has 21 aboveground stories and 563 guest rooms and is located in front of Sengakuji Station and near the new train station between JR Tamachi Station and Shinagawa Station. As part of the first five-year plan we are also in the midst of 17 condominium projects, with a focus on choice locations in central Tokyo. Together with our hotels, we have completed or are engaged in a total of 54 projects. We launched THE CONOE this year as our flagship condominium brand. THE CONOE DAIKANYAMA, the first entry in this series, has an extremely favorable reputation with up to 22 applications for each unit. Great things can also be expected of THE CONOE ICHIBANCHO, which will be announced soon.
Over the past 44 years, we have conducted business without a single deficit and without having to fire even one employee for restructuring. As the result of our management in which we have accumulated trust, we now have 326 hotels across Japan where guests can earn APA Card points (which we launched 31 years ago). Together with our partners and franchises, the total number of guest rooms is 52,310, including rooms under construction. The number of APA Card members has reached 9,132,832 people. APA Hotel is one of the largest hotel groups not only in Tokyo but also across Japan, and this high-earning business model has also caused a revolution in the hotel industry. The base for our rapid progress is the “new urban hotel” model that I advocate for – hotels that offer high quality, high functionality, and environmental friendliness. Affluent people in the United States used to drive large cars such as full-sized Lincolns and Cadillacs as a status symbol. However, today the trend is for these high earners and other elite figures to drive small hybrids like the Prius and electric automobiles such as the Tesla. In the realm of passenger planes, people no longer use four-engine jumbo jets. The Boeing 767, Boeing 777, and new Boeing 787 that has a lightweight body made from carbon fiber are two-engine planes. Furthermore, there is a growing demand for connections with rural airports using small aircraft with good fuel consumption such as regional jets. “High quality,” “high functionality,” and “environmental friendliness” are the key phrases for all of these things, and now is the era in which hotels must follow along with this trend.
According to research by our company, APA Hotel’s most recent carbon dioxide emissions are one third of urban hotels. Our oval-shaped bathtubs require just 80% of the volume of hot water compared to that of conventional bathtubs, and our fixed-quantity shut-off valves with thermostats automatically stop the hot-water supply when the bathtub is filled with a certain amount of hot water. Air is mixed into the shower spray to maintain water pressure while also saving water. We have also reduced heating and cooling costs by using thermal barrier curtains. Our rooms are compact, but even our single beds are large at the standard size of 1,400 millimeters. We use Cloud fit, high-grade beds originally developed by APA Hotel, and our fine-quality amenities are the same as high-grade hotels. The rooms have large televisions from 40 to 50 inches, and the switches are all located near the pillow for convenience. In these and other ways, we are dedicated to offering high functionality and high quality. Based on this, the main appeal of APA Hotel – hotels where we are proud to welcome guests – is the customer service offered with pride by staff members. We started our second five-year plan this year. In the first three years we will enhance our stance of being far ahead of other companies in Japan, and in the second half of the plan we will use our new urban hotel model developed in Japan to advance into overseas countries.
Japan will move down the path towards becoming a tourism-focused nation in the future. The national government’s goal was originally to increase the number of foreign tourists to 20 million by 2020, but this was recently revised upwards to 25 million tourists, a five-million-person increase. Looking at the current trends, I suspect the actual number will drastically exceed this target. Japan also has the potential to attract 50 or 60 million foreign tourists in the future. Japan is located near countries with large populations such as India, China, and Indonesia, and is benefitting as these nations’ income levels rise. I do feel that this is hindered by conflict with China and South Korea stemming from historical issues. But China has toned down its claims that 300,000 people were slaughtered at Nanking and that the Senkaku Islands are Chinese territory, perhaps because it becomes increasingly clear that these are falsehoods the more these issues are discussed. South Korea still insists that 200,000 women were forcibly transported and subjected to sexual slavery, but recently official American documents have revealed that the South Korean Army built a military brothel staffed with Vietnamese women during the Vietnam War. People are also talking about the many memorials (which I visited in June of last year) with mosaic tile murals showing the South Korean Army killing massive numbers of citizens in Vietnam. Before South Korea denounces Japan for these things that never even happened, I think it should apologize for its own actions in Vietnam. I wrote a book entitled Theoretical Modern History to examine the historical fabrications related to Japan and will hold the party commemorating its publication in June.
In this book, I highlight the fact that Japan must break the American curse of the atomic bombs in order to create a truly friendly relationship between the two nations. During the last stage of World War II, the U.S. used secret Congressional funds to develop the atomic bombs as a way to prevent the world from being communized after the war (the outbreak of World War III). If the war ended, the U.S. would not have been able to try out these bombs, so it bought time and continued the war by ignoring Japan’s desire to surrender that it had expressed through various routes based on the condition of upholding the national polity. The U.S. completed the atomic bombs and dropped them on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even the top brass in the army and navy and Douglas MacArthur were against dropping these bombs with no warning or notice. Despite this, Secretary of State James F. Byrnes faced down the opposition based on his belief that dropping atomic bombs of two different types was absolutely necessary in order to threaten the Soviet Union and carry out an effective experiment on how much damage would be done.
Harry S. Truman – who wasn’t made aware of the atomic bomb development when he was vice president – became president after the sudden death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Byrnes convinced Truman to use the bombs, which were dropped without any prior warning. Thanks to Byrnes’ cool-headedness, the U.S. intimidated the Soviet Union, gained global hegemony in the postwar world, and transformed World War III into the Cold War. Considering the national interests of the U.S., one can say that dropping the atomic bombs was a justified and essential act.
However, this massacre of civilians was a crime against humanity, and the U.S. had to portray Japan as a bad country in order to be continually seen as a good country even after dropping the atomic bombs. To that end, the U.S. determined how to govern during its occupation and divided Japan into the militarists and the general citizens that had been influenced by them. It placed responsibility for the war only on some of these militarists.
Japan fought together with colonial armies in Asia, which had been invaded and colonized by the Western European powers, and waged war in order to free these colonies and drive out their suzerain states. Despite this, at the Tokyo Trials Japan was determined to be a bad country and an aggressor nation that carried out the Nanking Massacre, which was fabricated history created according to a strategy by the Kuomintang National Revolutionary Army. A story was created in which the U.S. dropped the bombs on the bad country of Japan to transform it into a democratic nation. Based on the War Guilt Information Program (WGIP), a propaganda plan to create a sense of guilt regarding the war among the Japanese people, the U.S. issued the Press Code to regulate freedom of speech. It censored newspapers, radio broadcasts, and even opened and censored private letters. It also confiscated and burned 7,769 books that were inexpedient to the Allies. Some 200,000 people that held official positions during the war were banished, the Japan Teachers’ Union was established, and textbooks were altered to be more advantageous to the U.S. In this way, the U.S. thoroughly instilled a sense of atonement for the war in the Japanese people. These brainwashing maneuvers have continued even 70 years after the war, and Japan is now the world’s most anti-Japanese nation. The U.S. is still bound by the curse of its awareness of culpability for dropping the atomic bombs, so it has continually maintained this fictitious story.
On April 29, Abe became the first Japanese prime minister to give a speech at a joint session of the U.S. Congress. It was a wonderful speech that earned 14 standing ovations. He mentioned “feelings of deep remorse over the war” but did not apologize or discuss colonial rule. He said, “we can spread our shared values around the world and have them take root: the rule of law, democracy, and freedom.” To that end, for the sake of our children and grandchildren “we must turn the area into a region for lasting peace and prosperity,” referring to an area that “accounts for 40 per cent of the world economy, and one third of global trade.” Abe emphasized that the U.S. (which is the number-one democratic nation in terms of economic scale) and Japan (number two) must accomplish the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) led by China was created as a way to recover after the Chinese bubble bursts. It gathers money from across the world to invest in infrastructure in Africa and Asia, but the actual construction is entrusted to Chinese corporations. The official demand for gigantic urban development projects and domestic infrastructure improvement – which previously upheld the Chinese economy and was not consequent upon demand – is merely being expanded overseas. There is no need for Japan to be involved in this; it is a challenge aimed at Japanese-American frameworks such as the Asian Development Bank and International Monetary Fund. Moreover, to restrain China – which is more vigorously expanding into the South China Sea – close cooperation between Japan and the U.S. will be needed, including the TPP. The Abe administration is developing the economy while using a detour strategy to break the American atomic bomb curse instead of criticizing the U.S. directly. The first step of this was Abe’s speech.
During his speech, Abe also stated, “In the end, together with the U.S. and other like-minded democracies, we won the Cold War.” The current government of China and Russia (which lost the Cold War and only triumphed in civil war) say that it is the 70th anniversary of the triumph over Japan. However, Mao Zedong once said that his party was attained thanks to the Imperial Japanese Army. As this indicates, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and today’s Russia did not personally fight with the Japanese Army. Moreover, Abe declared that Japan will support “the ‘rebalancing’ by the U.S. in order to enhance the peace and security of the Asia-Pacific region.” Based on the U.S.-Japan alliance, he said Japan will also enhance its cooperation with Australia, India, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, and South Korea for the stability of the region. Regarding the state of Asian waters, Abe advocated for his three principles: “First, states shall make their claims based on international law. Second, they shall not use force or coercion to drive their claims. And third, to settle disputes, any disputes, they shall do so by peaceful means.” He clearly stated that the U.S.-Japan alliance protects these, as does enhancing the Japanese legislative foundations for our security. Japan is upholding the concept of “proactive contribution to peace based on the principle of international cooperation.” Abe said that, through the U.S.-Japan alliance, we should work together to jointly tackle various global issues. He concluded his speech by stating, “Ladies and gentlemen, the finest asset the U.S. has to give to the world was hope, is hope, will be, and must always be hope. Distinguished representatives of the citizens of the United States, let us call the U.S.-Japan alliance, an alliance of hope. Let the two of us, America and Japan, join our hands together and do our best to make the world a better, a much better, place to live.” I listened to this speech live and immediately sent its fantastic content to all members of the Shoheijuku school.
This speech is being criticized by biased anti-Japanese media outlets in Japan such as The Asahi Shimbun, some anti-Japanese politicians that are influenced by the lobbying of China and South Korea, and overseas media including The New York Times. We must not take these news reports seriously; this speech is highly appraised in the U.S. Just 1.5 years remain in President Barack Obama’s term of office. What has he done? He won the Nobel Peace Price soon after his inauguration for advocating for the abolition of nuclear weapons even though the U.S. is the world’s largest nuclear state. He also declared that the U.S. would step down from its position as policeman of the world, which led to issues such as the conflict in Ukraine and the prominence of the Islamic State and China.
It is fair to say that all of the disorder occurring in the world of late is caused by the “Obama Doctrine” in which military power is just shown off, not exercised. Famous American strategy researcher Edward Luttwak says that weak presidents are followed by strong ones. Many people believe that Democrat Hillary Clinton will become the next president, but the Republican Party candidate has yet to be determined. It is highly likely that a candidate chosen in a fierce primary election will win at one fell swoop. Marco Rubio, a Republican senator, has announced that he is running for president, and I think he is a likely candidate.
It is highly possible that China will split apart, and Russia is at an impasse in resources diplomacy. The threat is also growing that North Korea will collapse due to successive political purges. In these and other ways, the situation in East Asia is not stable, and building a favorable U.S.-Japan relationship is essential to oppose these things. To be able to cope with all sorts of circumstances, Japan should enhance the legislative foundations for its security and quickly revise the constitution. If this is not accomplished, Japan cannot fulfill its responsibilities as a world leader. I think that the chance for constitutional change will not come again for 30 or 40 years if the constitution is not amended during Abe’s term as prime minister. I hope Abe will aim to make Japan into a country focused on advanced sciences and technologies, state-of-the-art medical technologies, and tourism, and be a longstanding administration lasting more than 10 years. I also hope he will help break the American curse of the atomic bombs, revise the constitution, and make Japan into a decent country. These feelings are expressed in Theoretical Modern History, my new book, so if you are interested I hope you will read it.
May 27 (Wednesday), 2015 1:00 p.m.