As I pen this essay, there is less than one month of 2016 remaining. I always write APA Group’s annual “Remarks on the New Year” at this time while reflecting on the past year and thinking about how I want the next year to be. Last year, I wrote:
When establishing a standard
and conquering the world
Try with all your power to fulfill boundless dreams
and realize your own aspirations
The last two lines are the same each time, but the first part expresses my feelings about the year to come.
The first-class hotel concept of the past draws from the Western tradition in which hotel employees serve guests as if they are servants, rather resembling the relationship between a suzerain state and colony. The guest doesn’t complain if an employee enters the guest’s room while he or she is away because the guest views the employee as a servant. At APA Hotels, the employees respect the guest’s privacy and do not enter the guest’s room without permission after check-in. APA Hotel’s basic philosophy says that guests can stay with pride, employees provide hospitality to guests with pride, and guests and staff members are equal.
The world is trending towards more compact sizes. For vehicles, the mainstream has shifted from the full-size Cadillac to the Prius and other environmentally friendly, compact cars. Airplanes are growing more compact as well, from four-engine Jumbo 747 jets that produce a lot of exhaust gas to twin-engine, light 787 and regional jets. In the same way, hotels should be made more compact and environmentally friendly. In APA Hotels, air conditioning, lights, and all other functions are located at the bedside in our compact rooms. We have also taken many measures to cut CO2 emissions to one third those of a regular urban hotel. APA Hotel set its New Urban Style Hotel standard for hotels that are highly functional, of high quality, and environmentally friendly. This standard has been accepted by the world and we have achieved an earning ratio of 39%, the highest in the world. My 2016 Remarks on the New Year were right on the mark, and APA made great progress this year.
I thought a great deal before writing my remarks for 2017:
Be victorious in conflicts to gain authority
Try with all your power to fulfill boundless dreams
and realize your own aspirations
The phrase “a year ruled by the logic of power” was inspired by Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election. This marks the end of the era of the Barack Obama administration, which hesitated to use military force while prioritizing democracy and human rights, and heralds the advent of a new age of imperialism in which countries put themselves first. Vladimir Putin has been in power for 17 years in Russia, including the four midway through when his subordinate Dmitry Medvedev served as president, and Russia can increasingly be called the “Empire of Putin.” At the 18h Central Committee’s 6th Plenary Session in October 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping was named the “core” leader of the party. Only two people have been given this title up until now: Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. I think Xi Jinping aims to emulate these two men to seize strong authority and maintain his political power for a long period. Up until now there has been a new Chinese president every 10 years, including Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, but I wonder if Xi Jinping intends to build his own empire without giving up his position as chairman of the Central Military Commission, even if he does step down as president. Some national leaders attach absolutely no importance to human rights, including of course North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un and more recently Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte.
Trump’s slogan of “Make America Great Again” spoke to the hearts of the common people, who felt dissatisfied with some of the elite figures, because it expresses the doctrine of putting the United States first. In Europe as well, so-called “populist movements” have come to power with the support of many regular people, and political systems across the world are growing unstable. Japan today has the most stable government of any advanced nation, and I believe this is a major opportunity for Japan (USFJ) to become capable of independent self-defense. Trump has said the U.S. Forces, Japan (USFJ) might be withdrawn if Japan does not pay all of the expenses for stationing them here, and has also stated that he will approve Japanese and South Korean possession of nuclear arms. At first I thought Marco Rubio, who has a good understanding of the situation in Japan, was the most appealing Republican candidate. Yet his approval rating was just 19% in a public opinion poll released by CNN on February 17, so I predicted he would lose in the primaries.
Trump has given voice, in purposefully inflammatory language, to many keenly felt opinions that white people couldn’t say in a strategic bid to make news. For instance, he said that illegal immigrants are rapists, that he would build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and make Mexico pay for it, that he would get Xi Jinping a McDonald’s hamburger instead of throwing him a big dinner, and that he would ban Muslims from entering the U.S. Most of the media outlets reported critically on Trump for his many reckless remarks, but I thought he was employing an effective differentiation strategy based on Lanchester’s laws about strength. My interpretation was that the polls would not reflect reality as Trump gained more hidden supporters among the whites who feel dissatisfied with Obama’s America and anxious at the thought of the U.S. being transformed from a white country to one of color. I was confident that Trump would become the Republican candidate and have the potential to win. Even if he was constantly behind Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the polls, I thought these secret Trump supporters would win him the election and make him the 45th president.
Xi Jinping of China feels the greatest threat from Trump’s victory. This is because Trump looks up to Ronald Reagan, the 40th president who drove the Soviet Union to collapse through the arms race (the “Star Wars” program) and may draw China, which is suffering as its bubble economy bursts, into an arms race and guide the Chinese Communist Party towards destruction. I have repeatedly insisted 18 times that Trump’s presidency would be an opportunity for Japan to become capable of independent self-defense, starting back at the Wine Tasting and Discussion about Japan on March 2 as well as in Apple Town, this magazine, and at the Shoheijuku school. This chance has become a reality.
The recent chaos in the world stems from Obama’s announcement that the U.S. will no longer serve as the world’s policeman. This led to Russia occupying and annexing the Crimean Peninsula. Russia also supported pro-Russian armed insurgents in Ukraine, leading to ongoing civil war. China is reclaiming reefs in the South China Sea and building military bases with runways. In the East China Sea, it claims the Senkaku Islands as its own territory and is repeatedly intruding into Japanese territorial waters. The Islamic State (IS) dominates in Iraq and Syria, which has led to the outbreak of terrorism across the world. Jiang Zemin, then-chairman of the Chinese Central Military Commission, made a final gamble when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army instigated some members of the North Korean military circles to assassinate Kim Jong-il, who refused to abandon nuclear development. The plan was to use 800 tons of TNT to blow up the train taking Kim Jong-il home from China. Kim Jong-il determined that nuclear weapons were the only way to protect himself, and North Korea has repeatedly conducted nuclear bomb tests and launched missiles for self-defense.
As the circumstances point to the next year being ruled by the logic of power, what should Japan do to safeguard its people and territory given that it is surrounded by the nuclear states of Russia, China, and North Korea? Japan cannot protect itself under the current constitution, which must be amended to make Japan into a country capable of independent self-defense. To this end, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) regulations were revised, changing the president’s term of office to three terms (nine years). This will allow a long-term government by Shinzo Abe, who was behind Tokyo’s successful bid to host the Olympics and can still be prime minister at the time of the Opening Ceremony. Trump’s victory at this timing opens up the possibility of a closer relationship with the U.S. Trump has criticized the unilateral stipulations of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, so I think changing it into a bilateral treaty of mutual defense would make the Japan-U.S. alliance tighter and more effective.
“Be victorious in conflicts to gain authority” refers to APA’s business. Including partner hotels, the APA Hotel network currently encompasses 415 hotels across the world with 67,549 guest rooms. Among these, we have 69 hotels in Tokyo with 15,811 rooms (including those under design and construction). 2016 was the most banner year for APA Hotel, and we opened 54 APA network hotels with 8,594 rooms. We boast Japan’s top hotel network and a hotel profit ratio of 39%, which is the highest in the world. We are also number one in Japan for profit (33 billion) and the number of APA Card members (12 million). However, we can’t say that we have Japan’s largest number of guest rooms for directly operated APA Hotels alone, so our goal for 2017 is to first gain overwhelming authority in Japan. APA Hotel will also take its first steps towards global hegemony in 2017. APA Hotel Woodbridge in New Jersey celebrated its grand opening in May 2016, and in September we acquired Coast Hotels, which has 39 hotels in the U.S. and Canada. We should criticize corporations that do not expand their businesses and merely hang onto profit as internal reserves in this era of low interest rates. They should be re-investing their profit in new businesses, which would also aid economic recovery in Japan. Corporations should undertake these investments even if they increase their debt by two or three times, since the interest rates paid are now one third or one fifth of what they were. APA Hotel is accomplishing this. Under our Summit 5-II Project, our major goal is to expand the APA Hotel network to 100,000 rooms before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
As I express my views I am working towards Japan’s independent self-defense, while in my business activities I am aiming at 100,000 APA Hotel rooms. I regard both of these activities as two wheels of the same vehicle. I have come this far while keeping in mind my version of a proverb that says, “If you run after two hares, you will catch both.” Business success has merit in my speech activities, and my self-expression creates great feelings of solidarity and is connected to business success.
This year marked the 9th Annual “True Interpretations of Modern History” Essay Contest, which I am confident has had significant impacts on Japanese politics. The Grand Prize (Fuji Seiji Prize) winner in the first contest in 2008 was Toshio Tamogami, then chief of staff of Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force. He was dismissed for this, causing a great uproar across Japan that was a wake-up call inspiring a conservative trend. This led to Abe’s second stint as prime minister, and it looks like his government will be a long-term one.
The Grand Prize (Fuji Seiji Prize) winner in the 9th annual contest was Toshio Nishi, a professor at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. It is said that history is written by the victors. The memoirs of Herbert Hoover contain 19 points clearly describing how Franklin D. Roosevelt started World War II as a way to escape from the Great Depression and achieve re-election (Chapter 2, entitled “Policy mistakes made by the U.S.”). The “fourth mistake” was how England and France ensured the independence of Poland and Romania. In March 1939, England and France – which did not have the power to guard against a German invasion – nonetheless pledged to guarantee the independence of Poland and Romania because they believed the words of Roosevelt, who said the U.S. would stand with England and France if war broke out. This is also discussed in FDR: The Other Side of the Coin – How We Were Tricked into World War II by Hamilton Fish. Jerzy Józef Potocki, the Polish ambassador to the U.S., said Roosevelt promised to fight with Britain and France to guarantee Poland’s independence. This created a cause for World War II.
The causes of the Pacific War between the U.S. and Japan include opposition by Lauchlin Currie, an advisor to Roosevelt who was a Comintern spy, to both of the peace proposals from Japan (Currie fled to South America after the war). Harry Dexter White, another Comintern spy, also wrote the Hull Note that contained hardline demands of Japan and can be described as a declaration of war. While testifying under the suspicion of espionage after the war, he died a sudden and questionable death that was probably engineered by Comintern. It has become evident that the U.S. occupied Japan after World War II and implemented the War Guilt Information Program, a plan to implant a sense of wrongdoing for the war among the Japanese people. It created fabricated history, teaching and coercing Japanese citizens to accept a version of history that was expedient for the U.S. (known as the “Tokyo Trials historical view”).
The same thing actually happened at the time of the Meiji Restoration. The historical viewpoint of seeing the victorious Satsuma and Choshu as good was thoroughly instilled in the Japanese people by the Meiji government. Nishi’s essay is significant because it points this out and provides a chance to re-examine modern Japanese history from the end of the Edo Period until today. The Judging Committee unanimously decided to award him the Grand Prize (Fuji Seiji Prize), and this trailblazing essay will likely inspire people to rethink history.
When I make business judgments, I always consider whether something is feasible or not and whether the content can be explained with no inconsistencies. However, this logic holds no water in the discipline of history. Reconsidering history in the U.S. in particular earns one the unilateral label of “historical revisionist.” But when new facts come to light, new historical interpretations are essential for a consistent explanation including these facts. At the second coming of imperialism across the world, Japanese people must first have a good understanding of historical truth so Japan can be transformed into a country that can protect itself. The ability to wage a counteroffensive provides deterrence and is a way to avoid war. We must understand that offensive weapons are what provide deterrence. If people continue misunderstanding the concept of deterrence, Japan will be the target of a third nuclear attack after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. To prevent this, Japan should conclude a nuclear sharing agreement with the U.S. like it has entered into with Germany and Italy, other countries it defeated in World War II.
Twenty-five years after the end of the Cold War, the U.S. is slashing its military budget by five trillion yen a year. Meanwhile, China is gaining power and upping its economic and military power just like the Soviet Union before its collapse. It is also striving for hegemony of the Pacific Ocean. As these major changes are occurring in East Asia, it is highly significant that the new American president may approve Japan’s possession of nuclear weapons. When Abe talks with Trump after his inauguration, I believe Abe should bring up the topic of nuclear sharing along with curtailing the USFJ.
The Morning Edition of the Sankei Shimbun’s International Section contained an article on December 3 entitled, “War Hawks in Trump’s Cabinet.” It read:
In the field of security, Trump has selected for his cabinet former generals with ample military experience, creating a strong, hawkish tone. His pick for secretary of defense is James N. Mattis, former commander of U.S. Central Command, and for national security advisor is Michael T. Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. It is thought this indicates a distinct intention for a stronger crackdown on IS, a radical Sunni Islam organization that is an issue from the time of the Obama administration awaiting the new government.
The Obama administration’s policy was to withdraw from Asia and curtail military spending, but I think Trump will once again enhance American military strength – including more navy warships and increased military expenditures – and build a system in Asia that China cannot make light of. Japan will definitely play a more important military role in this. Japan should speedily develop original weapons using its advanced sciences and technologies, such as railguns and laser guns, and gain deterrence by possessing weapons that could immediately retaliate against enemy bases in the event of an attack. Now that the Abe administration will be a long-term government, Abe should concentrate his energy on amending the constitution and gaining the ability to deter attacks.
December 5 (Monday), 11:00 a.m.