I was interviewed for the October 30 edition of Yukan Fuji. The article based on this interview was titled , “Talking About the October 31 House of Representatives Election: The Problem of a Safe Seat While the Government, Media, and Citizens Lack a Sense of Crisis.” It reads:
Motoya said, “I sense a lack of interest in this lower house election. I think this is because people understand that a change of government is impossible, although the LDP will probably lose some National Diet seats. The LDP’s position is known as a ‘safe seat,’ but I think this is problematic.”
HOTELS, a trade journal based in Chicago, published a special report entitled “HOTELS 225,” with a tagline of, “Despite the pandemic and coming off the worst year in lodging’s history, most of the world’s biggest hotel companies still showed portfolio growth.” The article read:
HOTELS annual ranking of the world’s biggest hotel companies has been slimmed down this year to 200 corporate companies and the usual 25 consortia. The threshold to make the listing now stands at close to 7,000 rooms.
Due to a lack of major mergers and acquisitions in 2020, there are no major changes in the ranking. However, we did remove Oyo from the listing as it was very difficult to substantiate their data and we do believe the Oyo business model is a bit of an outlier, making it hard to compare to other hotel companies. Nonetheless, it is worthy of note that its website boasts 1 million rooms and more than 43,000-member hotels.
Noteworthy movers in the ranking include Sonesta International Hotels Corp., which jumped to 51st in the ranking from 96th after making multiple deals with its parent, Service Properties Trust. Their ranking will likely significantly jump up again next year as this year’s data does not even include its 2021 final acquisition of Red Lion.
While there were other notable high flyers, what did not change is the top of the ranking, led by Marriott International. Hilton broke the 1 million room count and what also remains noticeable is the growing number of Chinese hotel companies climbing the ranking.
There are stories aplenty to be found inside HOTELS annual list. On the pages ahead, find the movers that continue to grow their portfolios and see if you can identify the strugglers that might become acquisition targets.
APA Group moved up this ranking to number 19 worldwide, with 662 hotels and 103,159 rooms.
I will quote once again from the October 30 Yukan Fuji article based on my interview:
People are looking for this industry to make a full-scale comeback due to the dramatic decrease in COVID-19 cases. In these circumstances, Motoya is concerned about the changes in the environment related to Japan’s national security.
“China has declared its ambitions regarding Taiwan and is expanding its military. A war or dispute could break out if the military balance crumbles. A crisis in Taiwan would directly lead to crises in Okinawa and Japan. During this House of Representatives election, people should be talking more about foreign and national security policy. Our peaceful country has become overly complacent.”
Motoya has continually called for Japan to revise its constitution to re-establish a common understanding about the need to protect our own country. However, listening to the topics being discussed during this election, today there is less momentum towards constitutional change than during the Shinzo Abe administration.
On the question of how we should view the leaders of majority and minority parties in this time of impending danger, Motoya said, “Kishida seems to be a mild-mannered prime minster. That’s fine in times of peace, but I’m a bit concerned about whether he could handle an emergency. He should be making stronger statements about the Chinese and Russian flotilla sailing around Japan. If Japan is defeated in wars of words, the people will feel anxious. CDP leader Yukio Edano often puts up a common front with the JDP – which has a platform calling for the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty to be annulled and the JSDF to be disbanded – in this security environment. I cannot help but think they have no real intention of actually winning political power.”
What sorts of foreign and national security policies did the political parties make promises about during their House of Representatives campaigns? Buntaro Kuroi wrote an article comparing and analyzing the public promises of each party, entitled “Checking the National Security Policies of Each Party,” that was posted on FRIDAY DIGITAL on October 29. He says the LDP puts the greatest emphasis on economic security, namely “formulating an ‘Economic Security Maintenance Law’ (tentative name) to safeguard the supply of important commodities and prevent the fraudulent leakage of goods and technologies to overseas countries.” In addition to training IT security professionals to prevent technology leakage, the LDP is trying to strengthen the Public Security Intelligence Agency to improve intelligence abilities in the economic security field. Their fundamental policy for national defense is to reinforce the Japanese-American alliance. The LDP is also taking a stance of pursuing human rights issues with China in mind, and has specifically named Uyghur, Tibet, and Inner Mongolia. In addition, the LDP is trying to substantially enhance defense capability from FY2022, aiming for a national defense budget equivalent to 2% or more of the GDP, which is on par with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries. The LDP has also mentioned the ability to strike enemy bases, and “will implement new initiatives to improve deterrence, including the ability to obstruct ballistic missiles and other weapons in territories belonging to other countries, and strengthening Japan’s ability to handle ballistic missiles, etc.” The Komeito promises essentially the same things as the LDP, but it has also alluded to establishing an environment for ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, as well as restrictions on developing lethal autonomous weapons (LAWs, fully stand-alone weapons that can be programmed to autonomously attack and kill targets with no human participation).
Meanwhile, the CDP has the same Japan-U.S. alliance-based vision as the LDP of “promoting multilateral negotiations with the Asia-Pacific region (particularly neighboring countries), such as Australia and India, and implementing pragmatic foreign and security policy to strengthen ties with other countries.” The CDP clearly criticizes China by name, saying, “China is violating international law with its provocative actions against Japan near the Senkaku Islands and its attempts to change the status quo in the South China Sea based on its unilateral claims.” On the topic of defending the Senkaku Islands, the CDP states that Japan should submit a “bill for enhancing territorial security and strengthening the Japan Coast Guard structure.” The Komeito differs from the LDP in that it wants to halt construction of the new Henoko base in Okinawa and is against introducing Aegis system ships, which are planned to replace Aegis Ashore. The JCP is totally different from the LDP because it criticizes Japan’s dependence on the U.S. and calls for the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty to be voided. It states that Japan should conclude a Japan-U.S. friendship treaty that puts the two countries on equal footing, and is opposed to purchasing large quantities of American-made weapons and turning destroyers into aircraft carriers. Regarding China, the JCP strongly condemns China’s hegemonism and censures the LDP/Komeito government’s weak stance. On the other hand, the JCP emphasizes the importance of a soft course to build a relationship with China founded on a peaceful regional order. Nippon Ishin and the Democratic Party for the People fundamentally agree with the LDP/Komeito’s view of using the Japan-U.S. alliance as a foundation. The Reiwa Shinsengumi opposes Japan’s current security policy. The Social Democratic Party states that it is against Japan-U.S. military exercises and the new Henoko base.
Kuroi’s analysis is that national security will not be a point at issue in this election since civilian interest is more focused on COVID-19 and economic issues. In addition, he says this is because “there are more difficulties now in Japan’s security environment.” He writes:
Denuclearization expectations rose afterwards for some time, including the sudden U.S.-North Korea summit meeting. But that mood has entirely passed today, and North Korea once again started launching missiles in September.
China is crushing democracy and eliminating the pro-democracy faction in Hong Kong in a heavy-handed manner. It is also carrying out large-scale oppression of the Uyghur people. China is rapidly strengthening its military force, including fighters, aircraft carriers, and submarines, and people are increasingly voicing their concern about a crisis in Taiwan.
National security policy should be of premium importance – and should be a major point of discussion – if a Taiwan crisis poses a growing threat to Japan. However, this is not happening because there is little difference between influential political parties in their policies regarding the increasing threat to Japan.
Kuroi says that no active discussions will take place on the issue of national security. The ruling party and opposition parties are all uninformed about this topic, so their discussions wander off course without tackling these issues in any specificity.
In the Yukan Fuji interview, more than anything I wanted to point out that Japanese people should not depend wholly on the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. This treaty was effective when the U.S. was the most powerful nation in the world, but today China is gaining greater economic and military strength while the U.S. is turning inward in a way that recalls the Monroe Doctrine. The U.S. Armed Forces stationed in other countries are also being reduced, including their withdrawal from Afghanistan. Japan must take note of this changing American viewpoint of national security.
Despite the existence of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, to what degree would the increasingly inward-looking U.S. fight together with Japan in the event of a Japanese emergency? We cannot expect too much of the U.S. now that its security perspective has changed. At the very least, I think the U.S. would want Japan to fight on its own first. We can only say that a state is “independent” if it works to protect its own territory and people and defend its self-made political structure. A genuine alliance means that independent states help each other and fight on each other’s behalf when one is invaded. However, Article 9 of the constitution limits Japan so it cannot become an independent nation or form genuine alliances.
I have visited the Japanese Naval Memorial at the British naval cemetery on Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. In accordance with the Anglo-Japanese Alliance during World War I, Japan sent its 2nd Special Squadron of the navy to the Mediterranean to fulfill a request from Britain. The squadron spent 1.5 years escorting British troop ships and fighting German U-boats. The squadron guarded many ships and was highly lauded by the British navy. When the Japanese destroyer Sakaki was torpedoed, 59 soldiers were killed in battle, including the captain. A total of 73 Japanese people are interred at the British cemetery on Malta, including these soldiers and those who died from diseases during their deployment. Unlike the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, the Anglo-Japanese Alliance meant that Japan fought in Europe for Britain’s sake, and some Japanese soldiers even lost their lives. To me, this signifies that it was a genuine alliance. Japan will not be safe unless it returns to the starting point of the Japan-U.S. alliance and builds a relationship of mutual protection rather than one-sided defense. I think this is even more true now that disparities between China and the U.S. are rapidly shrinking during the new Sino-American cold war. Japan must amend its constitution as soon as possible to become a truly independent state and revise the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty into a more reciprocal treaty. I also think we are at the stage when we should conclude a collective security treaty with nearby friendly nations to create a structure like the European NATO.
The LDP won an overwhelming majority of 261 seats in the October 31 House of Representatives election. Together with the 32 Komeito seats, the ruling party can now run the government in a stable manner with 293 Diet members. If we add the Nippon Ishin seats, this total comes to 334, more than the two thirds (310) required to propose a constitutional revision initiative. This is a perfect opportunity; the LDP has enough seats, and gaining citizen support will be an easy task. I think the ruling party should push forward with revising the constitution, strengthening intelligence, and enacting bold security policy centered on increasing defense spending to 2% of the GDP. Over the next few years, Japan will have to take steps to ensure it does not eventually become an autonomous region of China. Lively discussions about security should also take place in various arenas, from the National Diet to the citizens. I hope many people will obtain more relevant knowledge about this topic and think deeply about Japan’s future.
November 12 (Friday), 5:00 p.m.