The Japanese APA hotel chain has sparked fury among people of China and Japan recently for placing books written by its CEO in its guest rooms denying the Nanjing Massacre and the forced recruitment of “comfort women” ever happened.
The incident, after being exposed on social media by a young woman from the United States and confirmed independently by the media, including Xinhua as well as major Japanese media outlets, has also led to great controversy in Japan.
While some right wing forces fiercely defended the hotel’s act by citing so-called “freedom of speech,” many people in Japan condemned the hotel for wittingly imposing political and historical lies on its customers.
The Tokyo Shimbun newspaper, for example, published an article on Tuesday, which, quoting scholars, pointed out the fallacies in the book by Seiji Fuji, the pen name of the APA CEO, and expressed concerns over Japan’s distorted historical view.
“The book claims that there were only 200,000 people living in the city of Nanjing in 1937. The number is obviously false, as it is too small,” Toru Kubo, a professor of history at Shinshu University, was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
“The key issue is not the scale of the massacre, but that the massacre obviously did happen,” said Kubo.
The newspaper also revealed that Toshio Motoya, the author of the book as well as the CEO of the APA Group, is a vigorous supporter and sponsor of right-wing political causes.
“A hotel would have to shut down if it were found placing Adolf Hitler’s “My Struggle” or books denying the Holocaust in its guest rooms in Germany, ” Takanori Hayao, associate professor at Tokyo Keizai University, was quoted as saying.
“In fact, many Japanese people as well as the media, are opposed to the hotel’s act, for they believe that tourists from China and South Korea bring a myriad of benefits to Japan and it is inappropriate to impose such an ideology on customers in hotels,” Zhu Jianrong, a professor of international relations at Toyo Gakuen University in Tokyo, told Xinhua.
However, many people are afraid to speak up and criticize the hotel in public, as they are scared of attacks and threats by ultra-right wing forces, Zhu pointed out.
Meanwhile, the organizer of Asia’s 8th Asian Winter Games (AWG) in Sapporo told Xinhua on Jan. 19 that it has requested APA to “remove the right-wing books placed in the hotel guest rooms.”
The 8th AWG will be held in Sapporo and Obihiro during Feb. 19-26 and to save costs, the organizing committee has chosen two local hotels as official designated hotels for the athletes, and the APA Hotel & Resort Sapporo is one of the two hotels and will probably accommodate Chinese and South Korean delegations.
Xinhua has since contacted the APA hotel in Sapporo and the hotel has yet to respond directly to Xinhua’s question as to whether it would remove the books from its guest rooms.
But a video posted online shows the CEO of the APA Group, Toshio Motoya, telling a meeting of Shoheijyuku, a right-wing platform for Motoya to preach his ideas, on Jan. 19, that he would not remove the books.
“People will forget about the whole incident in a few months, but will remember the name of the hotel. Maybe the hotel can take advantage of such fame to make up for losses caused by the incident,” he boasted in the video.
When asked about the controversy stirred up by the APA hotel chain’s deed, Japan’s top government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga said on Jan. 18 that “we need to tackle shared global challenges with a forward-looking view, rather than paying excessive attention to our unfortunate history.”
Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda echoed Suga’s words on Tuesday, saying China and Japan should work together on common issues facing the international community, rather than focusing too much on the “unhappy past.”
Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura, said on Monday at a press conference that the Japanese should go to Nanjing to kneel down and apologize if Japanese troops really slaughtered 300,000 people. But he doubted the Nanjing Massacre ever took place.
Regarding the APA incident, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing on Tuesday that China is willing to have friendly exchanges with Japan but will never tolerate brazen distortions of history that hurt the Chinese.
“As for the comments by the mayor, I want to remind him that the Nanjing Massacre is a historical fact recognized by the international community. The mayor should deliver on what he said,” she added.
Also on Tuesday, China’s National Tourism Administration released a call to action, asking Chinese tourism agencies and websites to stop promoting or using the APA chain. The tourism authority also called on Chinese tourists to boycott these hotels. Enditem