South Korean people condemn a right-wing Japanese hotel chain, which caused uproar by placing books distorting the Imperial Japan’s wartime history in guestrooms of its 400-plus hotels.
APA Group touched off anger online both in South Korea and China for books, one of the hotel chain’s amenities, which deny the 1937 Nanjing massacre and the comfort women, or Korean women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese military brothels before and during World War II.
A video was recently posted on a social networking site showing passages from a book, titled “The Real History of Japan: Theoretical Modern History Two,” authored by Toshio Motoya, president of the Japanese land developer and operator of hotels for budget-conscious tourists.
His book, written under the penname of Seiji Fuji, supports history revisionist views, claiming that Japan’s wartime atrocities were concocted by South Korea and China. It describes comfort women victims as common prostitutes, while claiming the Nanjing massacre was fabricated despite a plethora of evidences.
“Such absurd acts by civilian Japanese rightists were triggered partly at the instigations of the right-wing Japanese government and right-leaning media outlets,” Cheong Wooksik, director of local advocacy group Peace Network, told Xinhua on Saturday.
Choeng said promoting and selling books, which deny the comfort women issue and the Nanjing massacre, is an “unrighteous act” though Motoya is just a civilian hotelier, urging the Japanese government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to take the lead in looking squarely at history.
Though there are conscientious activists working in Japan, the director said, ultra-right moves spread on shortage of government and media efforts in Japan to allay “clannish nationalistic acts,” which he said are very regrettable amid frayed ties between Northeast Asian neighbors.
South Korean news organizations, the majority of them focusing on the scandal that resulted in the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, put their spotlight on right-leaning responses from Japanese netizens.
Yonhap news agency reported that a majority of comments, posted by Japanese netizens on the Internet, support the distorted books put in APA’s hotel rooms, with some encouraging the hotel executives and others describing it as freedom of speech.
The report caused furor here over Japan, leading South Korean netizens to post negative online comments on the Japanese hotel chain and the right-leaning Japanese society.
One netizen denounced the denials of the massacre in Nanjing and the forcible recruitment of comfort women as “bullshit,” with another regarding the book as part of the hotelier’s strategy to court right-wing Japanese tourists in the right-leaning country. Another netizen demanded the cancellations of travel to Japan.
Motoya and his wife Fumio Motoya, founders of the privately-owned APA Group, are famous backers of Abe for a long time, according to local newspaper Chosun Ilbo posting an undated photo showing the Motoyas and Abe.
The newspaper denounced the hotel chain likening its complete history distortion to free speech. APA has refused to remove the contentious books from rooms, saying in a statement that Japan guarantees freedom of speech.
Controversy over the right-wing literature followed a diplomatic friction between South Korea and Japan over the statue symbolizing teenager South Korean victims to Japan’s wartime sex enslavement.
The bronze, life-size statue of a seated girl which is dressed in traditional Korean costume was put up outside the Japanese consulate in South Korea’s southern port city of Busan in December. The first statue was placed in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul in December 2011.
In retaliation, Japan recalled its ambassador to South Korea and its consul general in Busan, stopping negotiations on the bilateral currency swap deal.
The Busan statue was installed by South Korean civilians to protest against the Park Geun-hye government’s “final and irreversible” agreement with Japan on the comfort women issue that was reached on Dec. 28, 2015.
It caused a barrage of criticism for the absence of Japan’s acknowledgement of legal responsibility and its sincere apology for the wartime crime against humanity.
“The Dec. 28 agreement should not have been reached,” said Cheong, the Peace Network director.
He noted that Japan will disgrace itself if it continues to attempt the removal of the Busan statue, which he said was set up to prevent the brutalities from happening again through promulgations. Enditem