Japan hotel considers removing books denying Nanjing Massacre

Signboards featuring pictures of APA hotel chain’s president Fumiko Motoya is seen at its headquarters in Tokyo. Pic: Reuters

A JAPANESE hotel chain at the center of a furore over books its president wrote denying the Nanjing Massacre is prepared to consider removing the books from at least some hotels if it receives a formal written request to do so.

Tokyo-based hotel and real estate developer APA Group came under fire last week for books by president Toshio Motoya, which contain his revisionist views and are placed in every room of the company’s 400-plus APA Hotels.

Motoya, using the pen name Seiji Fuji, wrote that stories of the Nanjing Massacre were “impossible”: “These acts were all said to be committed by the Japanese army, but this is not true.”

China says Japanese troops killed 300,000 people in Nanjing from December 1937-January 1938. A post-war Allied tribunal put the death toll at about half that. To the fury of China, some conservative Japanese politicians and academics deny the massacre took place, or they put the death toll much lower.

Motoya has previously said the hotel had no intention of withdrawing the books, which have appeared for years but only became an issue in China last week due to a video posting on social media, saying Japan’s free speech laws protect him.

But APA said on its website on Tuesday that when negotiations took place in April 2015 about using some hotels to host athletes for the 2017 Sapporo Asian Winter Games on Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, it received a verbal request from a travel agent to remove all printed matter from rooms.

It added that if there was a formal, written request, it was prepared to respond, without giving further details.

SEE ALSO: China’s row with Japanese hotel chain intensifies 

An official with the organizing committee for the Games, set to take place from Feb 19 to Feb 26, said no such written request had been made that he knew of, but that travel agencies could be carrying out individual negotiations with the hotel.

APA did not immediately respond to requests for additional comment.

South Korean athletics officials have expressed displeasure at using APA hotels during the games and asked that the situation be corrected, Kyodo news agency said on Wednesday.

China’s tourism administration has urged tour operators to sever ties with the hotel chain after an escalating row over the denial, and there have been calls on social media for a boycott of both the hotel and travel to Japan.

Motoya told Reuters in an email last week that Chinese made up only 5 percent of guests at his hotels in Japan and he was not worried about the impact of any potential boycott. – Reuters