China city turns Japan-funded hall into a hotel facility

Kyodo

The city of Jilin in northeast China’s Jilin Province has converted a bilateral friendship hall financed with aid from the city of Yamagata into a hotel facility without Japanese approval, Yamagata officials said recently.

The development has prompted members of the Yamagata Municipal Assembly to call for a full refund of half of the ¥70 million construction cost the city contributed as a donation when the two cities became friends in 1983, they said.

The three-story brick hall, built in 2000, was refurbished in 2005 and leased to a private-sector hotel operator, they said.

Although the 890-sq.-meter hall building used to have Japanese-style rooms and an exhibition room for folk crafts made by Yamagata citizens and businesses, it has been transformed into an entertainment facility for a 5,900-sq.-meter hotel built next to it and connected to the hall, they said.

The hotel was originally constructed in 2000 as a Jilin municipal-run accommodation facility, and was later sold to a private-sector hotel operator.

“The building no longer looks like a friendship hall,” a Yamagata official said.

The Jilin municipal government has refused to reinstate the building to its former purpose and has instead proposed closing it down and putting it up for sale, according to the officials.

Jilin and Yamagata established a sister-city agreement partly because many ethnic Japanese left behind as orphans at the end of the war are living in the area.

Although Jilin says it originally planned to finance operating expenses of the hall with proceeds from the adjacent accommodation facility, it later sold the facility and leased the refurbished hall to the hotel operator due to financial difficulties.