Osaka shuts down Apa hotel due to quake-safety flaws

Kyodo

A hotel in Osaka run by the embattled inn chain Apa Group has failed to meet the required quake-resistance standard and was shut down, city officials said Wednesday.

This is is the fourth Apa Group building to be confirmed as defective.

Last month, the Kyoto Municipal Government announced that two of the group’s hotels in the city did not meet required building safety standards. Earlier this month, an Apa Group condominium in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, was also confirmed to be defective.

The structural strength for the Osaka hotel was calculated by Toyama-based Tamura Mizuochi Sekkei, the same firm that did the calculations for the other three buildings.

This time, however, the Osaka Municipal Government did not uncover any evidence of data fabrication for the Apa Hotel Tennoji Ekimae building in the city’s Abeno Ward, the officials said.

According to the officials, the Osaka hotel only had some 70 percent of the legally required structural strength. They said the building could tilt — or even collapse in the worst case — if an earthquake of intensity 5 on the Japanese scale to 7 hit the city.

Osaka made Wednesday’s announcement following inspections on Apa Group hotels in the city, after interviewing Mitsuo Mizuochi, the architect at the center of the data fabrication scandal.

Mizuochi denied he had fabricated data Wednesday. Speaking at his Toyama office, he said: “It is regrettable. I’m confident the building has sufficient strength.”

Mizuochi blamed computer software used for the analysis, saying he and the city of Osaka must have used different versions of the software.

The same day, Osaka ordered Apa Mansion Co., an Apa group firm based in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, that built the 14-story, 108-room building, to immediately take steps to reinforce — or demolish — the hotel, which opened for business last August.

Apa Mansion said in a statement, “We would like to begin reinforcement work immediately.” Customers staying at the Osaka hotel appeared shocked by Wednesday’s news.

“I had made an inquiry (to Apa), with the data fabrication in Kyoto in mind,” a 33-year-old businessman said. “Then I was told there is no problem here because this is a new hotel.”

Last year, construction of two condo complexes, in Tsurugashima, Saitama Prefecture, and the one in Narita, was halted after questions were raised about the quake resistance data prepared by Mizuochi’s office.