• Kyodo News


Police turned over to prosecutors Tuesday their case against Prince Hotels Inc. President Yukihiro Watanabe, three other officials and the company itself for allegedly canceling reservations for members of the Japan Teachers Union at a hotel without just reason.

The Japan Teachers Union (Nikkyoso), an umbrella group for teacher unions nationwide, reserved about 190 rooms at the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa in Minato Ward, Tokyo, in November 2007 for a planned meeting there the following February.

Watanabe, 61, and the three others — Masahiko Koyama, 52, general manager of the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa, and two of its managers in charge of management and banquets — have admitted to the allegations, investigative sources said.

They said they refused to let the union stay “out of necessity” because rightwing groups might have gathered nearby to protest the meeting, annoying its customers and neighbors.

The Metropolitan Police Department suspects the four executives and the hotel operator broke the hotel business law by unilaterally canceling their reservations.

The law prohibits hotels from refusing accommodations, except for people suffering from infectious diseases or suspected of being involved in unlawful acts.

The hotel also refused to offer a venue for the meeting.

The union responded by seeking a court order in December 2007 for the hotel to let the union use the hotel for its annual National Conference on Education Research.

The Tokyo High Court granted the order in January 2008, but the hotel failed to let the union hold its meeting there, forcing its cancellation.

In March 2008, Minato Ward said Prince Hotel’s refusal to accommodate the union violated the hotel business law and told it to prevent a similar mistake in the future.

The union filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court against Prince Hotels the same month, seeking about ¥300 million in damages. It also lodged a criminal complaint with the police over the case.

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