Business

Apa takes flak from China over books in its inns denying Nanking Massacre

by Tomoko Otake

Staff Writer

Major hotel chain operator Apa Group is facing fierce criticism after two students who stayed at one of its hotels in Tokyo posted a video about a book written by its CEO, which claims the 1937 Nanking Massacre committed by the Imperial Japanese Army was “fabricated by the Chinese side.”

The book “Theoretical Modern History II — The Real History of Japan,” was written by CEO Toshio Motoya under the pen name Seiji Fuji and was published by the firm last June.

The clip shows a female American student recounting her experience staying at an Apa hotel in Tokyo and being shocked after stumbling upon the book, which argues the incident “did not actually happen.”

The video, uploaded on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo on Sunday, has caused an uproar in China. The clip had been played more than 95 million times as of Wednesday afternoon, even provoking a Chinese Foreign Ministry official to criticize the book.

The chain operates 415 hotels with a total of 67,500 rooms, according to the Apa group website. It has recently expanded to North America, where it has acquired 40 hotels.

About 20 percent of the chain’s guests are non-Japanese, the company said, noting Chinese nationals make up about 5 percent of all guests.

The Tokyo-based group issued a statement Tuesday evening saying it has no plans to withdraw the book, a copy of which is placed in every guest room at 155 of its hotels.

The uproar has not affected the number of cancellations, the company said in an email to The Japan Times.

“Although we acknowledge that historic interpretation and education vary among nations, please clearly understand that the book is not aimed to criticize any specific state or nation, but for the purpose of letting readers learn the fact-based true interpretation of modern history. Therefore, we have no intention to withdraw this book from our guest rooms, no matter how many denounces may be made about it from whatever viewpoint. Japan constitutionally guarantees freedom of speech and no one-sided pressures could force any assertion made get repealed.”

In the book, compiled from Motoya’s column in the firm’s monthly newsletter Apple Town, he denies the massacre ever took place.

“There are absolutely no records such as diaries, letters, or photographs by people from a third country — such as Americans or Europeans — who witnessed the massive killing, except for two people who were employed by the Kuomintang (KMT) public relations department,” the book says. “For these and other reasons, it is clear that the Nanking Massacre was fabricated by the Chinese side and did not actually happen.”

The Japanese government says the killing of civilians and plundering by Imperial Japanese soldiers cannot be denied, but does not specify the scope of the attack, noting that historians are divided on the number of victims.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a news conference Tuesday that the chain’s attitude is another reminder of reluctance by some in Japan to accept the country’s history of aggression against Asian neighbors. “This once again shows that some forces in Japan are still reluctant to look squarely at history, and even try to deny and distort history,” she said.

The state-run Global Times, an English-language newspaper known for its nationalist bent, reported that the Huangwang Group, a Chinese-funded travel company in Japan, will stop making reservations for Apa hotels unless the CEO withdraws the book and publicly apologizes.

Since the video went viral, the company’s booking site has been shut down due to server trouble, and remained inaccessible as of Wednesday night. “There has been an abnormal volume of accesses, which is believed to be a cyberattack,” the company said.

In a recent edition of the firm’s newsletter, Motoya also writes that the inauguration on Friday of Donald Trump as U.S. president is “a chance for Japan to become a truly independent country.”

“If Trump becomes president and demands Japan pay the entire cost of stationing U.S. troops in Japan, Japan should let the U.S. military pull out of the country and turn its sites into bases for the Self-Defense Forces,” he wrote. “Or we can be more business-like and cut the entire sympathy budget and charge them for all the national or local government-owned land plots being leased to the U.S. bases. Trump would then have no choice but to swallow our demands.”