Apa under fire again, this time for anti-Semitic remarks

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

The Apa Group finds itself once again facing international criticism, this time for anti-Semitic comments made in a magazine distributed to five group-owned hotels in Canada, including an additional one that is leased.

In the February edition of the group’s magazine Apple Town, provided to guests at Canada’s Coast Hotels, Apa Hotels founder Toshio Motoya is quoted as saying: “Jewish people control American information, finance, and laws, and they benefit greatly from globalization because they move their massive profits to tax havens so they don’t have to pay any taxes. Many Jewish people support the Democratic Party.”

The real estate entrepreneur made the comments in an article bearing the subtitle: “An American counteroffensive against Jewish globalism.” This was part of an interview under the broader title of “Trump’s Presidency is an Opportunity for Constitutional Reform,” focused on the election of U.S. president Donald Trump and what it means for Japan.

Motoya was forced to issue a statement after Jewish groups in Canada demanded that Coast Hotels, owned by the APA Group, remove the offending material. The hotel chain got rid of the magazines and apologized while Motoya issued a statement that was posted on the website of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver.

“It is very unfortunate that my writings gave you an erroneous impression that I hold anti-Semitic beliefs,” Motoya said.

Naho Udagawa, a spokeswoman for the Apa Group said hotel guests will find in their rooms only the March edition of Apple Town, which does not include the hotel group’s apology. This magazine is available only in six Coast Hotels in Canada and not in the company’s American hotels.

Debby Shoctor, chief executive officer of The Jewish Federation of Edmonton, said in an email to The Japan Times that she did not believe Motoya’s apology was sincere.

“He seems to be a Japanese apologist and to think that Japan is superior to other countries in the world, and that the Japanese are superior,” she said.

Rabbi David Kunin, who heads the Jewish Community of Japan center in Tokyo, expressed concern about Motoya’s comments.

“It’s very disturbing to see this kind of anti-Semitic literature coming out of Japan. I know that Jews everywhere are concerned by these kinds of accusations,” he said.

The controversy in Canada comes less than a month after the Apa Group came under fire for placing in its hotel rooms in Japan books written by Motoya that claim that the 1937 Nanking Massacre by the Imperial Japanese Army was a fabrication. The furor led to calls in China to boycott the group’s hotels.

While the Apa Group said late last month that it has no plans to withdraw the book, it may consider removing copies from a Sapporo hotel where participants in the Asian Winter Games, which start February 19th, will be staying.

In a written statement from a representative with the Committee Against Anti-Semitism in Japan, which operates under the auspices of the Jewish Community of Japan and maintains close ties with the Simon Wiesenthal Center and other international organizations, said the group was aware of the situation at the company’s hotels.

“Even if the material in Motoya’s books and newsletters is not intentionally malicious, there’s always the possibility that certain people will read it, develop antagonistic views, and circulate such harmful views among their peers. This is how conspiracies get started,” the statement said.