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Japan hotel chain under fire for book denying Nanjing massacre

Chinese historians say more than 300,000 Chinese soldiers and civilians were killed in Nanjing in December 1937

world Updated: Jan 19, 2017 21:48 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
A signboard outside APA hotel chain's headquarters in Tokyo, Japan.(REUTERS)

One of Japan’s biggest hotel chains has been rebuked by Beijing, and Chinese travel agencies have boycotted it, after it was revealed that the owner of the chain wrote a book denying that the Japanese army carried out a massacre in Nanjing city in eastern China during World War II.

A Chinese historian recently came across the book, titled The Real History of Japan, in a room of the APA hotel, owned by Toshio Motoya, while travelling in Japan. The book was widely available in the hotel chain and residents could buy copies from the hotel’s gift shops.

The Japanese occupation of China during the 1930s and particularly the events in Nanjing — known as the massacre of Nanjing or the rape of Nanjing — are sensitive topics. Chinese historians say Nanjing was home to more than 600,000 residents before the Japanese attack and occupation; more than 300,000 Chinese soldiers and civilians were killed in December 1937.

Chinese state media reported that the book refers to the “300,000 people slaughtered in Nanking” as “falsehood” and the Nanjing Massacre in China, “comfort women” and large-scale forced prostitution in South Korea as “untruths”.

The state-controlled Global Times newspaper reported: “As of September 2016, there were 413 hotels or resorts and 70,000 hotel rooms under the APA Group. Company figures show that during peak tourist season, about 40% of its hotel rooms are occupied by foreigners — half of them from China and South Korea”.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the Japanese government must ensure that Japanese people are exposed to authoritative versions of history. She said the book “again shows that some forces within Japan refuse to squarely face history and even attempt to deny and distort history”.

According to the Chinese official news agency Xinhua, despite the protest, the APA hotel chain has refused to remove the book from its rooms.

Zhang Jianjun, chief researcher with the Nanjing Massacre Research Institute, told Xinhua that “…the book is a fabrication based on the rhetoric of the Japanese right-wing”.

The official statement from the APA group said it had received a “flood of opinion” on the controversy but said it would not withdraw the book.

“Although we acknowledge that historic interpretation and education vary among nations, please clearly understand that the book is not aimed to criticise 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,” the company said in a statement.

First Published: Jan 19, 2017 21:48 IST