Endurance needed in fight against Japan’s rightist forces

By Su Tan Source:Global Times Published: 2017/1/24 23:13:39

The week-long row over a history book placed in rooms in Japan's APA Hotel chain, which in a startling claim, calls the Nanjing Massacre a fabrication by the Chinese side, continues to simmer. On Tuesday, China's National Tourism Administration demanded travel companies and online operators suspend all cooperation with the chain, and called for Chinese tourists that visit Japan to avoid spending money at these hotels.  

The right-wing narrative of history has never been far from Japan's surface, but what's more worrying is that it tends to be gaining momentum and winning support in recent years. After the book was exposed, Toshio Motoya, the APA Group's founder that penned the book, was audaciously defiant and even arrogantly flaunting the wide support he got, including from lawmakers. Senior Japanese officials like Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga tried to play down the issue.

Japanese have got used to, or are even insensitive to such right-wing rhetoric. Although the incident instantly ignited revulsion and boycotts from Chinese netizens, it wasn't reported in Japan until days later due to the strong Chinese reaction.

Regrettably, while some Japanese backed the Chinese reaction and several Japan-based companies stopped working with APA hotels, there was even applause from Japanese netizens that the incident would scare away Chinese tourists. 

The chapter of Japan's wartime atrocities can never be turned over until Japan learns its due lesson. But given Japan's tendency of shifting to the right under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, this is destined to take a long time and we need to be patient and geared up.

It's irrational to boycott everything from Japan, but in the APA case, a boycott is useful. According to Japanese statistics, last year more than 6.3 million Chinese tourists traveled to Japan, making up the biggest share of foreign visitors that the country hosted. Chinese tourists have a big say in influencing Japanese businesses with their consumption choices. If Chinese people's massive boycott of APA hotels does shake its sales, Japanese businessmen will likely get the hard lesson that they need to distance themselves from rightists.

I stayed in an APA hotel when I made a short business trip to Tokyo in early 2014, and was impressed by the thoughtful service and cozy room. But if the chain's management refuses to change its stance on historical issues, it will definitely be crossed off my list next time I go to Japan.

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