Athletes from China, S. Korea change hotels in Tokyo after book row

Source:AFP-Global Times Published: 2017/2/7 21:58:39

Japanese organizers of this month's Asian Winter Games have changed the accommodation for Chinese and South Korean athletes after a row over a hotelier's inflammatory war book, officials and local media said Tuesday.

The Tokyo-based APA hotel group and other hotels will welcome some 2,300 athletes and supporters from more than 30 countries to Sapporo for the February 19-26 Games.

But APA, one of Japan's largest hotel chains, has triggered an angry backlash from China for a book written by APA's chief executive and placed in guest rooms, which claims that the infamous 1937 Nanjing Massacre committed by Japanese troops was a "fabrication."

"Considering an instruction from the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and other factors, we have decided that the Chinese and South Korean delegations will not stay at APA hotels," a Japanese official of the organizing committee told AFP.

Local media said the two delegations were originally scheduled to stay at APA hotels, but the committee official declined to confirm this.

Some 230 Chinese and a similar number of South Koreans are being found new accommodations.

The APA chain insisted it would not remove the controversial book, which also disputes Japan's wartime sex slavery in Korea, from its other hotels in Japan and abroad.

But APA said last week it would now "temporarily" remove all items from rooms in Sapporo except those deemed acceptable by Games organizers, though it said the move was not due to external pressure.

More than 300 Chinese in Japan staged a protest in Shinjuku Central Park in Tokyo on Sunday against the APA chain of hotels, holding banners that read, "Boycott APA, safeguard national dignity," and "Free speech requires conscience," Xiao Jie (pseudonym), one of the co-organizers, told the Global Times on Sunday, adding that 150 Tokyo police officers were assigned to maintain order during the protest.

The Japanese right-wing activists kept rushing over and trying to snatch the Chinese protesters' banners.

Toshio Motoya, chief executive of the APA hotel group, wrote the book under a pen name disputing Chinese claims that 300,000 people died in a six-week killing spree by the Japanese military.

He also said that Chinese tourists only make up 5 percent of the APA chain's customers, and that he did not expect the row to affect business.

Takashi Kawamura, mayor of the Japanese city Nagoya, agreed with Motoya, saying "There was no killing of civilians in Nanjing," Japan's Asahi Shimbun reported. "If that [Nanjing Massacre] is true, then all Japanese people shall go to Nanjing and kneel," he said.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Kawamura should keep to his word to kneel and apologize, noting that whoever distorts history and hurts Chinese feelings is intolerable and must pay for it.

AFP - Global Times

Posted in: DIPLOMACY

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