China’s tourism administration has told all tour operators to immediately cease doing business with Japanese hotel chain APA after the group’s decision not to remove books denying the Nanjing Massacre and “comfort women” from its hotel rooms following a massive backlash from China.
“The wrongdoing of APA Hotel is a blatant provocation of Chinese tourists, and it severely violates the morals of tourism industry, which we strongly oppose,” Zhang Lizhong, China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) spokesman, said at a press conference in Beijing earlier today.
Along with demanding that outbound tourism operators and online tourism platforms cut ties with the hotel group and remove any advertising, the tourism authority has also asked individual Chinese tourists not to patronize any APA hotel.
For the time being at least, that does seem unlikely. Last week, Chinese social media exploded into uproar over a video from two New York University students exposing the controversial reading material on offer at APA hotels, a major Japanese hotel chain based in Tokyo. Published in Japanese with an English translation, but not a Chinese one, one of the students read selections aloud from Theoretical Modern History II — The Real History of Japan for Chinese netizens to hear:
But China has toned down its claims that 300,000 people were slaughtered at Nanking and that the Senkaku Islands are Chinese territory, perhaps because it becomes increasingly clear that these are falsehoods the more these issues are discussed.
The book was written by APA Group CEO Toshio Motoya under the pen name Seiji Fuji. Elsewhere in the book, he writes that the massacre was “fabricated by the Chinese side and did not actually happen” and denies that Japanese soldiers forced Chinese and Korean women to become their sex slaves. If you want to read more, the book can be found inside each room in the chain’s 400 plus hotels, as well as at the front desks.
Last week, China’s Foreign Ministry urged APA to remove the controversial books. However, rather than back down from the resulting backlash from China, the hotel chain flatly refused, calling the books “fact-based true interpretations of modern history” which are not aimed at “criticizing any specific state or nation.”
Motoya himself even doubled down at a Japanese far-right event, gloating about all the fame that the books have brought to his hotels, adding that in a few months the whole squabble will be forgotten, but the name “APA” will remain in people’s minds, helping them to recoup any losses.
The Japanese hotelier also said that he has received an outpouring of public support in Japan, including from politicians. Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda tried to downplay the incident, saying that the two countries ought to work toward a better future, rather than focus on an “unhappy past.” A response that has angered Chinese media.
In recent years, more and more Chinese tourists have been visiting Japan, providing an important boost to the country’s economy. Last year, some 6.3 million Chinese tourists visited Japan, and China has become Japan’s largest source of foreign tourism.
Still, despite these threats, Motoya said during an earlier interview that he was not worried, claiming that a mere 5% of his hotel chain’s customers came from China.
With an all-out boycott now in effect, we’ll have to wait and see if he sticks to his words.
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