Dozens of Chinese residents of Japan took to the streets of Tokyo on Sunday to protest against Japanese hotel chain APA for its stubborn refusal to remove books denying the Nanjing Massacre and “comfort women” from its rooms — books which were written by the hotel group’s own CEO.
Protesters gathered in Shinjuku Central Park before marching to an APA hotel about 2 kilometers away, waving banners reading, “Boycott APA, safeguard national dignity,” “Freedom of speech shall not violate human conscience,” and “Peace shall be treasured,” according to CGTN.
The protest managed to attract a counter-protest by a far-right Japanese group with activists following the protesters along their route, shouting over them with megaphones and even trying to snatch away their banners. Fortunately, dozens of Japanese police were on the scene to stop any serious clashes from developing between the two groups.
One 22-year-old Chinese student surnamed Fang told the Global Times that the far-right activists called the protesters “Shina pigs” (“Shina” being a derogatory term for China) and asked them to “get out of Japan,” while also shouting, “the Nanjing Massacre does not exist” and waving the Rising Sun Flag, the symbol of Imperial Japan.
Last month, 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.
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.”
Meanwhile, 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.
In response to APA’s intransigence on the matter, China announced a boycott on the hotel chain in the lead up to the annual Spring Festival holiday, demanding that Chinese tourism operators sever ties with the group and that Chinese tourists not stay at their hotels.
This controversy is boiling over right before the Sapporo 2017 Asian Winter Games is scheduled to take place later this month. During the event, APA has agreed to temporarily remove the books from a hotel which will house Chinese and Korean athletes. Organizers may also find the athletes alternative accommodation.
You can watch video of the protests below:
[Images via CGTN / Oriental Daily // Video via Tencent]
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