TOKYO • An uproar over right-wing history books placed in the guest rooms of Japanese hotel chain APA is showing no signs of abating.
The latest salvo was fired by China's state news agency Xinhua, which published a scathing commentary titled, "Who are the backstage sponsors of Japan's right-wing forces?"
"In Japanese business circles, there are potent forces which overtly or covertly fund right-wing scholars, groups and politicians and boost their popularity, with the aim to realise their personal ideological aspirations," said Xinhua in the commentary.
The piece, published yesterday shortly after midnight, gave the names of 10 Japanese businessmen and labelled them as right-wing businessmen.
According to Xinhua, these people are involved in activities aimed at whitewashing Japan's wartime history, promoting Taiwan independence and separating Tibet from the mainland.
High on Xinhua's name list is APA chief executive Toshio Motoya, author of the controversial books which triggered the row. Using the pen name Seiji Fuji, the hotelier wrote that stories of the 1937 Nanking Massacre were "impossible". "These acts were all said to be committed by the Japanese army, but this is not true."
HIT THEM WHERE IT HURTS
The actions of Toshio Motoya and like-minded rightists could hurt Japan dearly and well beyond its drive to attract visitors to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
A XINHUA COMMENTARY
China says Japanese troops killed 300,000 people in Nanjing from December 1937 to January 1938. A postwar Allied tribunal put the death toll at about half that.
The books, which have been placed in the guest rooms for years, became an issue in China last week due to a video posting on social media.
Despite the outcry, the Tokyo-based group issued a statement on Tuesday evening, saying it has no plans to withdraw the book, a copy of which is placed in every guest room at 155 of its 400-plus hotels. Mr Motoya says Japan's free speech laws protect him.
The Chinese side piled on the pressure, with China's tourism administration on Wednesday urging tour operators to sever ties with his hotel chain. "We call on Chinese groups and the many tourists that visit Japan to resist APA's wrong approach and avoid spending money at this hotel," said Mr Zhang Lizhong, a spokesman for the China National Tourism Administration.
Xinhua, in a piece published on Tuesday, described the incident as "only the tip of the iceberg of Japan's ultra-right wing's efforts to revise the nation's war history".
According to Xinhua, Mr Motoya is deputy director of Anshin-Kai, a support group for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and has spent huge sums of money to fund a right-wing politician in election campaigns. "Right-wing businessmen like Toshio Motoya are by no means rare in Japan," said the Xinhua commentary.
Other examples are Mr Kasai Yoshiyuki, honorary chairman of JR Central Japan Railway Co, who has provided long-term support to the "Taiwan independence" force and maintained close relations with Mr Abe and former Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui, it added.
The Xinhua commentary said that the Japanese right-wing forces got exasperated because the latest incident has hit them where it hurts most - their pockets.
Last year, Chinese tourists were the biggest spenders among foreign visitors to Japan, spending more than US$13 billion (S$18.5 billion).
APA, which has said Chinese nationals make up about 5 per cent of all guests, will be hosting athletes for this year's Sapporo Asian Winter Games at some of its hotels in Hokkaido.
The latest statement on APA website says it is prepared to consider removing the books from at least some hotels if it receives a formal written request to do so, reported.