TOKYO (TR) – Some 300 protesters marched to an APA Hotels & Resorts outlet in Shinjuku Ward on Sunday to protest the chain’s refusal to remove a book by its CEO that denies the Nanjing Massacre from its rooms.
Organized by the China-Japan Friendship Committee comprising Chinese business operators living in Japan, protesters set off from Shinjuku Central Park at 3 p.m. and marched to an APA outlet near Shinjuku Gyogen national park, the Sankei Shimbun reports (Feb. 5).
Protesters marched for about an hour as they waved banners and signs, some of which read “China-Japan friendship,” “There is freedom of speech, but sound judgment is necessary” and “Protect the dignity of the people,” but never broke out into a chorus of yells, Sankei Sports reported (Feb. 5).
The chain is under fire after refusing to remove from rooms a book by Toshio Motoya, the CEO of the chain’s operator, APA Group, in which he denies the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, calling the historical event an “imaginary” one created by China. He also denies Japan’s forced recruitment of so-called “comfort women” during wartime.
Members of right-wing groups appeared and attempted to snatch a banner saying “We like Japan.”
Right-wing activists clashed with police officers numerous times as they tried to leap interrupt the protesters, which also included university students.
‘Brave Chinese people’
A Chinese woman who sponsored the demonstration said the protest “caused trouble for [people in the neighborhood]. Those who raised their voices this time were brave Chinese people.”
“Friendship between Japan and China is important, but Mr. Motoya’s actions have angered the Chinese people, and this is not good for friendship,” the woman said at the end of the march.
The woman, who has been living in Japan for 10 years, refused to disclose her personal details.
Onlookers appeared to be looking on with astonishment, according to Sankei Sports, which also reported that there were about 100 participants.
A man in his 40s said that “there is freedom of speech so I’m not opposed to what they’re doing, but I honestly have mixed feelings toward these kinds of demonstrations as a Japanese person.”
‘Tip of the iceberg’
China’s state-owned Xinhua News Agency said the case was “only the tip of the iceberg of Japan’s ultra-right wing’s efforts to revise the nation’s war history,” adding that a former Asahi Shimbun journalist was “attacked and defamed” for reporting on the comfort women issue.
APA Group has indicated there are no plans to pull the books, despite condemnations and calls for boycotting the chain by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the China National Tourism Administration.