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China urges boycott of APA hotel chain over CEO’s Nanjing Massacre denial

China is urging tourists, travel agencies and booking sites to boycott hotel chain APA
China is urging tourists to boycott APA Hotels & Resorts over a controversial book the chain places in its rooms (Nippon News Network)

SHANGHAI (TR) – China’s tourism body instructed travel agencies to cut ties with APA Hotels & Resorts on Tuesday as tensions rise over its refusal to remove a book by the chain’s CEO that denies the Nanjing Massacre from its rooms.

The state-owned Xinhua News Agency said the China National Tourism Administration urged travel agents and websites to remove listings and advertisements for APA, the Asahi Shimbun reports (Jan. 24).

Major booking sites have already ceased listing APA outlets after the chain refused 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.

APA Group has indicated there are no plans to pull the books, telling the Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 24) that the group “questions a government criticizing one private company individually, but we are not in a position to make comments. There will be no change in our response.”

“Freedom of speech is guaranteed in Japan, and the withdrawal of an assertion through one-sided pressure will not be forgiven,” a representative of APA Group said.

“Tip of iceberg of Japan’s ultra-right wing’s efforts”

According to the Sankei Shimbun, the China National Tourism Administration is “firmly opposed” to an “open provocation to Chinese tourists, one that violates the basic ethics of the travel industry,” spokesman Zhang Lizhong said.

China is seeking friendly relations with Japan, but “provocative actions that distort history and hurt the feelings of Chinese people will never be forgiven,” said Hua Chunying, spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Lizhong has also called on tourists visiting Japan to boycott the APA chain, which bills itself on its website as providing “refinement of progressive city hotels” under the motto “Best for the Guest.”

The 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.