China boycotts Japan hotel chain APA over Nanjing Massacre denials

China has called for a boycott of APA hotels after the chain's CEO denied the Nanjing Massacre took place.

Story highlights

  • The book placed in guest rooms says the Nanjing Massacre did not happen
  • Chinese tourists were the biggest spenders of all visitors in Japan last year

(CNN)China has ordered tour agencies and online travel bookers to boycott a Japanese hotel chain after it placed books in guest rooms denying the Nanjing Massacre took place.

A spokesman for the China National Tourism Administration said the actions of hotel chain APA Group were "an open provocation to Chinese tourists."
"We demand that all operators with international tours and online platforms completely stop all cooperation with this hotel," Zhang said.
He also urged Chinese tourists already in Japan to boycott the chain as well.
APA told CNN in an email that it was surprised about the "sudden fuss" regarding the book but has no intention to change its policy or remove the books
"The cancellation from the Chinese customers apparently happening, but as we have reservations for other customers. There is no big impact for us," APA said.
Guards place wreaths at a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre in China.

Free speech

In a statement last week, APA defended its placement of the book -- written by CEO Toshio Motoya -- on the grounds of freedom of expression.
"Although we acknowledge that historic interpretation and education vary among nations, please clearly understand that the book is not aimed to criticize any specific state or nation, but for the purpose of letting readers learn the fact-based true interpretation of modern history," the chain said.
An estimated 300,000 people died during the Nanjing Massacre -- a weeks-long spree of mass killings, rape and looting after the Japanese military occupied Nanjing in late 1937 and 1938.
The book claims that figure is "absurd" and argues that the incident was "fabricated by the Chinese side and did not actually happen."
The Nanjing Massacre is well-documented. It was discussed in the Tokyo War Crimes trials following WWII, and in 2015 documents related to the incident were added to UNESCO's Memory of the World Register.
APA did not respond to a request for comment on the claims of the book, and the chain said Tuesday it was still willing to accept reservations from Chinese tourists.
Chinese tourists spent about $13 billion in Japan last year.

Boycott

After two Chinese tourists wrote about finding the book in their hotel room earlier this month, the issue blew up on Chinese social media, with many demanding for an apology from the chain and calling for a boycott.
Chinese tourists have been a huge boon to Japan's economy in recent years. In 2016, they became the biggest spenders of all foreign visitors to the country, spending over $13 billion, according to state media.
On Tuesday, China's state-run news agency Xinhua 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."
"A small group of Japanese individuals are desperate to erase the historical crime," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Monday.
"The more eager they are to do so, the more likely it will evoke people's memory of the past. These regressive behaviors have already triggered strong indignation of the Chinese people."