Published on : Friday, January 20, 2017
A Japanese hotelier’s disagreement of a 1937 massacre by Japanese troops in the Chinese city of Nanjing has prompted Chinese social media calls for a refusal of travel to Japan, threatening tourist arrivals days before the Lunar New Year holidays. The fracas erupted over books by Toshio Motoya, the president of Tokyo-based hotel and real estate developer APA Group, which contain his revisionist views and are placed in every room of the company’s 400-plus APA Hotels.
To quote Motoya, “These acts were all said to be committed by the Japanese army, but this is not true.” Japan’s wartime seizure of Nanjing and resulting carnage is a highly contentious issue between the troubled neighbours. China says that Japanese troops killed 300,000 people in the city. A post-war Allied tribunal put the death toll at about half that number. What infuriated China is the denial of some conservative Japanese politicians and academics that the massacre at all took place and their putting the death toll much lower.
Motoya’s latest book caught Chinese attention after it was uploaded on a Chinese social networking site, igniting criticism on Chinese social media and boycott travel. One writer on China’s Weibo platform wrote, “Any Chinese person with self-respect for their nationality should boycott Japanese goods and boycott travelling to Japan.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that Japan needs to reflect on past and “ensure its population is exposed to a true telling of history”. Motoya was, however, defiant in his denial of the Nanjing massacre. He said, “In Japan, where the freedom of expression is protected, I will continue to transmit my thoughts and beliefs.” Foreign tourism in Japan has increased in the last few years. Around 24 million foreigners visited Japan in 2016, according to estimates, up by 22% from 2015, according to the Japan National Tourist Organization.
Chinese tourists topped the list at 6.3 million, up nearly by 28% from 2015. The shopping by Chinese tourists has injected new energy into a slow-moving economy.
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