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Japan organizer: No history book at hotel during Asian Games

Japan organizer: No history book at hotel during Asian Games

TOKYO — Japanese organizers for next month’s Asian Winter Games said Tuesday that contentious history books will be removed from guestrooms at a hotel that will be used to house athletes.

The organizers also said that Chinese athletes will stay at another hotel in accordance with a request from Beijing.

A rapidly growing Japanese hotel chain operator, APA Group, has faced criticism in China and elsewhere over a history book written by its owner which says the 1937 Nanjing Massacre involving Japanese soldiers was fabricated. Copies of the book are placed in the guestrooms at most of APA’s nearly 400 hotels across Japan.

Japanese organizers and the hotel said they have agreed that all printed materials, including the book, will be removed from guestrooms at APA’s Sapporo hotel during the Feb. 19-26 event.

Yasushi Suzuki, an official in charge of accommodations at the organizing committee, said it reminded the hotel on Monday to remove all printed materials unrelated to the games from its guestrooms, a condition the hotel agreed to last year ahead of the history book flap. APA said on its website Tuesday it will comply with the request.

Only printed materials needed for the games are allowed inside hotel rooms during the event to ensure religious and political neutrality, Suzuki said.

The organizers have also decided to put approximately 250 Chinese athletes in the Sapporo Prince Hotel, another designated accommodation for the games, instead of APA at the request of Chinese Olympic authorities, Suzuki said.

The issue is the latest dispute between the Asian neighbours over Japanese aggression before and during World War II. It follows recent tensions between Japan and South Korea over a Korean statue representing “comfort women” used for sex in Japanese military-linked wartime brothels from the 1930s to the war’s end.

In the book, “The Real History of Japan: Theoretical Modern History II,” APA president Toshio Motoya writes that the Nanjing Massacre is an “imaginary” event concocted by China to criticize Japan. The book also denies that Japan forced “comfort women” to provide sex to Japanese soldiers.

The wartime massacre of Chinese citizens by the Japanese military in Nanking, now called Nanjing, is one of the biggest flashpoints between the two countries. China says up to 300,000 people were killed, while Japanese nationalists put the number much lower or deny the massacre entirely.

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Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

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Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press