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FILE PHOTO - Signboards featuring pictures of APA hotel chain's president Fumiko Motoya is seen at its headquarters building in Tokyo, Japan, January 19, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon /File Photo(reuters_tickers)
By Elaine Lies
TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese hotel chain under fire for books its president wrote denying the Nanjing Massacre in wartime China will remove them from a hotel hosting athletes at the 2017 Sapporo Asian Winter Games, organisers said on Wednesday.
The Tokyo-based hotel and real estate developer APA Group is at the centre of a furore over books by president Toshio Motoya, which contain his revisionist views on history and are placed in every room of the company's 400-plus APA Hotels.
Motoya, using the pen name Seiji Fuji, wrote of the Nanjing Massacre that "these acts were all said to be committed by the Japanese army, but this is not true." He also denied stories of Korean women forced to work as prostitutes in wartime military brothels, the so-called "comfort women."
China says Japanese troops killed 300,000 people in Nanjing from December 1937 to January 1938. A post-war Allied tribunal put the death toll at about half that. To the fury of China, some conservative Japanese politicians and academics deny the massacre took place, or they put the death toll much lower.
An official for the 2017 Sapporo Asian Winter Games, which will run from Feb 19 to 26, said that when the APA hotel in Sapporo was chosen to host athletes last year it had verbally agreed to remove the contentious material from the rooms.
"Our goal is to make an environment where all the athletes can perform at their best," added the official, who declined to be named. Organisers are also working to find alternative lodging for Chinese athletes.
APA said in a statement posted on their website late on Tuesday that it had received a written request from the Games organisers with "advice" about amenities in the rooms.
"Based on this, during the period of the games, we will remove materials from the rooms and hold them safely at the hotel," it added.
APA was not immediately available for further comment.
China's tourism authorities have urged tour operators to sever ties with the hotel chain after an escalating row over the denial, and there have been boycott calls on social media against both the hotel and travel to Japan.
Motoya told Reuters in an email last month that Chinese made up only 5 percent of guests at his hotels in Japan and he was not worried about the impact of any potential boycott.
(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Michael Perry)