Motoya Toshio
APA Group CEO Motoya Toshio said he is not concerned about losing business from China REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A hotel in Japan has decided to remove controversial books from its property after facing severe criticism from China. The Tokyo-based hotel and real estate developer APA Group came under fire for housing books written by its president denying the Nanjing Massacre, which took place in 1937 in China.

The move by the hotel follows an announcement by 2017 Sapporo Asian Winter Games organisers that Chinese athletes being accommodated there would be relocated to a different property. An official for the games, which take place from 19 February to 26 February, said that when the APA hotel in Sapporo was chosen to host athletes last year, it had verbally agreed to remove the controversial books.

"Our goal is to make an environment where all the athletes can perform at their best," added the official.

APA released a statement on 31 January in which it explains that the sports event organisers recommended they make changes to 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.

Using the pen name Seiji Fuji, the hotel group's president Toshio Motoya wrote a revised view on the gruesome Nanjing Massacre in which Japanese soldiers were responsible for murdering and raping Chinese civilians and disarmed combatants after they captured the then-capital of China.

An estimated 40,000 to over 300,000 people were killed in the six-week period.

In his book, Motoya states 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."

Copies of his book are placed in every room of the company's 400-plus APA Hotels.

China's tourism authorities urged tour operators to boycott the hotel chain but Motoya told Reuters in an email last month that only 5% of his hotel's guests were Chinese and "he was not worried about the impact of any potential boycott".