S Korean sports committee asks Japan to take measures on history-distorting books in hotels

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-01-26 08:52

SEOUL - South Korea's sports committee has asked its Japanese counterpart to take measures on books placed in guestrooms of a right-wing Japanese hotel chain that denies Japan's wartime crimes.

An official with the Korean Olympic Committee said on Wednesday that the committee had received a phone response last week from the organizing committee of the 2017 Asian Winter Games to make efforts to resolve the issue.

Despite phone communications, the issue had yet to be resolved, and the South Korean committee has sent a formal letter to the Japanese Olympic Committee and the organizing committee, the official said.

The letter expressed worry about the books, demanding proper measures to be taken.

Asked about whether to take further actions, the official said the South Korean committee will review whether to do more after receiving the Japanese counterpart's reply.

Among the South Korean sports delegation of about 230 athletes and officials, around 170 have been previously arranged to live in a hotel of APA Group, Japan's operator of 400-plus hotels, in northern Sapporo, the official said.

The Asian sporting event is scheduled to be held in Japan from Feb 19 to 26. Some 2,000 athletes, including those from China and South Korea, will be accommodated by APA hotels in Sapporo.

APA Group touched off anger both in South Korea and China for books by putting in hotel rooms the copies of books which deny the 1937 Nanjing massacre and depict the "comfort women" as common "prostitutes" during World War II.

The books, titled "The Real History of Japan: Theoretical Modern History" and "The Real History of Japan: Theoretical Modern History II" were authored by Seiji Fuji, the pen name of President of APA Group Toshio Motoya.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing on Tuesday that China will never tolerate brazen distortions of history that hurt the Chinese.

China National Tourism Administration on Tuesday asked all outbound travel agencies and websites to stop cooperating with APA Group.

South Korea's culture and sports ministry took a cautious position following a diplomatic friction with Japan over the issue on "comfort women," a euphemism for Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery before and during the Pacific War.

An official at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism told Xinhua that the ministry has nothing to say about the APA hotel issue as the matter is something to be resolved in the civilian level.

On Jan 9, Japan recalled its ambassador to South Korea in Seoul and its consul general in the country's southern port city of Busan, while stopping negotiations on the bilateral currency swap deal.

It was retaliatory actions against the so-called "statue of a girl" which was set up outside the Japanese consulate in Busan in December last year to symbolize teenager comfort women victims.

It was the second near the Japanese diplomatic mission sine the first bronze, life-size statue of a seated girl which is dressed in traditional Korean costume was put up in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul in December 2011.

The Busan statue was installed by South Korean civilians to protest against the Park Geun-hye government's "final and irreversible" agreement with

Japan on the comfort women issue that was reached on Dec 28, 2015.

It caused a barrage of criticism for the absence of Japan's acknowledgement of legal responsibility and its sincere apology for the wartime crime against humanity.

Yonhap news agency speculated that South Korea may be worrying about escalating friction with Japan following the comfort women issue, but it said Seoul would inevitably protest against the books as the APA Group refused to remove them from guestrooms.

The news agency reported that South Korean athletes would highly likely express their displeasure with the books that deny the forcible recruitment of teenage Korean girls as sex slaves during the devastating war.

Local newspaper Donga Ilbo cited an official with the South Korean embassy in Japan as saying that the embassy has been discussing with relevant agencies about what measures can be taken.


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