People pay their respects at the Memorial Hall of the Victims in the Nanjing Massacre on Dec. 13, 2007 in Nanjing of Jiangsu Province, China. (Photo : Getty Images)
Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura should kneel and apologize to the Chinese people for his remarks on the Nanjing Massacre in 1937, a government spokesperson said on Tuesday.
The comment came after Kawamura downplayed reports of Japanese hotel chain APA placing in its rooms a book denying the Nanjing Massacre and the forced recruitment of comfort women.
Kawamura said the Japanese should go to Nanjing to kneel down and apologize if Imperial Japanese soldiers really slaughtered 300,000 Nanjing citizens. He also expressed doubts the massacre ever took place.
China is willing to have friendly exchanges with Japan but will not tolerate brazen distortions of history that hurt the Chinese, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told the state-owned Xinhua News Agency during a regular press briefing.
"Whoever acts recklessly will pay the price," Hua said.
"As for the comments by the mayor, I want to remind him that the Nanjing Massacre is a historical fact recognized by the international community. The mayor should deliver on what he said," he added.
Also on Tuesday, China's National Tourism Administration issued a statement urging Chinese tourism agencies and websites to cease promoting APA. The tourism authority also called on Chinese tourists to boycott these hotels.
The book, which was written by APA CEO Toshio Motoya under the pen name Seiji Fuji, drew widespread condemnation in Japan and abroad.
"A hotel would have to shut down if it were found placing Adolf Hitler's 'My Struggle' or books denying the Holocaust in its guest rooms in Germany," Takanori Hayao, associate professor at Tokyo Keizai University, was quoted by the press as saying.
The organizer of Asia's 8th Asian Winter Games (AWG) in Sapporo told Xinhua on Jan. 19 that it has requested APA, which will host athletes in one of their hotels in Sapporo, "to remove the right-wing books placed in the hotel guest rooms."
When asked about the controversy, Japan's chief government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga said that "we need to tackle shared global challenges with a forward-looking view, rather than paying excessive attention to our unfortunate history."
Japan's Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda told the press on Tuesday that China and Japan should work together on common issues facing the international community, rather than focusing too much on the "unhappy past."
More than 600,000 people lived in Nanjing before Japanese troops murdered around 300,000 soldiers and civilians in 1937.