What's new

Welcome to Japan Reference (JREF) - the community for all Things Japanese.

Join Today! It is fast, simple, and FREE!

News Chinese tourists to boycott APA hotels over Nanjing book

Joined
4 Apr 2014
Messages
646
Reaction score
167
In my opinion it is always a tough decision for entrepreneurs to publicly express their views on sensitive issues. I guess a tycoon who's bold enough to express their views on sensitive issues, however outrageous they may be, despite possible consequences such as boycotts of goods and services by offended population groups, deserves some respect. That is from freedom of speech and freedom of thought point of view.

In Russia it happens every week: some population group gets offended by some well known entrepreneur's views on some subject then an outcry and boycott follow. Only in Russia it gets worse, to the point when a group files a class action lawsuits for "violation of {a group's name} feelings". Orthodox church, WWII veterans (not veterans themselves but some beneficiary organizations perpetrated in the name of the veterans), women, muslims, ethnic groups. I even doubt there is a legal term "violation of feelings" in other countries legal code.
The result is lamentable: if your views deviate from those prevailing in general public - keep them to yourself, or face legal consequences. Actually, even if they agree with the views of the majority - still better be silent, there's always some "All-Russian Association of Tobacco Smokers" lurking around, waiting to sue anyone who's bold enough to blame lung cancer on smoking. Not because tobacco smokers feelings were violated, but simply to reap the indemnities.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Admin
  • #3

thomas

Unswerving cyclist
Admin
Joined
14 Mar 2002
Messages
10,714
Reaction score
2,057
Defending the freedom of speech is an admirable cause, and I can only applaud Japanese historians who earnestly attempt to get to the bottom of the historical events surrounding Nanjing without merely haggling about the numbers of casualties. Mr Motoya however is not a torchbearer for the freedom of speech; he calls the massacres completely "fabricated" and "fictious". I have difficulties accepting the denial of atrocities as freedom of expression and thought.

Just imagine a European entrepreneur denying the holocaust and forcing his ideas onto his customers. Unthinkable.
 

WonkoTheSane

先輩
Joined
12 May 2013
Messages
1,335
Reaction score
304
Defending the freedom of speech is an admirable cause, and I can only applaud Japanese historians who earnestly attempt to get to the bottom of the historical events surrounding Nanjing without merely haggling about the numbers of casualties. Mr Motoya however is not a torchbearer for the freedom of speech; he calls the massacres completely "fabricated" and "fictious". I have difficulties accepting the denial of atrocities as freedom of expression and thought.

Just imagine a European entrepreneur denying the holocaust and forcing his ideas onto his customers. Unthinkable.
As a Jew, and a believer in freedom, I would support their right to make such a denial.

I would also not use their services in protest of their view.

While denying these specific cases (Nanjing, Nazi Germany) stand out as obviously fallacious, there have been many times in human history that things considered similarly certain were actually falsehoods.

Galileo Galilei's advocation for heliocentrism led to the Catholic church forcing him to recant his words and placing him in prison (changed immediately to house arrest, which continued until his death). Now, it is obvious to most people that his views were appropriate, but at the time they were considered atrocious and he was threatened with torture if he did not recant.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela, and many others have been imprisoned, tortured, and otherwise silenced for expressing views out of line with contemporaneous thinking. Take John Willard, for example, following his refusal to arrest people accused of witchery in the Salem witch trials he was himself accused and then executed by hanging.

My question would be, how exactly would you support stopping Mr Motoya's speech if you feel it should not be covered under the rules of freedom of expression?

Because that's what it comes down to. Either you allow people to talk or you advocate violence to stop them. Some people will speak their minds and refuse to recant their views up to, and including, their walk to the gallows. Do you hang them for their speech?

This is not an academic question. It has been horrifically answered through regimes such as Stalinist Russia and Castro's Cuba (not to pick on only two, it would be easy to list dozens or even hundreds of examples), and the historical suppression of thought expression virtually worldwide is what led James Madison to not only lead the authorship of the speech and press clauses of the 1st amendment to the US constitution but also to argue against narrowing it to the definition of English common law.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Admin
  • #6

thomas

Unswerving cyclist
Admin
Joined
14 Mar 2002
Messages
10,714
Reaction score
2,057
My question would be, how exactly would you support stopping Mr Motoya's speech if you feel it should not be covered under the rules of freedom of expression?

Simply by outlawing it in the fashion of Austria's Verbotsgesetz, a prohibition act against nazism passed as a constitutional law. As @lanthas mentioned several European jurisdictions have passed laws against fascist activism. The underlying idea is that criminal acts that grossly violate the laws of humanity justify the limitation of freedom. Countless nations have enacted hate speech laws, even Japan adopted a Hate Speech Act in 2016 (though it's toothless, as it doesn't ban it and sets no sanctions). Yes, limiting the freedom of expression based on religious dogma or ideological and political power play is simply wrong, curtailing it in extreme cases of violations of universal principles of humanity sometimes seems to be the lesser evil.

Here's an interesting read on the APA issue and nationalism in Japan:

Japanese hotel row highlights latent nationalism
A revisionist history book left out in guest rooms at APA hotels a sign of strong sentiment

Japan’s largest hotel chain, an explosively revisionist history book left out for guests, a Chinese boycott and a brazenly defiant chief executive with a passion for lurid hats. One of the more dependable features of Japan, remarked a senior Tokyo-based diplomat last week, is never knowing for sure where the next nationalism-fuelled row will erupt, but being quite certain that one will somewhere.

The puzzle, say political scientists, is whether these are merely symptoms of an instinctive nationalism that has never been far from Japan’s surface but is unlikely to spiral much beyond that level, or of an active swing to the right brought about by the rise of China and the popularity of Japan’s rightwing prime minister, Shinzo Abe.

In common with others over the years — including prime ministerial visits to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine — the furore surrounding the APA hotel chain has escalated quickly and toxically. Last week, the company was forced to explain why it was furnishing its rooms with a book, penned under a pseudonym by the founder, that argues the 1937 massacre of Chinese soldiers and civilians was “a fabrication”.

In a statement the hotel acknowledged “that historic interpretation and education vary among nations”, but said it had no intention of withdrawing the book. By Friday, with the Chinese foreign ministry publicly condemning Japan for “trying to deny and distort history” and Chinese travel websites apparently blocking bookings in APA hotels, the stakes had soared.

Organisers of the Asian Winter Games, which begin next month, asked the hotel to remove the books from any hotels where visiting athletes are due to stay. “The thought has not crossed our minds,” said the hotel.

The founders of APA, which manages around 370 highly recognisable, low-cost hotels around Japan, have never hidden their nationalism. Both Toshio Motoya and his celebrity wife, Fumiko, are passionate funders of rightwing activities. But they do so in the context of a country where nationalist sentiment burns fiercely but not quite hotly enough to ignite the concern of ordinary Japanese.

Those searching for day-to-day evidence of the nationalist flame do not have to look far — from the massive, but almost totally ignored, white trucks (paid for by a well-known manufacturer of rice crackers) that circle Tokyo’s main financial district emblazoned with nationalist slogans (Save us, Emperor!) to the avowedly nationalist religious group Nippon Kaigi, to which many ruling party politicians quietly belong.

This nationalism can veer into outright racism. Last year Shintaro Ishihara, the virulently rightwing former governor of Tokyo, whose 2012 attempts to purchase the disputed Senkaku (Diaoyu in Chinese) islands sparked anti-Japanese riots across China, explained why he wished for the downfall of Beijing. “The reason I want China to collapse,” he said, “is because I hate it.”
 

WonkoTheSane

先輩
Joined
12 May 2013
Messages
1,335
Reaction score
304
Simply by outlawing it in the fashion of Austria's Verbotsgesetz, a prohibition act against nazism passed as a constitutional law. As @lanthas mentioned several European jurisdictions have passed laws against fascist activism. The underlying idea is that criminal acts that grossly violate the laws of humanity justify the limitation of freedom. Countless nations have enacted hate speech laws, even Japan adopted a Hate Speech Act in 2016 (though it's toothless, as it doesn't ban hate speech and sets no sanctions). Yes, limiting the freedom of expression based religious dogma or ideological and political power play is simply wrong, curtailing it in extreme cases of violations of universal principles of humanity sometimes seems to be the lesser evil.

Here's an interesting read on the APA issue and nationalism in Japan:

Japanese hotel row highlights latent nationalism
A revisionist history book left out in guest rooms at APA hotels a sign of strong sentiment
There are several reasons I disagree with the various hate speech laws.

I am a supporter of freedom of speech. Speech is not action. I am overjoyed that we have international laws in place limiting things like the physical expression of National Socialism, and I would encourage us all to put more teeth into the laws that help fight the awful things that are done to our brothers and sisters in other countries in the name of religion, nationalism, or any other justification used for torture or otherwise perform cruelties.

But speech is not an action.

Hate speech can be defined in many ways, for example the LGBTQ community expressing themselves can be regarded as hate speech by many societies and religions that do not respect the rights of these people. So is it alright to jail them for hate speech if the prevailing attitude of the particular society is that their speech is hateful towards the dominant society or religion?

In certain religions women are not allowed to speak to males unless certain requirements are met. Should it be acceptable for societies based on these religions to define dissent against these laws as hate speech since they are denying a core tenet of the beliefs of the dominant religion and society?

If a government is given the power to jail people for their speech, who's to say the next party that comes into power won't jail you for your speech. History is replete with innocuous seeming laws in the right hands being used for nefarious purposes in the wrong hands. The freedoms enjoyed by virtually every group in this world who are free came directly from the expression of advocates for those freedoms. They spoke and wrote things that could have been deemed hate speech, and in fact in many cases were attempted to be silenced at the time, but through laws and customs supporting their right to speak of their beliefs they were able to sway the world.

Finally, I fully believe that hate is a festering wound and that sunlight is the best disinfectant. The more people who try to deny the Holocaust, the more opportunities I get to post videos, pictures, and statements for the world to see. This debate we're having right now opened my eyes to the massacre, about which I knew very little until you posted this news story. This person's ability to express their extremism opened that dialog. Freedom of speech is also the freedom to learn about things one disagrees with, and the opportunity to then speak in dissent. A conversation always has at least two participants, if we bar one from speaking then the other will have nothing to say.

While I disagree with you, I fully support your right to express your opinion! ;)
 

Lothor

Proofreader extraordinaire
Moderator
Donor
Joined
26 Sep 2015
Messages
1,152
Reaction score
624
Which well-known manufacturer of rice crackers is the article referring to?
 

caster55

先輩
Joined
28 Feb 2013
Messages
231
Reaction score
13
at first,
Defending the freedom of speech is an admirable cause, and I can only applaud Japanese historians who earnestly attempt to get to the bottom of the historical events surrounding Nanjing without merely haggling about the numbers of casualties. Mr Motoya however is not a torchbearer for the freedom of speech; he calls the massacres completely "fabricated" and "fictious". I have difficulties accepting the denial of atrocities as freedom of expression and thought.

Just imagine a European entrepreneur denying the holocaust and forcing his ideas onto his customers. Unthinkable.

sorry most Japanese think he is right
 

thomas

Unswerving cyclist
Admin
Joined
14 Mar 2002
Messages
10,714
Reaction score
2,057
sorry most Japanese think he is right

Sadly, the Japanese you refer to (and I doubt they are the majority) refuse to face the darker chapters of their nation's past. Do you have any sources to back up your claim that "most Japanese" deny the massacre?

A good start to read up: Nanking Massacre denial - Wikipedia

As other posters have expressed in this thread, I will vote with my wallet too and abstain from frequenting APA hotels.
 

caster55

先輩
Joined
28 Feb 2013
Messages
231
Reaction score
13
 
Last edited:

Lothor

Proofreader extraordinaire
Moderator
Donor
Joined
26 Sep 2015
Messages
1,152
Reaction score
624
Who to believe? Documents vetted and stored by UNESCO or some videos on YouTube who anyone could have made? Tough decision!
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom