Men walk past an Apa Hotel in Tokyo Wednesday. The fast-growing Japanese hotel chain is facing criticism over a book penned by the hotel’s owner that says the Rape of Nanking was fabricated. Photo: Shizuo Kambayashi / AP.

TOKYO — A fast-growing Japanese hotel chain is facing criticism over a book penned by the hotel’s owner that says the Rape of Nanking was fabricated.

APA Group, a Tokyo-based land developer and operator of 400-plus hotels, drew fire for spreading the revisionist views of company president Toshio Motoya by putting the books in hotel guestrooms and also selling them.

The issue is the latest flap between the Asian neighbors over unhealed wounds from Japan’s aggression before and during World War II. It follows a diplomatic row with South Korea over a statue representing the “comfort women” who were used for sex in military-linked wartime brothels.

China has lodged a complaint, but APA says it stands by its owner’s views.

The issue surfaced this week when contributors KatAndSid posted a video on a social networking site describing the English version of “Theoretical Modern History,” a book Motoya wrote under the penname Seiji Fuji.

The video shows passages from the book calling the 1937 massacre an “imaginary” event concocted by China to blame Japan. The book also denies that Japan’s use of “comfort women” involved forced prostitution.

The massacre of Chinese citizens by the Japanese military in what became known as the Rape of Nanking is one of the biggest flashpoints between the two countries. China says up to 300,000 people were killed, while Japanese nationalists have said far fewer died or denied there even was a massacre.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also expressed skepticism toward accounts of the Rape of Nanjing. The inclusion of Rape of Nanking documents on a UNESCO heritage list in October 2015 prompted Japan to suspend its contribution to the United Nation’s educational unit.

When asked about the book, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Tuesday that “some forces in Japan have been denying history from the outset and even attempting to distort it.” Coercive recruitment of comfort women and the Nanjing massacre were crimes against humanity committed by wartime Japan and “an iron-clad fact recognized by the international community,” she said.

“History can never change over time, and facts will not fade away despite deliberate evasion,” she said.

APA hotel said in a statement that the book is meant to help readers learn “the fact-based true interpretation of modern history” and not aimed at criticizing a specific country or its people.

“We have no intention of withdrawing the book from our guestrooms even if we receive criticisms from those with different viewpoints,” it said. “Japan guarantees freedom of speech, and no one-sided pressure should be allowed to cause a retraction of a statement.”

Story: Mari Yamaguchi