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Hi Blog. The BBC and Japan Times report below that the Cuban Ambassador to Japan was denied entry to a US-based hotel chain in Japan, the Hilton, in Fukuoka. The Japanese Government quickly stepped in to say that this activity is illegal under Japanese law.
Well, well, well. I guess it’s helpful to be foreign and connected in high places. As has been reported for decades on Debito.org, Japan’s hotel refusals by nationality are so normalized that hotels routinely ignore the law being cited, refusing “foreigners” entry due to “lack of facilities“, “discomfort on the part of the management or Japanese customers“, or just for being “customers while foreign” (or even the “wrong foreign customers“). Sometimes these refusals have the backing and encouragement of local police agencies and other authorities in their overzealous “anti-terrorism“/”anti-crime“/”anti-infectious disease” campaigns (because after all, only “foreigners” do all that in Japan).
So the Cuban Ambassador gets refused. And now the law gets applied. Good. Now let’s apply it everywhere, for a change. That’s what laws are for. Dr. Debito Arudou
US hotel in Japan refuses Cuba ambassador
BBC/Reuters 14 November 2018, courtesy of JDG
A US-owned hotel in Japan has been criticised by Japanese authorities after it denied the Cuban ambassador a room over fears it would violate US sanctions on Cuba.
The Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk told Ambassador Carlos Pereria he could not stay last month because it could not accommodate Cuban government guests.
That prompted a Cuban complaint.
Japanese officials in the city have since told the hotel it was illegal to refuse rooms based on nationality.
The Cuban embassy booked the room through a travel agency, which informed the hotel of the guests’ identity, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported.
However when Mr Pereira arrived in the south-western city on a trip to visit Cubans playing for the city’s baseball team he was told he could not stay.
In its subsequent complaint, the Cuban argued that applying US law in Japan encroached on Japan’s sovereignty, the Asahi Shimbun said.
But a Hilton representative in the Japanese capital Tokyo told the Kyodo news agency that the firm had to comply with US law because it was based in the US.
In 2006, the Mexican authorities fined a US-owned Sheraton hotel for expelling a 16-person Cuban delegation from a hotel in Mexico City.
In 2007 a Norwegian hotel, the Scandic Edderkoppen, refused to let a delegation of 14 Cuban officials stay as it was part of a chain that had been bought by Hilton since the Cubans last visited.
Then Norwegian deputy foreign minister Raymond Johansen told Reuters that it was “totally unacceptable”.
In 2016, under a thaw in relations between the US and Cuba during the Obama administration, the US hotel firm Starwood signed a deal to manage two hotels in Cuba. The two hotels were owned by Cuban state enterprises, the New York Times reported.
However the following year President Trump tightened US policy towards Cuba, banning US visitors to the island from spending money in state-run hotels or restaurants linked to Cuba’s military.
The Japan Times adds:
According to the Cuban Embassy, the diplomats were visiting Fukuoka to meet Cuban baseball players who are members the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.
Japan’s law regulating hotel operations states that guests cannot be refused unless they carry an infectious disease or are suspected of committing illegal activities. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry pointed out that denying accommodation based on nationality is against the law.
“The hotels operating domestically must comply with the law,” the ministry said.
“We refuse to provide service to officials of the government or state-owned enterprises of countries under U.S. economic sanctions such as North Korea, Iran and Syria,” a Hilton spokesperson said. “We would like to discuss about the matter internally in response to the guidance.”
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