The Cuban ambassador to Japan was denied a room at a Hilton hotel in southwestern Japan last month, the U.S. hotel group said Wednesday, citing Washington's economic sanctions against the Latin American country.
The local government has instructed the hotel in Fukuoka to correct the practice as Japanese law prohibits hotels from rejecting guests based on nationality.
Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk told Kyodo News that it refused the ambassador's stay to comply with U.S. laws as an American company.
The Tokyo travel agency that made the reservation for Oct 2 for Ambassador Carlos Pereira and embassy officials said it received a phone call from the hotel the same day saying the group could not stay there.
The agency later received a document that said the hotel "cannot accommodate guests representing the Cuban government."
The ambassador was visiting Fukuoka to meet with Cuban players belonging to the professional baseball club SoftBank Hawks, the Cuban Embassy said.
The Japanese law on hotel business stipulates that hotels should not reject guests except for cases involving infectious diseases or illegal activities. The health ministry said a rejection based on nationality breaches the law and hotels in Japan should abide by the law.
A public relations official of the Hilton hotel said, "We are declining stays by government officials and those related to state-run companies from countries subjected to U.S. economic sanctions such as North Korea, Iran and Syria."
But the official added that the company will discuss the issue based on instructions from the Japanese government.
The United States has maintained an economic embargo against Cuba since the 1960s following the Cuban Revolution and the nationalization of American-owned properties.