Staff at a US-owned hotel in Japan refused services to a Cuban ambassador in October, the Asahi Shimbun reported on November 14.
The Cuban Embassy booked rooms for Cuban ambassador to Japan Carlos Pereira and another official via Tokyo-based Tonichi Travel Service Co., who informed the Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk of the envoy's nationality in advance.
The hotel replied it was looking forward to welcoming the guests, Tonichi Travel Services said.
But things spiralled out of control after Mr. Pereira arrived to check in on October 2, when the hotel refused his reservation. Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk followed with a letter on October 11 stating it "cannot accept guests who represent Cuba in an official capacity."
The hotel later informed Tonichi Travel Service that it could not accept the representatives, the travel agency said.
A representative from the Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk's hotel defended the staff's actions, stating that the hotel franchise must adhere to US law as Cuba was under sanctions from Washington.
But Fukuoka officials slapped the hotel with an administrative directive citing Japanese hotel business laws that prohibit refusing accommodation based on a person's nationality.
Article 5 stipulates that hotel operators cannot deny guests unless they are infected with contagious diseases or threatening to engage in illegal or dangerous activities.
The Cuban Embassy responded by filing a complaint on 5 October, calling the hotel's behaviour "shameful" and adding that applying US law encroaches on Japan's sovereignty.