Canadian teen accused of vandalizing 1,200-year-old temple in Japan

Canadian teen accused of vandalizing 1,200-year-old temple in Japan
New York Post
Michelle De Pacina
July 11, 2023
A Canadian teen is accused of defacing a 1,200-year-old Buddhist temple listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Japan. 
What happened: On July 7, a Japanese tourist reportedly spotted a 17-year-old boy carving his name, “Julian,” on a wooden pillar at the Toshodaiji Kondo temple in Japan’s ancient capital Nara. The tourist told the teen to stop before alerting temple staff. The staff notified nearby police, who then brought the boy in for questioning the next day.
“On the southwest side of Toshodaiji Kondo, there are wooden pillars supporting the roof,” a police official told CNN. “On the pillars to the side, the boy carved ‘Julian’ on a wooden pillar about 170 centimeters above the ground with his nail.”
Investigation: Although Julian will not be detained, police are still investigating the incident. If he is found guilty of violating the Law for Protection of Cultural Properties, he will reportedly be referred to prosecutors. 
“The boy admitted his act and says it was done not with the intent of harming Japanese culture,” the official was quoted saying. “He is now with his parents, who were with him when the incident occurred.” 
Under Japanese law, an individual who has damaged an “important cultural property” may face up to five years in prison or a fine of 300,000 Japanese yen (approximately $2,137).
About the temple: The Toshodaiji Kondo temple was founded by Chinese monk Jianzhen and built in the 8th-century. It is one of eight sites that make up the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara, which was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.
The defaced pillar is reportedly part of the temple’s “Golden Hall,” which was designated as a national treasure in 1951.
“I’m worried that something like this might happen again,” a monk at the temple told Sankei News. “It’s unfortunate and sad, even if it’s not malicious.”
This vandalism comes after another similar incident in Italy, where a UK tourist, identified as Ivan Dimitrov, carved his and his fiancée’s names into a 2,000-year-old Colosseum in Rome. The 27-year-old tourist faces five years in jail and fines of up to $16,000.
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