A woman was detained after being accused of honoring Japanese war criminals at a Buddhist temple in the Chinese city of Nanjing.
Wu Aping, 31, drew the public’s ire after news broke out on social media that she enshrined six memorial tablets, five of which were dedicated to four Japanese soldiers who took part in the 1937-38 Nanjing Massacre and were convicted of war crimes, at Xuanzang Temple. The sixth tablet was for American missionary teacher Wilhelmina “Minnie” Vautrin, who protected Chinese refuge-seekers at the time.
Started by the invading Imperial Japanese Army on Dec. 13, 1937, the Nanjing Massacre, also called the Nanking Massacre, spanned six weeks of rampant looting, murder and rape. According to Chinese estimates, the brutal slaughter left over 300,000 Chinese civilians and soldiers dead.
According to local officials in Nanjing, Wu started paying for the inscription and maintenance of the tablets at the Buddhist temple in 2018. She was detained shortly after Weibo users condemned the act online and called for disciplinary action against the officials.
As a result, the temple’s director and deputy director of the ethnic and religious affairs bureau of the related district of Xuanwu, as well as its principal monk, have all been dismissed.
Meanwhile, Wu was detained over “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” a charge that could lead to a five-year prison sentence.
Upon questioning, Wu told the authorities that after visiting Nanjing and learning about the atrocities that occurred during the Japanese invasion, she was traumatized and experienced nightmares about it.
She reportedly claimed to have been so disturbed by the brutality of the Japanese soldiers that she thought worshiping them would help ease her mental suffering. She was also convinced that paying tributes would free the soul of Vautrin, who had killed herself because of war trauma.
Wu, a former nurse who became a lay Buddhist, reportedly said that the people she dedicated the six tablets to are her friends.
She was also discovered by investigators to have been put on hypnotic and sedative drugs after being hospitalized three times for insomnia and anxiety since 2017.
In response to the backlash, Buddhist associations in China started making inspections of their memorial tablets mandatory.
Featured Image via TVBS News