Nanjing woman detained for commemorating Japanese war criminals

Wu Aping, a 31-year-old woman who commemorated five Japanese war criminals with Buddhist tablets at a temple in Nanjing, was arrested by police for disturbing public order.

The Nanjing Massacre, when Japanese invaders massacred hundreds of thousands of civilians in six weeks starting in December 1937, is one of the greatest atrocities of the 20th century. It remains a deeply moving memory in China.

A visitor to the temple posted photos of the tablets in July, sparking national outrage, which led to a police investigation.

Wu told police that after arriving in Nanjing from Fujian Province, they learned about what the Japanese invaders had done to China and the crimes committed by the five Japanese war criminals.

She has long been haunted by their nightmares.

But when she became a Buddhist, she thought commemorating the killers would end her nightmares. So she presented them with Buddhist tablets at Xuanzang Temple.

She also laid a tablet for Wilhelmina “Minnie” Vautrin, an American missionary famous for caring for and protecting up to 10,000 Chinese refugees during the massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanjing.

Wu said that when she learned of Vautrin’s kindness and later suicide after returning to the United States, she wanted to release this noble woman’s spirit.

An investigation showed Wu had seen a doctor three times since March 2017 for insomnia and anxiety and had taken sedatives and sleeping pills.

In a video posted on Monday, Wu said she wanted to apologize to everyone who was hurt by what she did and accepted her punishment.

On Sunday night, the investigation team organized by the Nanjing government reported that Wu, who is from Jinjiang of Fujian, moved to Nanjing in 2000 with her parents and worked as a nurse in a local hospital.

In September 2019, she resigned to become a laywoman at a temple in Mount Wutai.

On December 18, 2017, she went to Xuanzang Temple and asked to put tablets with the names of Japanese war criminals and Vautrin. When the monk asked her who these people were, she said they were her friends.

She paid 3,000 yuan ($444) to keep the tablets at the temple from 2018 to 2022.

On February 22 this year, a visitor noticed the tablets and took a photo of them while joining monks and other visitors in helping a woman find the tablet she had installed. Then the tablets were removed from the sanctuary.

But on July 21, the visitor posted the photos on social media and it sparked outrage.

The investigation team said Wu’s actions seriously violated the principle of Buddhism.