Investigators in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, who are probing the case of Japanese war criminals' memorial tablets being enshrined in the Xuanzang Temple, said it was wrong of Wu Aping, a 32-year-old female, to pay for the tablets' upkeep since 2018.
Wu has now been detained and could face criminal charges. The temple's abbot was dismissed and several other religious officials have also received disciplinary penalties.
According to reports, Wu was getting recurring nightmares since learning of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, and to exorcise the demons within she decided to pay for the memorial tablets of the five Japanese war criminals directly responsible for the massacre and of Minnie Vautrin (1886-1941), an American woman who risked her life to save over 10,000 Chinese women during the massacre. She felt this would help "let the hatred go", as per her understanding of Buddhism.
However, Buddhism believes in punishing evil and protecting the good. The five Japanese war criminals whose tablets she had enshrined were: Iwane Matsui and Hisao Tani who were high-level commanders, Tsuyoshi Noda and Toshiaki Mukai who were low-level officials who engaged in what looked like a killing contest, and Gunkichi Tanaka who killed over the 300 people with his sword. All five were executed after a fair trial. A religious person might say they have paid for their sins, but no religion will suggest that people honor them after their execution. Their names will forever be carved in shame.
While Wu might have a flawed understanding of Buddhism, the temple authorities should have known better. And yet they did not stop her. Instead, they charged Wu 3,000 yuan ($444) for the upkeep of six memorial tablets for five years. All they thought was of making money, even if through questionable means.
The action taken against the abbot and other officials should ensure that it does not happen again.