TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A historic Japanese Shinto shrine in Taipei has been vandalized and one of its Komainu (lion-dog, 狛犬) statues was stolen on Monday, in an apparent repeat of a recent pattern of destructive acts against Japanese statues and shrines dating from the Japanese colonial era.
Department of Cultural Affairs on Monday received a call reporting that the Yuanshan Water Shrine, originally built in 1938, had been vandalized. When officials arrived on the scene, they found that four of the columns had Chinese characters in white paint scrawled on them, the male Komainu statue on the right side of the temple had been stolen, while the female on the left had been knocked off its pedestal, and a note was left slandering Japanese and Taiwanese friendly to Japan.
The deputy head of Taipei's Department of Cultural Affairs, Tian Wei (田瑋) and Ministry of Culture official Chang Kun-Chen (張崑振) went to the scene to survey the damage
"Historic sites, regardless of the dynasty, do not have good or bad value, they all assets that belong to all people. Please everyone show respect and do not show such an expression of hatred," said Tian. He then announced that he has asked the Taipei Water Department to prepare a plan to repair the shrine within a month's time.
Tian said that the perpetrators of the vandalism had violated the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act, and that the penalty for vandalizing a historic site in Taiwan is a prison term of up to five years or a fine of up to NT$20 million (US$660,000) or both.
Tian said that this endless stream of destruction of historic sites demonstrates that protection of the country's monuments needs to be strengthened.
Note found at the scene with anti-Japanese slogans typed in Chinese characters. (CNA image)
In May of this year, a century old Japanese stone lion-dog statue, erected in front of Yixian Elementary School (逸仙國小) in Beitou District of Taipei City, was vandalized by former Taipei City Councilor Lee Cheng-lung (李承龍) and his female accomplice Chiu Chin-wei (邱晉芛) with a hammer, and livestreamed the damage on Facebook. The couple also beheaded the statue of highly respected Japanese engineer Yoichi Hatta (八田與一), who is hailed in Taiwan as the "father of Wushanto Water Reserve," (烏山頭水庫) in April. Also in April, a group calling itself the “Taiwan Nation Engineering Team” (台灣國工程隊) claimed responsibility for the beheading of a statue of late President Chiang Kai-shek near a famous flower clock at Taipei City’s Yangmingshan (陽明山) National Park.
Male Komainu which is missing. (Pixnet users Joy and Tom)
Female Komainu before it was toppled. (Pixnet users Joy and Tom)