TAIPEI – A historic shrine in Taipei dating back to the Japanese colonial period has been vandalized, local media reported Tuesday.
On Monday, it was discovered that a komainu (lion-dog) statue at the Yuanshan Water Shrine was stolen and that brown columns of the structure were splattered with white paint, according to the reports. A note slandering Japanese and Japan-friendly Taiwanese was also found at the scene.
The shrine’s supervisory agency, the Taipei Water Department, said it has already reported the incident to the police. An investigation is underway to find the motive behind the vandalism.
Reports quoted the deputy head of the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs, Tian Wei, as saying that his department has asked the Taipei Water Department to propose a plan in a month to fix the statue.
Tian said the incident differed from an earlier act of vandalism in the capital in that the shrine, completed in 1938, is a historic site.
Tian told local media that Monday’s incident marks the first case of deliberate vandalism of a historic site in Taipei.
If captured, the vandal faces a prison term of up to five years or a fine of up to $20 million New Taiwan dollars ($660,000) or both, according to the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act.
In the earlier incident in May, a pair of stone komainu statues dating back to the Japanese colonial period were vandalized by pro-China activists.
The statues, located at the entrance to Yixian elementary school in the capital’s Beitou district, are still missing parts of their front legs.
The two vandals, both radical activists who favor Taiwan’s reunification with China, along with two other pro-China activists, were charged with acts of vandalism in June.
The pair were previously questioned — and subsequently released — over the beheading in April of a bronze statue of late Japanese civil engineer Yoichi Hatta at a park in Tainan, southern Taiwan.
One of the suspects, Lee Cheng-lung, denied Tuesday any involvement in Monday’s incident.