On Tuesday, according to media reports, two people wearing Japanese World War II military uniforms took photos in a scenic spot in Nanjing, East China’s Jiangsu province, which was here the Rape of Nanjing took place over six weeks from December 1937 to January 1938.
On Friday, the local police of Nanjing responded that the two persons had been found, and were being detained for 15 days for “seeking trouble”.
On domestic social media networks, people were divided between those who consider the punishment is too light to act as a deterrent to others, and those who questioned whether “seeking trouble” is the proper legal charge for their actions.
Both comments are rational. Just imagine people wearing German uniforms from WWII in Israel – they would face trial and possibly imprisonment. By wearing military uniforms of the Imperial Japanese Army in Nanjing, where the notorious massacre happened, the two cosplayers committed a grave mistake and 15 days detainment is a rather light punishment for their misdeed.
On the other hand, “seeking trouble” generally refers to those harassing others or causing intentional injury. Clause 26 of Law on Public Security Administrative Penalties, which the local police cited, lists three prohibited deeds, including “chasing others”, “group fighting”, and “damaging properties”. None of those are relevant in this instance.
The only explanation possible is the deed should be classified as “other deeds of seeking trouble”, that explanation stands, but is rather weak.
We do not mean to defend the two cosplayers. However, in a country with the rule of law, if a deed illegal it should be punished appropriately. Only in this way will others refrain from copying those setting a bad example.
In this case, it is advisable to learn from the example of Germany, where the criminal law has made it clear that it is a crime to defend the Holocaust, and those found guilty of doing so face imprisonment or a fine. In the European Union as a whole, it is illegal to defend the Holocaust.
Chinese legislators should follow Germany’s example, so that the folly of wearing uniforms of the Imperial Japanese Army in China will not be repeated.
The author is a writer with China Daily.