China's Shaolin Temple has demanded a public apology from an Internet user who claimed a Japanese ninja beat its kung fu-practicing monks in a showdown, a lawyer said Friday.
An open letter from the temple posted on the Internet on Thursday denied the fight ever took place and called on the person who posted the claim under the name "Five minutes every day" to apologize to the temple's martial arts masters.
Monks from the temple, nestled in the Songshan Mountains of central China's Henan province, said they will consider legal action if he or she doesn't make a public apology.
Lawyer Huang Kun of Henan's Huizhi Law Firm confirmed in a telephone interview Friday that he had posted the letter on behalf of the temple.
The spat comes amid lingering tensions between China and Japan over wartime atrocities. Chinese remain highly sensitive to anything that smacks of Japanese militarism, particularly because many believe Tokyo has yet to show adequate remorse for its World War II-era actions in China.
The posting last week on the "Iron Blood Bulletin Board Community" described a ninja who challenged the monks of the Shaolin Temple to a fight in August after practicing boxing at a Japanese mountain retreat for five years. The Internet user claimed the monks accepted the challenge and the ninja won, proving the monks are trained to perform rather than fight.
The Shaolin Temple's letter said the posting was "evil" and "a pure fabrication." It said the account of the ninja's victory had been widely commented on and distributed, especially in Japan.
"This extremely irresponsible behavior not only impacts the Shaolin temple and its monks, but also the whole martial arts community and the Chinese people," it said.