A controversial stone monument dedicated to Japanese settlers who died in China when they tried to return home in the immediate aftermath of the second world war has been demolished, just days after several nationalists tried to destroy it. The authorities in Fangzheng county, Heilongjiang province, confirmed last week they erected a stone monument in the county's Sino-Japanese friendship garden to honour dead Japanese settlers. The authorities said the monument was to encourage the public to learn from history, but internet users accused the administration of overlooking China's painful past just to attract Japanese investment. The critics included five nationalists, who smeared the monument with red paint and tried to knock it down with hammers on Wednesday. The activists were detained for a few hours and returned to Beijing the following day. Local media reported yesterday that the monument was no longer in the garden. An internet user told the Legal Mirror that the monument was still there on Friday night but had mysteriously disappeared by 7am the next day. 'Broken concrete and debris was piled up nearly two metres high. There was a bulldozer next to it, removing rubble and dumping it into a deep hole that was guarded by about 40 people,' the eyewitness said. The paper also reported that the site was under heavy police guard and no visitors were allowed in on Friday. Some taxi drivers were also warned by the authorities not to take visitors to the park, according to the Legal Mirror. Photographs on local news portals also showed residents setting off firecrackers to celebrate the monument's demolition. The county government did not issue an official response to the situation. China Daily's online news portal quoted the Japanese consulate in Shenyang as saying on Friday that officials had visited Fangzheng and the monument in the past but the monument was not their sole purpose of that trip. The consulate had also denied giving funds and information of the deceased Japanese to help build the monument.