Hands to carry on the memory - The present state of the Aichi Prefecture War Veterans Cenotaph
Hello, I'm Bumblebee, a housewife writer! For once, I am serious, and this time I am a housewife writer, Bumblebee.
This time, I would like to report on the current situation in Aichi Prefecture, where I was born and raised.
１．Cenotaph for the war dead in Aichi Prefecture ２．Peace Jizoson, an inherited memory ３．Where will the future lead, the Peace Kannon statue ４．Gaze toward the future, the Nakanoin Military statue ５．Hands to carry on the memories
- Cenotaph for the 3rd Division at Aichi Gokoku Shrine
- Cenotaph for the Battleship Yamato. The white one is an actual bullet from the Yamato's main gun.
１．Cenotaphs for the war dead in Aichi Prefecture
The number of war dead from Aichi Prefecture in the Pacific War was approximately 100,000.
It is said that 13,000 people died in air raids.
"Nagoya was an industrial city, with many factories such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagoya Engine, Nagoya Aircraft, Aichi Aircraft, Aichi Watch Electric, Army Arsenal, Sumitomo Metal Industries, Daido Steel, Kobe Steel, Nippon Sharyo, Nagoya Shipbuilding, Okamoto Kogyo, Okuma Iron Works, and others.
Nagoya was also a Mecca for the aircraft industry, and in particular, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagoya Engine, the largest base for aircraft production, along with the Musashino Plant of Nakajima Aircraft Company in Tokyo, were the primary targets of U.S. air raids on the Japanese mainland and were repeatedly targeted and bombed."
(From the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications website, War Damage in Nagoya, Japan)
Therefore, there are many cenotaphs for the war dead, with more than 200 in Nagoya City alone (including the Loyalists' Monument of the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese Wars). (Including the monument for the loyal war dead of the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars).
However, with the aging of the population, the number of members of the Aichi Prefecture Bereaved Families Association was 14,996 in 2022.
This is almost half of the 29,192 members in 2013, 10 years ago.
As in other areas of Japan, the problem of managing the aging cenotaphs for the war dead is also becoming more pronounced.
The national government has also secured 54 million yen in the FY2023 budget proposal as part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications' project to promote the management of privately erected cenotaphs.
(1) Those for which the erector or administrator is unknown.
(2) Those that are in danger of collapsing and may pose a danger to residents.
The program provides for one-half of the cost of relocating or removing cenotaphs that meet these conditions. (Up to 500,000 yen)
In the case of Aichi Prefecture, two of the six cenotaphs removed by Komaki City were eligible for the program, and the city paid approximately 3.4 million yen in removal costs.
This figure alone shows that the hurdle to become eligible for the program is high, and the burden on the local government is significant.
In this interview, we visited a location that actually highlights the problem of cenotaph management.
２．inherited memory, Peace Jizoson
First, I visited Atsuta Ward in Nagoya City.
During the war, the headquarters of the 3rd Division was located in this area, and there were many munitions factories, which were bombed 63 times.
It is said that more than 14,500 tons of bombs were used in the raids.
The urban area where the factories were located, as well as Nagoya Castle, a former national treasure, and Senganji Temple, the birthplace of Minamoto no Yoritomo, were destroyed by fire, leaving Nagoya as a literal burnt-out wilderness.
The factories of Aichi Clock Electric and Aichi Aircraft, which designed and manufactured bombers, were located in Atsuta Ward, and about 2,000 mobilized students and neighborhood residents were killed in the Atsuta air raid that targeted these factories.
Originally a group of woodworkers and metal fittings craftsmen in the Edo period (1603-1868), the companies started as a watch manufacturing company in the Meiji period (1868-1912), but as time went by, they received orders from the military and became involved in the war.
The headquarters of Aichi Clock Company still stands here, and the Peace Jizoson is located in front of the main gate.
It was erected in 1949.
Since then, a memorial service has been held with the bereaved families and neighbors in attendance. There is also a sign that reads.
- Peace Jizoson in front of the main gate of Aichi Clock Electric Co.
- A sign that reminds us of the changing times
The notice states that the memorial service will be held as a company event from this year. The bereaved family members are getting older, and even before the Corona disaster, only a few dozen people attended the ceremony, so I wonder if the scale of the ceremony will be gradually reduced.
There is also another Jizoson (Peace Jizo) here.
On the back of the Jizoson, it is inscribed that it prays for the repose of the souls of the victims of air raids and prays for peace.
It was built in 1958. The founders of the temple are the Hirokoji Tokufukai and general volunteers. Like the Peace Jizoson in front of the main gate, it is listed on the website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications as a memorial facility for the general war dead, but the contact information is unknown, and no further information could be obtained from other sources.
We contacted Aichi Watch Denki, and they responded that they are not aware of the current administrator of this Jizoson, but that flowers are offered on the day of the memorial service.
Looking at the thousand folded paper cranes and flowers offered to the Jizoson, it seems that neighbors and bereaved family members are still cleaning the area, but what will happen when restoration or relocation is necessary?
We pray that the two Peace Jizoson will continue to keep their memory alive along with the companies that have taken root in this area.
３．where to go, Peace Kannon statue
There are some examples of cenotaphs that do not have a presence to take over and cannot even take advantage of the government's management project system.
One such example is the Peace Kannon statue in Minamichita Town, Aichi Prefecture.
It is located on the grounds of Senzoin Temple, the 45th of the Chita Shikoku Sacred Sites.
The temple is located on top of a narrow stone staircase that extends to the side of the temple's service gate.
I visited Senzoin first and asked the temple staff about the Peace Kannon statue,
I asked the temple staff about the Peace Kannon statue and they replied, "I don't know if you can visit it. There are no visitors anymore, and the grass is growing too thick.
But I went to the temple to at least get a glimpse of the statue.
- Stairs that are scary to climb without a handrail
- Tsuwabuki leaves grow thick on the stone steps as well.
Heiwa Kannon was erected by the Uchiumi Bereaved Families Association of Minamichita Town on the rented premises of Senzoin Temple.
The association was dissolved in March 2022 due to the aging of the bereaved families.
According to the minutes of the June 15, 2022 town council meeting, in response to a question about the management of the remaining cenotaphs, the following was written in the minutes: "The Minamichita Bereaved Family Association was dissolved in March 2022,
The minutes of the June 15, 2022, meeting of the town council show that in response to a question about the management of the remaining cenotaph, the director of the Health and Welfare Department answered, "We think it is necessary to discuss and decide on the management of the cenotaph with each organization concerned, including the Minamichita Bereaved Families Association. The report also states that the prefectural government responded that since there was no immediate danger of the monument collapsing, it would be difficult to use the government's management project system.
According to Minamichita's official figures, the population as of the end of April 2023 was 16,150. (including foreigners).
According to JMAP, a regional medical information system of the Japan Medical Association, the aging rate is 38.8%, much higher than the national average.
It is one of the local governments suffering from depopulation and aging, and seems to be a microcosm of Japan.
The stairs to the Peace Kannon statue are narrow, and although there is a handrail, it may be difficult for the elderly to reach the statue.
At the end of the stone steps, there is a small plaza, and the Peace Kannon statue stands in the shade of a tree at the far end.
The plaza was in disrepair, but there were piles of branches that had been cut down, probably by volunteers.
There is no inscription on the statue of Kannon and no detailed circumstances regarding its erection are known.
Upon closer inspection, the pedestal is cracked and will eventually collapse if it continues on its present course.
The sea that the statue of Kannon was originally supposed to gaze upon is now only slightly visible through the gaps in the growing grove of trees.
Will the statue of the Kannon, created in memory of the lives lost in the war, be abandoned in less than 100 years?
I am very concerned about the future.
４．a gaze toward the future, a military image of Nakanoin
We also visited Nakanoin Temple in the same Minamichita Town, which also has a statue of a consoled soldier.
Nakanoin is located near Iwaya Temple, which became independent from the Tendai sect as Owari Koyasan.
There are many military statues standing in a row there.
The ones in the foreground are without pedestals, while the statues in the back all stand on pedestals.
What is the difference?
According to the sign, most of these statues are boy soldiers of the Nagoya 3rd Division who were sent to the Shanghai landings in 1937.
The sign says, "After marching 13 kilometers on foot at night from the barracks in Nagoya Castle, they landed near the mouth of the Yangtze River on cruisers and destroyers anchored off Noma in only 26 hours, and were almost completely annihilated in less than half a month.
The number of the ships was 68.
The number of the ships was as many as 68.
These military statues were built between 1937 and 1943 by the bereaved families based on photographs of the deceased.
They were erected using a one-time donation for their deaths in battle.
Their names and their short lives are inscribed on each of the pedestals.
The following is a quote of what I managed to read in the original text. (○ indicates illegible characters due to weathering)
Graduated from Nagoya Junior High School in 1930
March 1934 Graduated from Doshisha University School of Commerce.
December of the same year, enlisted in the 6th Infantry Regiment and was dispatched to Manchuria.
Participated in the defeat of bandits and was awarded the 8th degree of the Order of the Soldier of Manchuria.
May 1936 Triumphant discharge from the army August 1937 Departed for military service
Died in battle near the railroad warehouse of Shanghai Kureuso on September 7, 1947, at the age of 25
This person is a corporal in the army infantry. The military statues with pedestals may be those of junior officers.
If so, the statues without pedestals on the left are probably those of boy soldiers.
The last year was 1937 for all of them.
These 68 soldiers lost their lives in the reckless landing operations in front of the enemy.
The plaque also talks about what happened after it was erected.
When the Occupation Forces ordered the demolition of these military statues after the war. A priest said,
'Dying for one's country is no different in Japan or America. The Japanese cannot destroy them. If you insist on destroying it, you should shoot us and then go there and destroy it.
Thanks to his strong resistance, the temple was spared destruction.
The military statue was moved here from the military cemetery at Nittaiji in Chikusa-ku, Nagoya.
The courageous monk who refused the order of the Occupation Forces may have been the one from Nittaiji.
These military statues are standing here now because people mourned them who died in the war at a young age.
What are they staring at silently? It may be the future of this country.
５．Summary: Hands to carry on the memory
On a personal note, my grandfather was killed in action at the age of 33.
His remains were never returned, and my grandmother struggled to raise my father with her own hands.
My husband's grandfather survived the war after receiving a bullet wound to the head.
However, time has passed, my grandmother and father are already dead, and my husband's grandfather is also deceased.
Memories of people and the memorials that give form to those memories will eventually be lost if there is no one to carry them on.
We need the hand of the next generation to be extended to us.
At the Nagoya City Council meeting on March 7, 2023, the mayor of Nagoya City proposed that May 14, the day Nagoya Castle was set ablaze in an air raid, be established as "Memorial Day".
This move was made in response to a petition submitted mainly by the student council of Toho High School in Nagoya's Meito Ward.
The predecessor of Toho High School was Toho Commercial School.
During the war, students were mobilized to work at the Daiko Plant of Mitsubishi Nagoya Engine Manufacturing, where 22 students and teachers were killed in an air raid.
Every year, the school holds a ceremony as "Toho Gakuen Memorial Day" to welcome the classmates of the 19 graduates who were sacrificed, and this is an initiative that was born from this.
I hope that hands will be raised one after another to carry on the memory in this way.
I myself will think about what I can do.
How was it?
As we can see from the current situation in Ukraine, war is still very close at hand.
We must continue to think about peace, not as a thing of the past, but as something that will continue into the future.
Cenotaphs for the war dead erected in various places are watching over the future of this country.