I have once mentioned about this two years ago. The “Exhibition to Tell about Peace to Children” was held again this year at Gifu Media Cosmos. The exhibition theme was “Even shrines and temples engulfed in fire: Shrines, temples, and churches during the Gifu Air Raids” and references regarding the pre-war Gifu Sei Ko Kai building evacuation were also exhibited.
Actually, John Taro Aihara, a candidate for Holy Orders, found an order for forced evacuation at the time, the Order of Transfer, and the copy of it was displayed at this exhibition. It is said to be very rare that such and order remains, and it seems that Gifu Shimbun and even persons concerned of Kyoto University are interested.
Which reminds me, during those days when I was a rector in Gifu, I had heard from Bishop Ogasawara about the forced church evacuation. Back then, the church in Kanda-machi was forced to leave in preparation for an air raid and evacuated to Mino-ota. I recall him saying not a penny was paid for the eviction since it was an order from the prefecture.
The Order of Transfer was in the name of the Governor of Gifu and said, “The building (related to Sei Ko Kai in Gifu) is needed in order to execute the air raid evacuation. Ought to transfer to Gifu Prefecture. This is an order under the provisions of the Law of Air Defense.” It was dated April 25 and said the church was to be transferred by May 5. It was an order on such a short notice. Soon after on July 9 the central part of Gifu City was burnt to ashes due to an air raid, and the lives of approximately 900 people were lost.
When it comes to war, not a single personal situation is taken into account, and everything is sacrificed for “the country.” The situation probably will not change even with the times. It has become an era where over 80 percent of the population has not experienced war. We need to think about the consequences of war to its greatest, and do our best in preventing that from happening.
The Rt Revd Peter Ichiro Shibusawa