Meiji Era Christians' remains unearthed

Mainichi Shimbun, Sunday 16 May 1999

KANAZAWA—The 40 remains of what scientists believe were Christians persecuted by the Meiji government, were discovered at a construction site here, the Construction Ministry has announced.

After receiving a request by local residents, including a priest, to preserve the remains, the ministry's Kanazawa office decided to delay their plan to cremate the remains.

According to officials of the ministry office, workers at a tunnel construction site along Route 8 in Goshomachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, unearthed the remains from 13 tomb pits that were found on a mountain slope in October last year.

Officials at the Jikei University School of Medicine, which examined the remains, determined that they date back to around 1870. The officials have also determined that 22 were women and that their ages apparently ranged from 1 year old to 60 years old. The remains were not accompanied with any burial accessories, the officials said.

The officials and historians believe that these were the remains of Christians who were deported to Kanazawa from Urakami, Nagasaki Prefecture, in the Meiji Era (1868-1911) and died in a mountainous area where they had been confined.

In 1868, the Meiji government issued a ban on Christianity.

In the following years, the government deported some 3,400 Christians from Nagasaki to 21 provinces—then called han—across the nation in a bid to have them change their religion.