On the International Year for Children - 1

On the International Year for Children - 1

Culling of Children

The idea is that how we should correlate the mind of Japanese in Manyo Era, that children are a treasure more precious than silver and gold, with the fact that there was "culling" of newborns up until one hundred years ago, as well as the recent sharp decrease in infant mortality in Japan.

The practice of "culling", the act by parents to kill their babies who were just born, was being conducted and accepted in the time of war or drought up until Edo Period, or even more recently, so that they could reduce the number of mouths they had to feed.

A birth record of Kazusa Region in 1850s indicates that more than 500 out of 1, 000 newborns died, many of whom were the second or younger sons, or daughters in the family. The first son was not killed because he was supposed to succeed to his father; more girls were killed than boys, who were to become the work force in the future.

How did the parents feel when they had to kill their own babies? Even now we see many stone statues of Jizo, a guardian deity of children, to mourn for the babies where there was lots of culling. The parents'feeling is not irrelevant to the spirit of the Manyo poem.

Kobayashi, Noboru (1981)."Kokusai Jidounen ni Omou-1"

(written in Japanese).Tokyo:Child Research Net.Retrieved Mar 25, 2006, from the

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