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War Orphans and Homeless Children

In the aftermath of World War II, tens of thousands of Japanese children were orphaned.  They had lost their parents in fire bombings and the atomic bombings; they were separated from their parents during repatriation from former Japanese colonies; and many were simply lost in the chaos that resulted from the physical and economic devastation of Japan. There was little government support for these children.  They often lived on the streets, surviving on sheer scrappiness — shining shoes, selling newspapers, begging, and stealing.  The Prange Collection contains materials by and about war orphans.  Below are a few examples.


『戦災孤児の記録』 (A Record of War Orphans) edited by 島田正蔵、田宮虎彦 (Shimada Shōzō, Tamiya Torahiko), 1947, pp. 35-36. Published by 文明者出版部 (Bunmeisha Shuppanbu) [Prange Call no. D-0652] The book includes 30 short essays written by war orphans who were admitted to Hagiyama Gakuen (a facility for war orphans). Below is a translation of one of the essays.

『父と母を思う』(Thinking of Father and Mother) by 中林博 (Hiroshi Nakabayashi), 3rd grader [age 8 or 9 years old]
My mother was killed in the air raid of March 1945 when I was in second grade. I missed her very much and I was awfully lonely. Since then I was always thinking of her, even while I went begging. Then, an American took care of me about two weeks until he went back to his country. So, I needed to be a beggar again. I could not help thinking of my mother whenever I went begging. Then I went to Tokyo. A person brought me home and I stayed there around two weeks. Then, I moved to Kōjimachi Temporary Shelter where I spent a few days and came to Hagiyama Gakuen. When the principal asked me a lot of questions, I cried a little. I was so upset that I almost said, ―mother – out loud. I have been thinking of my father and mother since then. I wish my mother were alive and stayed with me.

『童子抄』 (Essay on Children) by 齋藤喜博 (Saitō Kihaku), 1946. Published by 古今書房 (Kokon Shobō) [Prange Call no. 403-0063]

「クローズ・アップされた社会層の断面」 (―Close-up of Cross-section of Social Strata‖) in『クローズ・アップ』 (Close-up) edited by 永井嘉一 (Nagai Kaichi), 1948, p.15. Published by 硏光社(Kenkōsha) [Prange Call no. GV-0350c]


「忘れられた戦災孤児」 (―Forgotten War Orphans‖) by 加藤シズエ (Katō Shizue) in 『週刊朝日』(The Asahi Weekly), vol. 49, no. 1, July, 1946, pp. 12-13. Published by 朝日新聞社 (Asahi Shinbunsha) [Prange Call no. S-2321]

Robert P. Schuster Photograph

rs-0322RS-0322: With the description, “These Jap kids are always eager to pose for pictures. Note the ruin Osaka, Japan Aug. 46.” written by Schuster on the back of photograph.  From the Robert P. Schuster Photograph Collection.



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