Colonial authorities discussed how to reduce prenatal/infant mortality rates in the midst of severe 1943 wartime food shortages, declaring that the Korean children belong to Imperial Japan and not to the mother, who must raise them into future soldiers and leaders of the Co-prosperity Sphere

This is my translation and transcription of three news articles from Keijo Nippo, a propaganda newspaper and mouthpiece of the government of Japan-colonized Korea. They have never been republished or translated before, to the best of my knowledge. They provide a revealing glimpse into the desperate suffering of the nursing babies, infants, and mothers of Korea amid the tremendous stresses of World War II.

Over three days (three parts) in May 1943, the newspaper gathered together a panel of experts from the medical field, schools, social welfare departments, and the colonial government to discuss how to reduce prenatal and infant mortality rates. 

In the first part, they discussed ways to increase the population of Imperial Japan by reducing miscarriages, throwing around ideas like lowering the marriage age, prioritizing food rations for pregnant women, instituting maternal leave, promoting delivery in hospitals, and controlling tuberculosis.

In the second part, they discussed mothers and children suffering from food shortages (baby formula, eggs, dairy milk, fish, tofu, etc.), and prioritizing food rationing to expectant and nursing mothers with doctor’s certificates, promoting breast milk, and teaching dental hygiene using salt or toothpaste to brush teeth, concluding with a declaration that infants are the property of the nation.

In the third part, more politically charged than the previous two parts, they discussed ‘proper’ child rearing practices and children’s spiritual education, emphasizing that the mother should adopt a faithful devotion to all household as a form of devotion to the Emperor, that the ‘previously prevailing individualistic and liberal attitude on children’s education must be abandoned’, and children must worship at the kamidana (small Shinto altar) every morning.

I have not done a thorough fact check of all the medical advice in these old articles, but needless to say that they should all be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism, as several pieces of advice already look pretty suspect first glance, especially their tips on raising children. 


Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) May 1, 1943

Child Protection Roundtable Discussion (Sponsored by the newspaper head office) (Part 1 of 3)

Give birth to 100 million more people!

Pregnant women are not comfortable with queuing up to buy things


  • Dr. Hata (Department of Gynecology, Seoul University)
  • Dr. Amano (Department of Law and Literature, Seoul University)
  • Dr. Hironaka (Department of Pediatrics, Seoul Medical Center)
  • Dr. Yao (Seoul Dental College)
  • Ms. Su’e Aiko (Green Banner League)
  • Ms. Yajima Seiko (Seoul Friends Association)
  • Ms. Kim Jin-jeong (김진정/金珎禎) (Patriotic Women’s Association, Korea Headquarters)
  • Ms. Dr. Tomura Kimiko (Medical doctor)
  • Ms. Choi Yang-yo (최양요/崔良窯) (Gyeonggi Girls’ High School)
  • Mr. Nagai (Director of Social Affairs Division, Governor-General’s Office)
  • Mr. Iwasa (Social Affairs Division, Governor-General’s Office)
  • Mr. Ōtsuka (Director of the Korean Social Work Association)
  • Mr. Kojima (Director, Welfare Department, Korean Federation of National Power)
  • Mr. Jeong (Director of the Editorial Bureau for Mainichi Shimbun)
  • Mr. Hong (Director of Social Affairs Department of Mainichi Shimbun)
  • Mr. Mine (Director of Social Affairs Department, Keijo Nippo Head Office), Mr. Suzuki, (Director of Business Department, Keijo Nippo Head Office), and Mr. Kagawa (Reporter, Keijo Nippo Head Office)

This year, too, from the 1st to the 10th, the People’s Health Campaign will be held simultaneously in all of Korea. The Korean Social Work Association, in cooperation with the Korean Federation of National Power and the Social Work Associations of the provinces, will launch the “Child Protection Campaign”. To spearhead the campaign, the Keijo Nippo head office held a “Child Protection Roundtable Discussion” as follows, inviting authoritative figures from various fields on the issues of nursing babies, infants, and women.

Mr. Nagai: For ten days from May 1, the Healthy People Movement will be conducted through various organizations, and the results of the Healthy People/Healthy Troops Movement have been spectacularly achieved with the collective consensus of 100 million people fighting a decisive battle. This month, we would like to hear your opinions from all of you about protecting children. The moderator is Dr. Amano. Dr. Amano, your thoughts?

Dr. Amano: The situation of the Greater East Asia War is becoming increasingly serious, and we need to think more deeply about childbirth and child rearing. The first and foremost issue is to give birth to many strong children. Since this is the only way, I believe that providing guidance on how to protect pregnant and nursing mothers is the first issue to be considered when discussing wartime life. Let’s start with Dr. Hata.

Dr. Hata: During the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Greater East Asia War, a large number of people were mobilized to the front lines, and in order to replenish this number, it is necessary to greatly increase the number of people behind the front lines. The reason why ancient Greece and Egypt were in such a state in the past is because of their excessive culture and misplaced population growth. What about the people of Japan? Japan is surrounded by the following countries. Across the Pacific Ocean is the United States with a population of 130 million. To the west is the Soviet Union, with a population of 170 million and the world’s highest population growth rate. China has 400 million people. In order to establish an East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere in the midst of such a situation, Japan must further increase its population.

In January 1941, the government established the Outline for the Establishment of Population Policy, which stated that Japan must produce 100 million people by 1960, and that each family should have at least five children. In Japan, however, the birth rate was 36.2 per 1,000 in 1920, 30.6 per 1,000 in 1937, and 26.7 per 1,000 in 1938, but as a result of the cooperation of the government, doctors, and others, the rate has gradually improved. The situation has been improved by the people’s awareness and the improvement of various institutions to prevent deaths, increase births, and prevent the transmission of tuberculosis to nursing babies and infants.

The age of marriage is being advanced to three years earlier within the next ten years, and in mainland Japan, the lending of marriage and childbirth funds is being discussed, and various facilities are being established to ensure healthy childbirths. According to an announcement by the Japan Gynecological Society in 1940, a survey of fetal deaths, assuming that the total number of conceptions in a year was 2 million, showed that there were 86,000 spontaneous abortions in the third month of pregnancy, which is four times the total number of births in Kyoto in a year, and over 50,000 stillbirths in the tenth month of pregnancy, which is the total number of births in Kyoto and Nagoya in a year. That means that 280,000 people are being lost between the first and tenth months of pregnancy, which is quite astonishing.

The high number of premature births, especially before delivery, is especially thought-provoking. We should use our efforts to prevent premature births, educate mothers about motherhood, and ensure the mental and physical health of mothers. In a nutshell, there is no other way to feed pregnant and nursing mothers than to prioritize them over healthier people by giving them more food rations.

Miscarriages can be caused by excessive labor, sexually transmitted diseases, endometritis, or a deficiency of progestin or vitamins, so it is essential to seek professional medical care at an early stage. Early treatment is essential to avoid miscarriage and to ensure a safe delivery.

Dr. Amano: Now that we have discussed the issue of overwork among women, I would like to hear your thoughts about this.

Dr. Hata: Statistics show that more than 50% of working women have irregular menstruation, and this is particularly high in printing factories, where 30% of pregnancies end in miscarriages. Of the 70% of pregnancies which end in delivery, 20% of the babies die due to weakness, which is a very serious problem, and it is necessary to protect working women and professional women. In mainland Japan, there are mandatory resting periods to provide adequate rest, and I think this is something that should be considered in the near future in Korea as well.

Dr. Amano: I guess shopping queues are not good for pregnant women these days.

Dr. Hata: They are not good at all. In mainland Japan, it seems that pregnant women are given priority in the distribution of food rations, and people are willing to give up their rights to each other in the queue.

Dr. Amano: Is it because of the lack of manpower? Something must be done about this. 

Dr. Hata: The winter months are worse than the summer months, and there have been cases of miscarriages due to the passage of several hours.

Dr. Amano: If women are in the workforce for a long period of time as the war drags on, they will enter a wider range of men’s professions. If employers do not pay enough attention to their health in consideration of their employment, they may miscarry after pregnancy, or die soon after birth. What is the situation in mainland Japan?

Dr. Hata: As a result of the January 1941 regulations, mandatory rest and dormitory facilities seem to be going relatively well.

Dr. Tomura: At any rate, housewives nowadays bear an excessive burden in terms of air defense, patriotic organization events, and other household chores. There is a lot to consider about pregnancy and child rearing after delivery. I believe there is room for further investigation into the relationship between food and nutrition.

Ms. Kim: I always think about professional women. Some of them have miscarriages because they push themselves too hard before giving birth, and some of them fall into unexpected serious conditions due to lack of medical care after childbirth, partly because they cannot receive adequate treatment at hospitals. Because the family’s finances do not allow it, these failures are repeated, and precious human resources are lost.

Dr. Amano: In case of air raids, there is also the problem of how to treat pregnant women. How would you deal with such limitations?

Dr. Hata: I believe that it is better to evacuate the pregnant women until the seventh month, but not after that. The high rate of deliveries that take place at home instead of in hospitals is also a problem that should be given considerable thought. The number of deaths due to unexpected accidents and abnormal pregnancies during childbirth is over 100,000. At hospitals, the fetal death rate due to unexpected accidents is 0.6%, whereas it is 1.2% at home. At hospitals, the rate of breech births is 15%, whereas it is 30% at home. The rate of death is high due to inadequate treatment for neonatal asphyxia. Therefore, it is important that abnormal pregnancies be handled in hospitals and maternity hospitals as much as possible, from the standpoint of increasing the population. For this purpose, we need to build more maternity hospitals and other facilities that allow hospitalization at low cost. Otherwise, we will not be able to fully achieve our goal. 

[Photo: Roundtable discussion]


Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) May 2, 1943

Child Protection Roundtable Discussion (Sponsored by the newspaper head office) (Part 2 of 3)

Strong children come from healthy mothers

Weaning indigestion is frightening

Dr. Amano: What are your opinions on the protection of nursing babies and infants? What about artificial nutrition? What about the current food supply? Dr. Hironaka, your thoughts on this?

Dr. Hironaka: The infant mortality rate is high, especially for newborns. The death rate is particularly high for infants who are weak at birth, have weak vitality, or are born prematurely, so this has a close relationship with obstetrics and gynecology. As mentioned earlier, the nutritional condition of the pregnant woman is closely connected to vitamins and hormones, as well as genetics. You can say that, if the mother is strong, the child is also strong. Various postnatal disorders can be prevented to a great extent by the mother being attentive.

The main factor in preventing illness in infants is how to feed them, and formula feeding has a higher morbidity rate than breast milk. The first step is to feed the mother’s milk. However, recently the use of formula feeding has increased dramatically. I don’t know if it’s because of the shortage of the mother’s milk, but the use of powdered and blended milk substitutes has increased. Moreover, there is a shortage of these substitutes these days, which is a serious problem from a national perspective, and infants’ food should be given more consideration than that of adults.

In addition, there seems to be a shortage of pacifiers, which also needs to be considered. Secondly, there is a high mortality rate among infants during the weaning period after they grow bigger. This is due to the way food is fed, and should be considered more seriously than the problem of artificial nutrition. Eating at this age is truly difficult. They easily have diarrhea. In addition, mothers are suffering from the lack of eggs, small fish, tofu, and other foods. If babies overdo it and suffer from indigestion, they can hardly survive these days. Even if they do survive, the effects will be felt later on when they are older. I would like you to consider this and give sufficient thought to the distribution of food rations.

Dr. Amano: It is very difficult to raise children these days, isn’t it?

Mr. Nagai: It seems that there are no eggs or tofu. Milk, curd, and powdered milk are also limited these days because of the shortage, but we issue tickets in the cities, towns, and townships to those who need them who have a doctor’s certificate, so please apply for them without delay. In addition, cotton cloths for expectant and nursing mothers are also preferentially distributed to those with a doctor’s certificate.

Ms. Su’e: Speaking of breast milk, when my first child was born, I had a lot of breast milk, but with my second child, I was a little emotionally upset, so I had no breast milk at all. Perhaps there is a relationship with food and emotions?

Dr. Hata: At least half of the time, it has a great deal to do with mental effects. Also, when there is a shortage of breast milk, we try to give them dairy milk, but even then there may only be three gō (0.54 liters) or five gō (0.90 liters) of dairy milk to give them, the milk shipment may only come at 9 or 10, around 4 in the afternoon, or never. We are troubled by this, but we would like to get this done right somehow. There is also no bread, potato starch, etc. I would like to make a loud appeal on these points from the standpoint of child protection.

Dr. Amano: How is the growth of the fetus affected by meals?

Dr. Hata: According to last year’s statistics, there does not seem to be much of a relationship. Even if you look at the pregnant women in the lower classes, there is no significant effect on the fetus.

Dr. Amano: Insufficient nutrition of the mother and fetus and inadequate food for the infant cause many difficulties, but what about the teeth of the mother and child? Dr. Yao, please go ahead.

Dr. Yao: In Germany, children born after the last World War had bad teeth due to the extreme shortage of food supplies, and this is a problem that we have to think carefully about. Since tooth decay causes various diseases and causes a high mortality rate, if the distribution system is not smooth like nowadays, this result will appear in a few years, even if this problem does not appear now. Then this would mean that Japan will be following in the footsteps of Germany, and we will need to conduct good research into how these problems will manifest themselves in the future. Baby teeth grow from six months to two years of age, and permanent teeth grow from six to eight years of age. Many people think that it does not matter how many decayed baby teeth there are, but this is a serious mistake. When baby teeth have cavities, the permanent teeth that come in later are weakened, causing irregular dentition. This can also lead to the inability to take in sufficient nutrition in the future. Therefore, in order to have healthy permanent teeth, it is important to take good care of the baby teeth.

Pregnant women should also take care to nourish their children and ensure that they have healthy teeth. As Dr. Hironaka mentioned earlier, breastfeeding is better than artificial nutrition, and this is also true from the standpoint of dentistry. This is why rubber nipples for artificial feeding are not a good idea. When a nursing baby feeds on breast milk, it makes a sweaty effort and the mouth and neck become filled with blood, which stimulates the development of the cervical bone, and the baby grows smoothly. In this sense, breastfeeding is the best.

Dr. Amano: I see. That means that baby teeth are not to be treated as a trivial matter.

Dr. Yao: That’s right. There is no better way to treat cavities in baby teeth than to treat them as soon as possible. If it is in the early stages of decay, it can be filled with cement, and the cost will be lower. As for the cost, as I mentioned earlier, there are many cases where the costs for pregnant and nursing mothers do not go so well due to hospitalization. The other day, I went back to my hometown (Okayama) for a short while, and there, the prefectural government provides health insurance and hospitalization at a very low cost. For example, when my father was hospitalized, the hospitalization fee was 50 yen and the food cost was 1.20 yen, so the hospital services were much appreciated and used by the villagers. I would like to see this expanded in Korea as well. Next to the basic prevention of cavities, if you follow the second preventive method of using a toothbrush to remove food debris, you can be sure that you will never get a cavity. However, it is necessary to use the toothbrush in the correct way. You must use the brush in the “vertical” position. It is a big mistake to say that you should brush in the morning but not at night, because doing it at night before going to bed is the most effective way to prevent cavities.

Dr. Tomura: What is the difference between using salt and using toothpaste?

Dr. Yao: There is not much of a difference.

Dr. Amano: What about the education of young children at Seoul Friends Association?

Ms. Yajima: Yes, we have a group called “Friends Association” for children who will go to the National School (elementary school) next year (Tuesday group) and those who will be 5 or 6 years old (Wednesday group). The children attend once a week at Mr. Kojima’s home. We also put a lot of effort into teaching them how to brush their teeth. At five or six years of age, children like to show themselves off to other people, so we take advantage of this psychology to have them do things together, so that it becomes a great encouragement for them. 

Dr. Amano: Ms. Choi, you seem to have raised many excellent children in spite of your busy schedule. Do you have any special methods to share?

Ms. Choi: In spite of my busy work at school (as a teacher), all three of my children have grown up to be strong and healthy. I am very careful when raising babies, but I think the most important thing is to feed them milk at the right time from the very beginning. Since it would inconvenience me at work when they sleep during the day and remain awake during the night, I asked my nanny to not let them sleep during the day as much as possible, to enforce the habit of sleeping well at night. I think that a well-regulated lifestyle is the special method for preventing illness.

Dr. Hironaka: That is a very good story.

Dr. Amano: So-called well-educated women do not always raise strong, good children, and there are a few examples of women who are not so well-educated but have done a great job of raising good children to bear the fruit of child protection. What kind of mother is considered a good mother? Dr. Hironaka, your thoughts?

Dr. Hironaka: In other words, children grow up well because they are raised well, and there are many women who do not understand this point very well. [laughter]

Mr. Nagai: There are also women who are self-centered in the way they soothe their babies. [laughter]

Ms. Kim: Since the mortality rate is high in Korea, I wish there were more nursing baby and infant care centers. I would like to see university hospitals and medical centers, including Asahi Medical Center, Japan Red Cross Hospital, and other hospitals, provide facilities for nursing babies and infants for thorough prevention and treatment, as well as attached maternity hospitals. The rise and fall of a nation depend on its infants, and even if they are born from the mother’s bosom, they are not the property of the individual, but rather they are the property of the nation.


Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) May 3, 1943

Child Protection Roundtable Discussion (Sponsored by the newspaper head office) (Part 3 of 3)

Mothers, be strict with your children

Children should not be shy or timid

Mr. Iwasa: The Governor-General’s Office has been distributing a child-rearing calendar since January of this year. It is extremely detailed so that even first-time mothers can understand tips for pregnant women, childbirth and child-rearing methods by month, early treatment for illness, etc.

Ms. Su’e: Every Tuesday, the Green Banner League holds a nursing baby and infant counseling session at Chōjiya Japanese restaurant, and it has been a success every time. As of December, a total of 554 children have been examined. The number of consultations was 306: 110 consultations on breastfeeding, 18 consultations on artificial nutrition, and 177 consultations on weaning. In addition to distributing this infant calendar, we are researching how to prepare food for weaning, how to use clothes, how to make underwear, and so on, since there are supply shortages.

Ms. Yajima: How to spend the winter season is also a major issue, and we are collecting statistics among our members on whether it is better to use a warm ondol room or a stove because of the fuel shortages. Among active measures, infant exercises are also good, and I think it is also good for mothers to help their children do these exercises.

Mr. Ōtsuka: Last year we held a “Mother and Child Exhibition” for one week and it was packed, and this year we will hold it again with different content at the Ikueikai Educational Society. This year, we will hold a new lecture on childcare, and on the 7th, there will be a lecture by Dr. Izumi from Seoul University, and a movie night at the Seoul Citizens Hall.

Dr. Amano: Now I would like to turn to the issue of spiritual education for children.

Mr. Mine (Director of Social Affairs Department): Today, the issue of nursing babies and infants must be considered not only from the perspective of humanity, but also from the perspective of the nation – that is, the nation as a whole. Children up to the age of six should not be spoiled, selfish, shy, or depressed. The child demanded by the nation must be a strong, cheerful child who is able to grow and develop. I believe that there is such a thing as a small child with beautiful behavior and a lovely heart. If not, it is the mother’s fault. It can be said that the environment around them made them that way. For example, a child who breaks a shōji (paper sliding door) is a result of the mother’s slovenliness. A child who is shy around others is also not healthy.

Dr. Amano: As you just said, a mother’s attitude is certainly important. They are the children of the nation, so they need to be trained.

Ms. Su’e: A mother’s faithful devotion to all household chores, from morning to night, means that she is dedicated to His Majesty. I believe that the Japanese way of discipline is to bow down to His Majesty’s side.

Dr. Amano: I believe that there is a certain way to discipline children who are shy or timid, who will be of no use as the future leaders of the co-prosperity sphere. How do you deal with this at Seoul Friends Association?

Ms. Yajima: At Seoul Friends Association, we are often told that we do not scold our children enough, but our principle is that we want the children to notice us.

Dr. Amano: I believe that the previously prevailing individualistic and liberal attitude on children’s education must be abandoned in favor of a more holistic and nationalistic approach. What kinds of opinions do Korean people have on this?

Ms. Kim: I have heard from women’s groups from the provinces that, ever since the announcement of the conscription order, the basic ideas held by Korean children have completely changed, they have discovered a sense of purpose that they can become great soldiers of the Imperial Japanese military, and they are very happy about it. I would like to see the children thoroughly imbued with a sense of mission at this time.

Dr. Amano: Then there is the problem of children’s toys. Due to the scarcity of materials, we seem to be seeing some very poor quality toys. What kind of toys do you recommend, Dr. Hironaka?

Dr. Hironaka: First of all, they should be injury-proof. Poor quality paint is also dangerous. Educational toys are also important.

Ms. Su’e: As for how to give toys to children, I think that if you give toys to children on a day of national significance, such as the Tenchō’s Festival (the Emperor’s Birthday) or New Year’s Day, they will be more inclined to cherish the toys. There is a custom of giving toys as mere souvenirs, but I think this is the worst thing you can do.

Mr. Hong: I would like to see some kind of control over this practice, because inferior toys are made by merchants for their own profit. They cost two or three yen and break immediately. The psychological impact on a child’s mind is so serious that I have decided not to buy such toys for the past several years.

Mr. Mine: I am glad to see that there is more ingenuity and structure in the world of children, as the little ones at my place have been cleverly combining building blocks and the Chinese Checkers board to play games consistent with the times, such as pretending to sink U.S. warships.

Ms. Yajima: If you put colored paper on an empty box or a honeycomb box, it can be used as a doll house or as a train, and it is very useful.

Ms. Choi: Recently at my house, we have stopped using dolls, and my children are holding pillows and calling them their babies. [laughter]

Ms. Kim: I hope there will be an institute for research and guidance on child psychology. There have been many cases where children have become delinquents because they were not given proper guidance. I hope that the Governor-General’s Office will consider setting up an institute for this kind of psychological guidance in addition to the awards for excellent children.

Dr. Amano: In order to raise children to be physically strong and mentally strong, I think we should put more soul into their spiritual education. What is the best way to infuse strong spirituality into children?

How should we deal with children not only in national school education, but also at home? For example, we should lead a disciplined life by worshiping at the kamidana altar every morning, or we should naturally reflect this into our children by showing the strict attitude of parents who do not allow their spirit to be disturbed. If parents themselves maintain a winning attitude and strong spirit, their children will naturally follow them. According to the conventional school survey statistics in Japan, children from families that are financially very well off do not perform that well in school, while those from middle-class or lower-class families are actually more likely to produce upright individuals. I believe this is the result of parents who were not able to live up to their own expectations in their own lives, so they reflect a strict mentality onto their own children, wanting their children to live up to the parents’ own expectations, and this propels their children forward. I think we have run out of time, so we will close this discussion.  =End=



京城日報 1943年5月1日

児童愛護座談会 本社主催 (上)








































京城日報 1943年5月2日

児童愛護座談会 本社後援 (中)





























京城日報 1943年5月3日

児童愛護座談会 本社後援 (下)