Poorly-fed Children (欠食児童)
Poorly-fed children are children to whom meal is not given enough due to the economic poverty of the family. In Japan, it is often used especially for children who cannot bring a lunch box to school.
Poorly-fed Children in Japan
When the price of rice was sluggish by deflation due to the Financial Policy by Masayoshi Matsukata, the land-tax of fixed amount payment became a heavy burden on farmers, and many of them suffered from poverty. As a result of the poverty, a lot of farmers sold out the lands and became a Kosakunin (tenant farmer). After the Matsukata Financial Policy, the life of farmers fell into chronic poverty and many farmers could not afford to provide meals for children. The poverty of farmers made land owners accumulate lands and their capital was turned to the investment such as stocks. Moreover, agricultural villages provided cheap labor, as typified by the female labor that worked in cotton textile industry, and promoted the development of the Japanese capitalism. Since the Japanese capitalism had developed in this way, the poverty of the farmers was never improved. The farmers were greatly affected by the Showa Depression in 1930, and the poorly-fed children became a serious social problem in various regions mainly in Tohoku.
After the war, the General Headquarters of the Allied Powers (GHQ) pushed through the farmland reform to reform the parasitic landlord system which had become a hotbed of Japanese militarism, and it turned many farmers into land-owning farmers. However, as the area under cultivation per farmer was small and the farmers were forced to manage small farms, the poverty of the farmers was never fundamentally improved. Therefore, even after the war, many poorly-fed children remained in the farm family. When a school lunch program was generalized and Japan became one of the advanced countries both in name and reality through the high economic growth, the economic conditions for the farmers were improved and the word of 'Poorly-fed Children' became obsolete today. Although the number of poorly-fed children is fewer than before, it is true that they still remain today.
In other countries, a deficiency of food became a serious problem in many developing countries mainly in Africa and children, a substantial number of so called 'Poorly-fed Children' in Japan, exist. The deficiency of food is serious especially in the least developed countries such as Somalia, Sudan, and Ethiopia. These countries are facing a rapid increase in population and their future prospects are not bright. The day when the issue of 'poorly fed children' is eliminated will be a long time coming.
And, there is a country like Korea where even if the economy has relatively grown, the poorly-fed children becomes a social problem.