2004 年 49 巻 2 号 p. 37-57,156
In pre-war Japan, crime prevention was one of main goals of the child welfare movement. The advocates of abandoned children commonly warned the public to prevent those children from becoming delinquent youth. In this paper, I explore the historical formation of such a claim, by tracing the definition of delinquent youth in the Meiji period. In the early Meiji period, the category of "delinquent youth" did not include innocent abandoned children. Instead, such children were merely considered poor unfortunates. From the late 1890s, however, the linkage between delinquent youth and abandoned children began to be "discovered" from two sides. On the one hand, Adachi Noritada, an executive staff member of the Tokyo Poor House, reported the process of abandoned children becoming delinquent, based on his interviews of those children and his observations of their actual lives on the streets or living in temple gardens.
Adachi claimed that they grew up to be thieves and pickpockets by learning bad lessons from older beggarly boys. On the other hand, Ogawa Shigejiro, a leading prison bureaucrat, claimed that he discovered the backgrounds of "habitual criminals." He stated that habitual criminals, the most dangerous type, had been abandoned in their childhood and then joined crowds of vagrants and beggars, from whom they learned thievery, pickpocketing, or arson and so became delinquent youth and full-fledged criminals. Ogawa's statement was an epistemological construct based on the new criminological theories of Franz von Liszt and Enrico Ferri in Europe. Together with Adachi's report, however, Ogawa's statement was persuasive enough for personnel of prisons, reformatories, and orphanages to perceive abandoned children as criminals-to-be and to advocate relief for them in order to prevent their crimes. Based on these historical findings, I stress the importance of analyzing the symbolic relationships among social categories, which often have been beyond the scope of social construction theories in sociology.