Japanese War Experiments-The horrors of Unit 731
Posted 31 January 2005 - 02:44 PM
The grins will surely turn to grimaces when such people learn that "Unit 731" is convenient shorthand for one of history's most diabolical and repulsive policies, namely imperial Japan's secretive, concerted attempt to develop biowar weapons using human guinea pigs in experiments.
American journalist Daniel Barenblatt, a Harvard graduate, says he decided to write at length on this harrowing topic because, as he stated in an exclusive interview to Asia Times Online recently in Beijing (with e-mail follow ups), he thinks that something is fundamentally wrong with the world. This is especially true with the decisions of destructive politicians. Unit 731 is a blood-soaked example of what he detests.
For Barenblatt, who describes himself as "extremely sensitive", conducting this path-breaking research was like striding forward with a thorn in his foot. As he fathomed ugly truths, he was in "non-stop pain" emotionally.
His self-torturing efforts may have paid off, for Barenblatt's book appears to break new information presented in dynamic prose that neither trivializes nor hypes the topic. The work could become a leader in its field.
For instance, in 1994, American historian Sheldon Harris wrote the then touchstone work on the subject, Factories of Death, with an update in 2001. While Barenblatt lionizes Harris, he has added "genocide" in his subtitle to underscore the fact that Japan's perfidy killed a stunning 580,000 people, a higher number than Harris cited. He derives the figure from the collective opinions of experts and scholars attending a December 2002 conference in Changde, Hunan province, China.
Barenblatt's portrait of Japanese doctor Shiro Ishii, the evil mastermind behind the biowar program, is outstanding, in contrast to Harris's more academic prose. Here, Ishii is described in colorful and gripping passages as brilliant, charming, intimidating, embezzling, stone-hearted - and prone to satisfying his huge sex drive with girls no older than 16. Barenblatt adroitly summarizes that Ishii was "a brash and flamboyantly corrupt man who considered himself a visionary" beyond scruples, driven to break new scientific ground and to help Japan defeat its foes.
What did this awful man do? At "medical" facilities such as Unit 731 in Pingfan, Manchuria, starting in 1936 - building upon earlier efforts - Ishii and his cohorts carried out experiments that included injecting viruses or pathogens for cholera, anthrax, bubonic plague and many other diseases into living prisoners; the bacteria or germs would incubate in their bodies.
Then the victim would be strapped down to an operating table. Some screamed in a non-human way when they realized their fate: Unit 731 "doctors" would cut them open to observe the progress of the germs incubating within them or to harvest organs that had enough germs to weaponize or spread on nearby villagers.
During one anthrax operation, the doctors noted the progress of the pathogen organ by organ. The victim's suffering was unspeakable, with "his organs swelling, bleeding and disintegrating". In a poignant summary of the horror, Barenblatt says that the doctors in the biowar program turned life - biology - against life.
Other experiments were not related to germ warfare per se, but transpired so that the doctors could learn more about how humans live and die. These included studies of dehydration, starvation, frostbite, air pressure - some inmates had their eyes blown out - transfusions of animal blood to humans and others. Even children and babies were destroyed this way. Other ghoulish experiments included cutting off a prisoner's hands and sewing them back on to the opposite arms to gauge what happened.
According to Barenblatt, the Japanese also carried out experiments on other Japanese in the home islands akin to Nazi efforts on the mentally handicapped. The victims were Japanese prisoners of the Soviets; when released, they returned to Japan. It was the gravest shame to have the inferior Russians - further stigmatized as communists - capture a Japanese. The ordeal ended in the death of the Japanese subjects.
One of the most stirring passages comes when Barenblatt refines a tale that Harris first related of a Chinese hero known only as Li. He organized an escape from Unit 731's precursor human-experiment compound at Beiyinhe. Apparently, Li knocked a guard over the head though his cell bars and snatched his keys. Then he unfastened his leg irons and released other prisoners too.
Next Li led the prisoners to the compound wall, forming a human chain to try to get the group of 30 men up and over. Guards killed Li before he could escape, but a dozen men did get out, making Li a true champion. "I was able to pin it down as 1934," says Barenblatt of the escape's date.
Barenblatt courts controversy when he implicitly condemns the US for agreeing not to prosecute Unit 731 miscreants after the war in return for their research. The United States' usual alibi is that the Americans feared that the data would fall into Soviet hands. According to Barenblatt, the Russians had long obtained information on the experiments, making the US "denial" strategy moot.
However, American Cold Warriors might counter-argue that, because of ethical constraints, it would be entirely impossible for them to replicate a single immoral experiment to gather even an iota of data. As long as the Americans feared that the Kremlin could obtain more biowarfare information from the doctors - just when its nuclear inferiority made such data ever more valuable - the West had to act maximally to protect itself. Perhaps it is safest to assert that the bargain will remain a controversy.
Barenblatt also reveals that the US had a biowar program of its own at Camp Detrick, Maryland, where it conducted research for offensive and defensive reasons. "I have a great deal of new, declassified material from Camp Detrick and the US military," he boasts. It remains to be seen whether experts in the area buttress or scotch his ideas on the scope and aims of the US efforts.
Barenblatt will surely raise hackles for backing an old charge that China, the USSR and North Korea first leveled against the US during the Korean War, namely that it was employing biowar weapons based on data procured from the Japanese. He even argues that it is "disturbingly plausible" that Washington brought Ishii, living near Tokyo after the war, to Korea to assist its efforts.
Strangely, while Barenblatt cites a 1952 report that castigates the US, he does not mention the recent work of Canadian scholars Steven Endicott and Edward Hagerman. Their book, The United States and Biological Warfare, drew upon newly opened Chinese archives to declare the United States guilty. The hurdle for all the various accusers, however, is this: crack historians Kathryn Weathersby and Milton Leitenberg have examined the same documents and concluded that the idea of US biowar attacks during the Korean War was a Chinese propaganda hoax.
Those who strenuously argue that it was a profound miscarriage of justice that Ishii the medical Moloch escaped justice might take heart, for Mother Nature meted out punishment of sorts. In 1959, Ishii the pseudo-doctor - he had murdered thousands of people through the deliberate use of various disease - died of throat cancer.
it's pretty sad really......
Posted 01 February 2005 - 05:10 PM
Those who strenuously argue that it was a profound miscarriage of justice that Ishii the medical Moloch escaped justice might take heart, for Mother Nature meted out punishment of sorts. In 1959, Ishii the pseudo-doctor - he had murdered thousands of people through the deliberate use of various disease - died of throat cancer.
it's pretty sad really......
Throat cancer is no justice... sticking a grenade up his behind then pull the ring is.
Do you know when his book will be coming out and by what publishing house?
Also, does his research mentions the Japanese Emperor whose interests was in biology and might have personally got involved with Unit 731?
Posted 01 February 2005 - 07:58 PM
Question: Are there any other historians/researchers/authors who have supporting evidence for what Barenblatt has described in this book? What are Barenblatt's sources?
Posted 01 February 2005 - 10:42 PM
This is all pretty much common knowledge, and while I haven't read the book, it looks like the only ‘controversial’ point that Barenblatt is raising is that since this happened, how the hell could everybody responsible get away with it? Which is a pretty good point.
Hopefully somebody here will get their hands on this and let us know how Barenblatt deals with this event. It is a good question why this isn’t more in the public eye. Maybe that’s what he’s addressing.
For now, this is another article: http://www.copi.com/...t/unit_731.html
An interesting angle (with more links): http://www.ww2pacific.com/unit731.html
http://www.abc.net.a...ies/s841387.htm feels a bit rushed in print but gives a good picture of the ‘controversy’
Also, now at least, the scene of the biowarfare unit is 'Pingfang.'
Posted 01 February 2005 - 10:42 PM
Truly disgusting. Always heard about the atrocities in Manchuria, but when I read them described in detail such as in this review, it churns my stomach.
Question: Are there any other historians/researchers/authors who have supporting evidence for what Barenblatt has described in this book? What are Barenblatt's sources?
I know that hard evidence in terms of mass graves and poision gas canisters have been continously digged up in Dongbei during the current construction boom. There are also eye witness accounts, from both Chinese and Japanese sources. As for the documents of the experiments themselves, I think it is still somewhere in the classified US military archieves.
Posted 06 February 2005 - 03:46 PM
Thanks, tianzhuwoye, but that's sure some pretty sick stuff. Hard to imagine why the Japanese, such proud people, would commit to such atrocities...
By proud I take you meant racist? They don't consider other Asians to be of the same race as they, so it should not be hard to imagine all the atrocities they commit during WW2. Look at the proud, proud Germans, and what they did to people not considered to be of Aryan stock...
Racism is never pretty, but especially so during war.
Posted 21 August 2005 - 04:30 PM
Archives Give up Secrets of Japan's Unit 731
Recently uncovered archives are shedding new light on the chilling details of human experiments carried out more than 60 years ago by Japan's infamous Unit 731.
At a news conference yesterday, researchers in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, formally presented Japanese files recording details of 1,463 people secretly transported to Unit 731 in the Pingfang District of suburban Harbin shortly before and during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45).
The files include full descriptions of 318 cases, including at least 25 victims from the former Soviet Union, Mongolia and Korea.
The files record victims' names, ages, occupations, place of birth and some even contain victims' photographs along with lists of their supposed crimes.
Some are described as "incorrigible", "die-hard anti-Japanese," and "of no value or use."
"This is direct evidence proving Unit 731 conducted biological experiments on live human beings," Jin Chengmin, an expert on Unit 731 from the Harbin Academy of Social Sciences, told China Daily.
Jin said he and his late colleague Han Xiao had spent 20 years going through archives all over the country to collect scattered wartime files left by the Japanese forces.
The files were marked "Special Deportation," indicating the victims were condemned to be sent to Unit 731.
According to Jin, the "special deportation" started on January 26, 1936, when Ishii Shiro, lieutenant-general of Unit 731, felt he needed more human guinea pigs to conduct experiments on.
"These 'special deportations' ensured a supply of human guinea pigs and are a key part of the crimes," Jin said, adding that "by conservative estimates" at least 5,000 people were tortured to death by Unit 731 and its predecessor from 1933 to 1945.
Opening up the archives and identifying victims will allow their offspring and relatives know more about what happened to their ancestors, Jin said.
"Most of the families have no idea what their relatives went through or that they died in that hell-like place," he said.
Unit 731 was notorious for experimenting on live humans in order to develop biological weapons, such as bubonic plague, typhoid, anthrax and cholera.
Outside the camp, an estimated more than 200,000 Chinese were killed by biological weapons produced in the laboratories of Unit 731.
As well as Chinese victims, Russians, Mongolians, Koreans and some prisoners of war from the United States and Europe died in the camp. Historians said Unit 731 would have had the capability to wipe out all human beings on earth if it had kept up full production of its weapons for just one year.
(China Daily August 3, 2005)
Edit: I 've started another thread dedicated to Japanese Biological Weapon Genocide
Because there were other Japanese units that conducted Biological Weapon Warfare or Expriment on live humans too.
Thread : http://www.chinahist...713&hl=unit 731
Edited by superquarterback, 24 August 2005 - 01:12 PM.
Posted 24 August 2005 - 11:52 AM
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Unit 731 was a secret military medical unit of the Imperial Japanese Army that researched biological warfare and other topics through human experimentation during the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) and World War II era. For information on its origin see Kempeitai Political Department and Epidemic Prevention Research Laboratory.
The unit was disguised as a water purification unit. It was based in Pingfan, near the city of Harbin in northeastern China, the region which was then part of the puppet state of Manchukuo. It is estimated that over 3,000 Chinese, Korean, and Allied POWs were killed in the Unit 731 facilities. Many more people died in field experiments directed by Unit 731, but there is no well-established number.
There were other units besides Unit 731, which serves as a general term in describing the Japanese biological warfare program. Other units include Unit 543 (Hailar), Unit 773 (Songo unit), Unit 100 (Changchun), Unit 1644 (Nanjing), Unit 1855 (Beijing), Unit 8604 (Guangzhou), and Unit 9420 Singapore. The acts of Unit 731 are one of many major war crimes committed by the Imperial Japanese Army from the occupation of Manchuria in 1931 to the end of World War II in 1945.
After these laboratories were destroyed by the Japanese to hide their activities, many of the scientists involved went on to prominent careers in politics, academia and business. The United States granted amnesty, allowing these scientists to go unprosecuted in exchange for their experimentation data.
In 1932, Ishii Shiro and his men built the Zhongma Fortress, a prison on the outskirts of Harbin. In 1935 a jailbreak forced Ishii to shut down Zhongma Fortress. Ishii moved closer to Harbin at Pingfang to set up a new facility.
A special project code-named Maruta used human beings for experiments. Test subjects were gathered from the surrounding population and were sometimes known as "logs" (maruta 丸太). This term was the result of the feeling of the scientists that killing a prisoner was the same as cutting down a tree. The test subjects ranged from infants, to old people, to pregnant women along with the fetus. Many experiments were performed without the use of anesthetics because it was believed that it might affect the results.
Live vivisections were performed on prisoners infected with various diseases; scientists would remove organs to study the effects of the disease on the human body.
Prisoners were amputated limb by limb to study blood loss.
Arms were cut off and reattached to opposite sides.
Limbs were frozen and sawed off.
Stomachs were surgically removed and the esophagus was reattached to the intestines.
Parts of brain, lungs, liver, etc were taken out.
Vivisection of a pregnant woman (impregnated by one of the doctors) and the fetus.
Grenade tests used human targets at various distances and positions.
Flame throwers were tested on humans.
Bombs were tested on humans tied to stakes at various positions.
Human subjects were deprived of food and water to study the effects and duration before death.
Prisoners were placed in pressurized chambers until they died.
Frostbite experiments were conducted on prisoners to determine how long humans can survive when exposed to extreme temperatures.
Temperature experiments were performed to determine the relationship between temperature, burns, and survival rate.
Prisoners were placed into centrifuges and spun until they died.
Animal blood was injected into humans.
Prisoners were bombarded with lethal doses of x-ray radiation.
Gas chambers tested chemical weapons on prisoners.
Air bubbles were injected into prisoners' bloodstreams to simulate a stroke.
Sea water was injected into prisoners to determine if it could be substituted for saline.
Japanese scientists tested the plague, cholera, smallpox, botulism, and other diseases on prisoners. Their research led to the development of the defoliation bacilli bomb and the flea bomb to spread the bubonic plague. Some of these bombs were designed with ceramic (porcelain) shells, proposed by Ishii Shiro in 1938. This enabled Japanese soldiers to launch multiple biological attacks by infecting agriculture, reservoirs, wells, and other areas with anthrax, fleas, and other deadly pathogens. Infected food supplies and clothing were dropped by planes in areas of China not occupied by Japanese forces.
Lieutenant-General Shiro Ishii
Lieutenant Colonel Ryoichi Naito
Dr. Masaji Kitano
Unit 731 was divided into eight divisions.
Division 1: Research on bubonic plague, cholera, anthrax, typhoid, tuberculosis on live subjects. For this purpose a prison was constructed to contain around three to four hundred people.
Division 2: Research for biological weapons used on the field, in particular the production of devices to spread germs and parasites.
Division 3: Production of shells containing biological agents. Stationed in Harbin.
Division 4: Production of other miscellaneous agents.
Division 5: Training of personnel.
Division 6-8: Equipment, medical, and administrative units.
One of the buildings is open to tourists
The Unit 731 complex covered six square kilometers and consisted of more than 150 buildings. The facilities were very well designed making it hard to destroy them. Some of Unit 731's satellite facilities still remain and are open to tourists.
The complex contained various production facilities. It had around 4,500 containers for raising fleas, six giant cauldrons to produce various chemicals, and around 1,800 containers to produce biological agents. Approximately 30 kg of bubonic plague bacteria can be produced in several days.
Tens of tons of these biological weapons (and some chemical) were stored in various places in northeastern China throughout the war. The Japanese attempted to destroy every last evidence of the facilities after disbanding; however, this was not successful as evidence has occasionally harmed civilians even very recently. In particular, in August 2003, 29 people were hospitalized after a construction crew in Heilongjiang inadvertently dug up chemical shells that had been buried deep in the soil more than fifty years ago.
Disbanding and the end of World War II
Information sign at the site today
Ishii had wanted to use biological weapons in the Pacific conflict since May 1944, but his attempts were repeatedly foiled by poor planning and Allied intervention. When it was clear that the war would soon end, Ishii ordered the destruction of the facilities, and told his men "to take the secret to the grave." His Japanese troops blew the compound up in the final days of the war to destroy evidence of their experimentation. They also purposely released all the plague-infected animals. Chemicals were dumped into rivers or buried where they continue to ravage China today.
The United States believed that the research data was valuable because the allies had never conducted this type of human experimentation. Also, the U.S. did not want any other nation, particularly the Soviet Union, to acquire data on biological weapons. Therefore, in exchange for the data, the United States did not charge the officers of Unit 731 with war crimes.
On the other hand, the Soviet Union relentlessly pursued the case and prosecuted several officials from the unit because many Russians were also tortured and experimented upon, along with Mongolians and Koreans. The officials were tried in the Khabarovsk War Crime Trials.
Many former members of Unit 731 became part of the Japanese medical establishment. Dr Kitano Masaji led Japan's largest pharmaceutical company, the Green Cross. Others headed medical schools or worked for the Japanese health ministry.
Politicization of history
Unit 731 activities are denied by right-wing nationalist Japanese historians, who say they are fabrications by Chinese propaganda. Meanwhile left-wing organizations have published histories of Unit 731 that stress the supposed cover-up by the US (in exchange for the data). As with many WWII topics (and the subsequent political debate) references to Unit 731 are omitted from many Japanese history textbooks. Some see this as evidence that, in modern Japan, revisionist history is part of the mainstream, which contributes to the perception that Japan has yet to accept full responsibility for the crimes of its past.
In late 1982, the Government of the People's Republic of China opened the Unit 731 War Crime Exhibition Museum in Harbin.
In 1997, 180 Chinese, either victims or the family of victims of Unit 731, sued the Japanese government for a full disclosure, apology and compensation.
In August 2002, the Tokyo District Court acknowledged the existence of Unit 731 and its biological warfare activities, but ruled that all compensation issues were settled by the Joint Communique of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People's Republic of China of September 29, 1972. However that document only mentions the renunctiation of reparations claims by the Chinese Government, not private individuals.
In 2000, the United States Congress passed the Japanese Imperial Government Disclosure Act to declassify most classified U.S. Government records about war criminals and crimes committed by the Japanese during World War II. As of 2003, this will be done through the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group (IWG).
In 2005, Professor Keiichi Tsuneishi of Kanagawa University found, in the U.S. National Archives, declassified documents showing that the U.S. Government had purchased information gleaned from Unit 731's experiments. The officers in charge of Unit 731 were persuaded to provide the results with money, gifts, entertainment and a waiver of war crimes charges. The motivation for the purchase was the enhancement of the US's own biological warfare program, itself a part of the arms race with the Soviet Union.
Cultural depictions and representations
Japanese author Morimura Seiichi published the book The Devil's Gluttony (悪魔の飽食) in 1981, followed by The Devil's Gluttony - A Sequel in 1983, which were the first Japanese language publications to reveal the dark history of Unit 731.
The Chinese movie Man Behind The Sun is a film about the atrocities committed by Unit 731.
"History of Japan's biological weapons program". In "Federation of American Scientists". 2000-04-16.
Green, Shane. "The Asian Auschwitz of Unit 731". In The Age. 2002-08-29.
"Biochemical Warfare - Unit 731". In "Alliance for Preserving the Truth of Sino-Japanese War (APTSJW)". No date.
"Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group (IWG)". In "National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)". No date.
The trial of Unit 731 By Russell Working, The Japan Times
Japan's sins of the past - from The Guardian.
US paid for Japanese human germ warfare data - from Australian Broadcasting Corportation News Online. 2005-08-15
Gold, Hal. Unit 731 Testimony, Charles E Tuttle Co., 1996. ISBN 4900737399
Williams, Peter. Unit 731: Japan's Secret Biological Warfare in World War II, Free Press, 1989. ISBN 0029353017
Harris, Sheldon H. Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare 1932-45 and the American Cover-Up, Routledge, 1994. ISBN 0415091055 ISBN 0415932149
Endicott, Stephen and Edward Hagerman. The United States and Biological Warfare: Secrets from the Early Cold War and Korea, Indiana University Press, 1999. ISBN 0253334721
Handelman, Stephen and Ken Alibek. Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World--Told from Inside by the Man Who Ran It, Random House, 1999. ISBN 0375502319 ISBN 0385334966
Harris, Robert and Jeremy Paxman. A Higher Form of Killing : The Secret History of Chemical and Biological Warfare, Random House, 2002. ISBN 0812966538
Barnaby, Wendy. The Plague Makers: The Secret World of Biological Warfare, Frog Ltd, 1999. ISBN 1883319854 ISBN 0756756987 ISBN 0826412580 ISBN 082641415X
Edited by superquarterback, 24 August 2005 - 11:52 AM.
Posted 24 August 2005 - 12:02 PM
Kaimingye germ weapon attack
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The Kaimingye germ weapon attack was a Japanese biological warfare bacterial germ strike against Kaimingye, a village near the port of Ningbo in the Chinese province of Zhejiang during 1938 or 1939, during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
These attacks were a joint Unit 731 and Unit 1644 endeavor. Plague was the area of greatest interest to the doctors of the units mentioned above. Six different plague attacks were conducted in China during the war, among them the mentioned agression was the first of these inhumane strikes.
Using airdropped wheat, corn, scraps of cloth and cotton that had been infected with plague, a huge outbreak was started that resulted in over a hundred deaths. The area had to be evacuated and contained with a quarantine that kept the area off limits until the 1960s.
A later attack in 1942 on the same area by the two units led to the development of their final delivery system: airdropped ceramic bombs. Some work was conducted during the war with the use of liquid forms of the pathogen agents but the results were unsatisfactory for the researchers.
Posted 24 August 2005 - 12:20 PM
This WMD Biological Warfare is definitely the worst crime case of systematic biological massacre against Humanity committed by a country in our Human History.
"The fellow knew that it was over for him, and so he didn't struggle." recalled the old former medical assistant of a Japanese Army unit in China in World War II, "But when I picked up the scalpel that's when he began screaming. I cut him open from the chest to the stomach, and he screamed terribly, and his face was all twisted in agony. He made this unimaginable sound, he was screaming so horribly. But then finally he stopped." The former medical assistant who insisted on anonymity, explained the reason for the vivisection. The Chinese prisoner had been deliberately infected with the plague as part of a research project.
Imperial Japan's biological killing fields are a lost chapter of history that the full horror of which is only recently been exposed and understood in all its enormity.
Japan set up Headquarters of Unit 731 in Ping Fan near Harbin and Unit 100 in ChangChun, and Mukden, now called Shenyang, in China to develop plague bombs for use in WWII. The base was disguised as Epidemic Prevention and Water Supply Unit. The complex in Ping Fan was completed in 1939, contained more than 150 buildings, including 2 secret prisons and 3 crematoria, and was the largest WMD Biological Weapon research center in the world.
After infecting him, the researchers decided to cut him open alive, tear him apart, organ by organ, to see what the disease does to a man's inside. Often no anesthetic was used, he said, out of concern that it might have an effect on the results.
From July 1993 to Dec. 1994, the "Unit 731 Exhibition" toured Japan and presented at 61 locations over the course of one and half year. It had sent shockwaves throughout Japan. Hal Gold had collected many testimonies in his book "Unit 731: Testimony; Japan's Wartime Human Experimentation and the Post-War Cover-Up". One of the testimonies was provided by an aged former Japanese doctor Kurumizawa Masakuni :
The Chinese woman victim had regained her consciousness while being vivisected alive.
" She opened her eyes. "
" And then ? "
" She hollered. "
" What did she say ? "
Kurumizawa could not answer, then began weeping feebly and murmured,
" I don't want to think about it again. "
The interviewee apologized, waited a few seconds, and tried again for an answer.
He gave it through sobs.
" She said, "It's all right to kill me, but please spare my child's life."
Japanese Dr. Kanisawa testified in NBC Dateline "Factory of Death: Unit 731" in Aug. 15, 1995, the live un-anesthetized dissection was a routine common practice in all units.
"The 1st time, I was very hesitant to do what I was told to do.
The 2nd time, you get used to it.
The 3rd time, you more or less volunteered."
Yoshio Shinozuka, a former member of Unit 731 said "The first time, my legs were shaking so badly I could hardly stand up". He knew the person on the operating table, " At the vivisection, I could not meet his eyes because of the hate he had in his glare at me."
"We called the victims ‘logs’," he said, "We didn’t want to think of them as people. We didn’t want to admit that we were taking lives. So we convinced ourselves that what we were doing was like cutting down a tree. When you see someone in that state, you just can’t move. Your mind goes blank. The fear is overwhelming." said Yoshio.
The research program was one of the great secrets of Japan during and after World War II : a vast project to develop weapons of WMD Biological Warfare including following deadly diseases :
Anthrax (including inhalation, skin and gastrointestinal types)
Paratyphoid A and B
Epidemic Hemorrhagic Fever
Plant diseases for crop destruction
Dozen other pathogens
Unit 731 & Unit 100 were comprised of over 3,000 researchers and technicians. It was a gigantic research center focused on WMD Biological Weapons - the world's most technically advanced at the time, used human as the guinea pigs, known as marutas (logs). The Japanese told the locals that the facilities were lumber mills.
The Ping Fan facility alone could monthly "manufacture as much as 300 kg of plague bacteria... 500-600 kg of anthrax germs, 800-900 kg typhoid, paratyphoid, or dysentery germs, or as much as 1000 kg of cholera germs." If several different diseases were manufactured simultaneously, then the total production of pathogens could be many times higher.
A former member of Unit 731 testified that "to eliminate any chance of leaking out the secret of construction of the 'Square Buildings' by the laborers, they are all sent to special prison and used as the first batch of test objects."
More than 10,000 Chinese, Korean and Russian PoWs were slaughtered in these biological experiments.
The vivisection was routinely used for practicing various kinds of surgery says Dr. Ken Yuasa, a former Japanese doctor working in China during the War. First an appendectomy, then an amputation of an arm and finally a tracheotomy. When they finished practicing, they killed the victim with an injection. "I was evil. I was a devil," Dr. Ken Yuasa says sadly. "We all were." Morimura Seiichi describes in explicit details of vivisection in his book "The Devouring Monster".
Medical researchers also locked up diseased prisoners with healthy ones, to see how readily various diseases would spread.
To determine how much pressure the body can withstand, some were put inside a pressure chamber would suffer terrible agony before their eyes pop out from their sockets and blood forced out through their skin.
Marutas were denied food or water to determine the maximum length of survival, or mummified alive in total dehydration experiments. Some were put into hot water and gradually increase the temperature to study degree of burns and the relationship between temperature and survival.
To determine the treatment of frostbite, prisoners were taken outside in freezing weather and left with exposed arms, periodically drenched with water until frozen solid. The arm was later amputated, the doctors would repeat the process on the victim's upper arm to the shoulder. After both arms were gone, the doctors moved on to the legs until only a head and torso remained. The victim was then used for plague and pathogens experiments.
Victims were burned with flamethrowers, blown up with shrapnel, bombarded with lethal doses of X-ray, spun to death in centriguges, injected with animal blood, air bubbles, exposure to syphilis, surgical removal of stomachs with the esophagus then attached to the intestines, amputation of arms and reattachment on the opposite side, gassed to death in chambers .......
The doctors experimented on children and babies, even three-day-old baby measuring the temperature with a needle stuck inside the infant's middle finger to keep it straight to prevent the baby's hand clenching into a fist.
Victims were often taken to a proving ground called Anda, where they were tied to stakes and bombarded with test weapons to see how effective the new technologies were. Planes sprayed the zone with a plague culture or dropped bombs with plague-infected fleas to see how many people would die.
White-coated Japanese medics claiming to be from a government epidemic-prevention unit would arrive saying that they were there to implement hygiene measures or to administer vaccinations. After they left, the villages would become sick.
The Japanese army regularly conducted "Field Tests". Planes dropped plague-infected fleas over Ningbo in eastern China and over Changde in north-central China.
Japanese troops dropped cholera and typhoid cultures in water reservoirs, wells and ponds.
Cottony material and feathers coated with anthrax bacteria were used to spread the disease in an airborne manner, as such fibers had been found to be effective in keeping the bacteria alive long enough to reach the intended human victims.
Witnesses recall watching Japanese airplanes dropping a mixture of wheat, millet, soy beans, rice, cotton fibers, paper and fabric cuttings, aerial spraying pathogens over the cities . They all had been coated with the biological organism or with fleas and brought the germs to people.
Japanese distributed infected food, cakes, drink, clothes and children's candies to the locals.
The same mass infections were being repeated all over China.
"Glanders was a disease first found in horses, and it could attack human beings," said Furmanski. Human beings' legs are most affected by the disease. "Only one out of 20 people with the disease could survive.
Medical records showed that glanders had virtually been wiped out in 1906, but new cases suddently broke out in the 1940s during WWII in China."
Apr 18, 1942 U.S. shocked Japan with its daring Tokyo Raid or the Doolittle Raid. Led by Jimmy Doolittle, 16 B-25 bombers broke through Japanese defenses and dropped bombs in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka-Kobe, and Nagoya. It was a one-way mission. The planes continued west to the airfield at Chuchow, China. Short of the fuel, most of planes crashed or were ditched over China. Local Chinese hid U.S. survivors and escorted them to safety.
The dramatic Tokyo Raid stunned Japan with the -- True Meaning of War.
Enraged Japanese army launched Operation Sei-Go to secure airfields and punish Chinese villager for helping US airmen.
Japanese planes had more than 600 air raids on towns and villages of East China. Japanese burnt to the ground those villages through which the airmen had passed.
"They killed my 3 sons," related one aged Chinese man. "They killed my wife. They drowned my grandchildren in the well."
Catching a villager who had sheltered an American pilot, Japanese soldiers wrapped him in a kerosene-soaked blanket, then forced his wife to set it afire.
It was estimated about 250,000 Chinese civilians were murdered in the revenge.
Japanese showered 7 WMD Biological pathogens on Zhejiang province to retaliate the Doolittle Tokyo Raid.
Even today, one hard-hit village in Zhejiang still bears the nickname "Rotten-Leg Village" because so many older residents are scarred by glanders from the 1942 attacks. Their flesh are still rotten and have not been healed since they were attacked - they have been suffering for more than 60 years now.
Sheldon H. Harris, a historian at California State University and author of the book, "Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare 1932-45 and the American Cover-up" stressed that "My calculation, which is very conservative, and based on incomplete sources as the major archives are still closed, is that 10,000 to 12,000 human beings were exterminated in lab experiments".
Outside the 731 prisons, the "Field Tests" were carried out all over China including Manchuria.
Scholars believe that the toll from Japanese-seeded cholera epidemics in the southern province of Yunnan alone may reach the staggering figure of 200,000 killed in May 1942.
3 months later, another 200,000 die in Shandong province as a result of Unit 731’s germ warfare.
In the Zhejiang province city of Quzhou alone, over 50,000 perished from bubonic plague and cholera .............
As the war was ending, Japanese purposely released all the plague-infected animals. The Northeastern China immediately became a disaster area and caused outbreaks of plague that killed at least another 30,000 people from 1946 - 1948.
It is also called by some as the Asian Auschwitz of Unit 731.
In 1987, based on first-hand reports of the atrocities, filmmaker T.F. Mou (sometimes referred to as T.F. Mous) is probably best known as the director of the infamous Man Behind the Sun (or Black Sun 731). He followed up later with another travelogue of Japanese war atrocities: Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre.
" There could be over 700,000 or even 1,000,000" lives lost to Japan's biowarfare program" said Daniel Barenblatt, author of new book A Plague Upon Humanity: The Secret Genocide of Axis Japan's Germ Warfare Operation.
These crimes are more than parallel to the coeval work of Joseph Mengele and the Nazi doctors.
Japanese military scientists killed 12 times the number of civilians as did the Nazi's Angel of Death - Dr. Josef Mengele.
Nazi doctors were held accountable for their crimes in the famous 1947 "Nuremberg Doctors Trials", but there were NO comparable "Japanese Doctors Trials".
The research was kept secret after the war in part because the U.S. granted immunity from war crimes prosecution to the Japanese doctors in exchange for their data and helped covering up the human experiment - An act utterly ignoring international laws and against Humanity.
On May 6 1947, in a radio message to Washington, MacArthur urged the combined US military and State Department group which supervised occupation policy in Japan to give "In Writing" immunity to Ishii and all others involved in the Japanese Germ Warfare and Human experiments.
On Dec 27 1949, MacArthur’s Headquarters announced to the world "that the Japanese had done some experimentation with animals, but that there was no evidence they ever had used human beings."
NGO The Sunshine Project has discovered that even today US is still actively developing Biological and Chemical Weapon. On 24 Sept. 2002 Sunshine Project provides evidence for US Military Secret Chemical Weapons Program violating international law.
U.S. itself in 1943 also set up a major Biological Warfare program with 3,500 people at Camp Detrick, now Fort Detrick, in Frederic, MD. Instead of putting the ringleaders on trial, U.S. gave them stipends to gain some advantages in the WMD Biological Weapon.
On Aug. 13, 1985, British Independent Televison broadcast a documentary "Unit 731 - Did the Emperor Know ? ". It was producted by Peter Williams and David Wallace after years research, hinted broadly that Emperor Hirohito was aware of the human experiments. There was also an interview with retired Lt. Col. Murray Sanders, the first US investigator into Unit 731. Sanders claimed that Gen. Douglas MacArthur authorized him to make a deal with the Japanese if they cooperated with US Biological Warfare scientists.
The producers even sent a copy of the documentary film to the Japanese officials in London.
Murray Sanders was also interviewed by NBC Dateline "Factory of Death: Unit 731" in Aug. 15, 1995 said "It was a mistake for the criminal Japanese to have been pardoned."
William and Wallace also published the book " Unit 731: The Japanese Army's Secret of Secrets". For some reason, a chapter was omitted from the American edition. The chapter was titled " Korea War". They examined evidences from the International Scientific Commission for the Facts Concerning Bacterial Warfare in Korea and supported the theory of US-Japanese culpability of using Unit 731's germ techniques in Korean War.
The same conclusion was also reached by Professor Stephen Endicott and Edward Hagerman, author of 1998 book "The United States and Biological Warfare: Secrets from the early cold war and Korea", that "United States had an operational biological weapons system, and that it was employed in the Korea War."
Takai Matsumura, Japanese historian and economist at Tokyo's Keio University, said Japanese WMD Biological Warfare experiments were conducted in at least 10 other cities in China, including Hailar, Harbin, ChangChun, SunYang, Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, as well as Singapore, Burma, Rangoon, Bangkok, possibly in Manila, East Indies.
Killing Place Japanese WMD
Beijing Unit 1855
Nanjing Tama Unit 1644
Harbin Unit 731
ChangChun Unit 100
Shenyang (Mukden) Unit 100
Hailar Unit 2646 (Unit 80)
Shanghai Unit ?
Guangzhou (Canton) Nami Unit 8604
Singapore Oka Unit 9420
Burma Unit ?
Rangoon Unit ?
Bangkok Unit ?
Manila Unit ?
East Indies Unit ?
There were minimum 26 known Japan's killing laboratories in China.
U.S. silence on this issue has allowed the Japanese Government to maintain that there is not enough evidence to prove that the Chinese are telling the truth. When Japanese journalists and academics have stumbled over crucial validating evidence in government archives, the material has been confiscated and re-classified.
However, 2 declassified U.S. government documents, recently found in the U.S. National Archives by professor Keiichi Tsuneishi at Kanagawa University and an expert on WMD Biological and Chemical Weapons, have clearly showed that the U.S. provided money, food, gifts, entertainment and other kinds of rewards to the former Unit 731 members, 2 years after the end of WWII to obtain data on human experiments conducted in China, according to the report.
When neither Japan nor U.S. are prepared to admit to either the crimes or cover-up, a small group of conscientious Japanese human rights activists, doctors, lawyers and former soldiers formed an un-precedented alliance with the Chinese.
Senior Japanese lawyers are acting for the Chinese, among them Tsuchiya Koken, the former president of the Japanese Lawyers Association. Few old Japanese soldiers who worked on the biological warfare programme have also come forward to give evidence. Their stance exposes themselves to abuse at home and accusations from ultra-nationalists that they are traitors.
"The brutality my parents generation committed in the name of war has to be resolved and addressed by my generation." said Keichiro Ichinose, one of the Japanese lawyers.
In June 1996, they formed the Association to Reveal the Historical Fact of Germ Warfare by the Japanese Armed Forces.
In 1997, 108 survivors and family members, including Wu Shi-Gen, filed a lawsuit against the Japanese Government demanding apology and 10 million yen compensation per victim of biological weapons and acts of brutality. The thousands of victims included 2,100 civilians, whose personal details have been verified in China.
In October 1940, Japanese warplanes that had passed over Wu Shi-Gen's village in Quzhou, southern China, but the bombs dropped did not explode. From them poured a mixture of rice and wheat covered with fleas. Few days later, many villagers were struck down by sickness. His 9 year old brother had bubonic plague.
It is an agonising disease glands swell to the size of grapefruit, limbs fill with fluid and whole areas of flesh turn deep purple. Eventually, victims die screaming. The plague killed his two-year-old sister, too.
Ms. Wang Xuan is called by some as " The Joan of Arc of China". She was interviewed by PBS and BBC for their documentary films, including: "Unit 731: Nightmare in Manchuria", "Rotten Foot Village" and the most recent "Avoiding Armageddon".
She used to live in rural village called Yiwu on China's east coast. She shows visitors the Tragedy Pavilion which lists 1,500 plague victims, and describes how Unit 731 dropped plague-infected fleas from aircraft and killed 20 villagers a day at one point in 1942. She then leads visitors through the gray-brick Buddhist temple where the Japanese performed autopsies to gauge the impact of their biological tests.
Ms. Wang has assembled 180 Chinese victims and is now suing Japan, charging that Japan had spread bubonic plague and other diseases in China during WWII. However, in 2002, Tokyo District Court rejected their claim for an apology and compensation.
Eisuke Matsui, Japanese Professor of radiology at Gifu University school of Medicine, said he was compelled to uncover Japan's germ warfare in order to educate the young generation of Japan.
Japanese military training leader of Unit 731, Tomobuchi testifed in NBC Dateline Aug. 15, 1995 "Factory of Death: Unit 731" that he participated in July 1945, in training kamikaze pilots for "Sakura at Night" (flowers at night), a secret military plan to use five submarines, each carrying few small aircraft to the California coast where they would attack San Diego with "plague bombs" full of infected fleas.
"They were logs to me," said Toshimi Mizobuchi remorselessly, former Unit 731 member and now a real estate manager living outside the Japanese city of Kobe, "Logs were not considered to be human. They were either spies or conspirators." As such, he said, "they were already dead. So now they die a second time. We just executed a death sentence." He said reunion for the several hundred veterans of Unit 731 was held almost every year. He had organized one of the reunion.
As the war was ending, Japan waited and intended to use plague germs if American had landed on Okinawa. Ironically, Okinawa themselves never knew the plan until Jan. 1994 when the Unit 731 Exhibition opened there. Ito Kageaki recalled, " Okinawa could be thrown away if Japan could gain some military advantage." One local said, "This makes the sacrifices in the Okinawa Battle even more pitiful."
Okinawa Battle had killed approx. 100,000 Japanese soldiers (including local Okinawa conscripts), 12,000 US soldiers, and 100,000 - 150,000 Okinawans civilians. About 1/3 of the population of island were killed. Total death in the Battle of Okinawa is more than the Atomic Bombs of Nagasaki and Hiroshima combined.
An military order was also issued by the Japanese commander of the 32nd Army Headquarters: "Only standard Japanese is to be spoken. Anyone speaking the Okinawan dialect is to be executed as a spy." The Okinawan culture were oppressed and people were forced into the war by Japan.
Japanese historian Ishihara Masaie has pointed out the following factors contributing to the unusual high Okinawa civilian deaths by Japanese Army :
Okinawa civilians were tortured and killed as spies by Japanese.
Okinawa civilians were forced or made believed into "Group Suicides" (shűdan jiketsu). They were brain-washed and believed they would be tortured, raped and killed if fall into the hands of enemy. They either took their own lives directly with the distributed hand grenades, cyanide, jumped off the Suicide Cliff, or were killed by family member, close relative or friend as part of a group effort at self-annihilation.
It was for this reason that Japanese historian Ienaga Saburo argued that number of Okinawa civilians killed by the Japanese Army should also included the large number of "Group Suicides".
Kinjo Shigeaki, an Okinawa boy who had just turned 16 at war time, describes a typical scene in the book "Japan at War: An Oral History". He described a man "had that stick in his hands, he turned into a madman. Striking his wife and children over and over again, bludgeoning them to death. That was the beginning of the tragedy I saw. As if by a chain reaction, it spread from one family to the next. We all must die that way. Everyone seemed to think so. People began to raise their hands against their loved ones......."
"My memory tells me the first one we laid hands on was Mother. Those who had blades, or scythes, cut their wrists or severed arteries in their necks. Be we didn't do it that way. We might have used a string. When we raised our hands against the mother who bore us, we wailed in our grief. I remember that. In the end we must have used stones. To the head. We took care of mother that way. Then my brother and I turned on our younger sister. Hell engulfed us there........"
When the Battle of Okinawa was ending, no wonder the surrender of large numbers of Japanese soldiers was so shocking to the Okinawa civilians in disbelief.
Okinawa civilians were driven out of their shelters by Japanese army.
Okinawa civilians were robbed of their food by Japanese army.
Japanese soldiers poisoned, stabbed, or strangled many small Okinawa children to death to prevent their noise of alerting US forces to their locations. Japanese soldier often pointed rifle at Okinawan mother and ordered her to kill her baby.
Okinawa civilians were forced evacuations to malaria-infested areas by Japanese.
Japanese moved their military command posts to areas occupied by the Okinawa civilian evacuees.
In 1981, an article Japan's Biological Weapons: 1930-1945 A Hidden Chapter in History published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists had drawn much wider public attention to the Japanese inhuman atrocities. In the beginning of the article, it said,
"When this story first reached the Bulletin, our reaction was horrified disbelief. I think all of us hoped that it was not true. Unfortunately, subsequent research shows that it is all too true. In order to verify the facts set forth here we enlisted the help of a number of distinguished scientists and historians......."
The article continues, ""Any reader with a sense of justice and decency will be nauseated, not only by these atrocities, but equally so by the reaction of the U.S...... By acquiring "at a fraction of the original cost" the "invaluable" results of the Japanese experiments, have we not put ourselves on the same level as the Japanese experimenters ?......."
In Oct. 1999, in a Letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein for the Bill S.9102 , i.e. the Disclosure Act of Japanese War Crime Documents, History Professor Sheldon H. Harris of California State University emphatically stated in his letter that :
The ""sensitive" documents as defined by archivists and FOIA officers are at the moment being destroyed...... Three examples of this wanton destruction......" by U.S.
"In 1991, the Librarian at Dugway Proving Grounds, Dugway, Utah, denied me access to the archives at the facility. It was only through the intervention of then U.S. Representative Wayne Owens, Dem., Utah, that I was given permission to visit the facility. I was not shown all the holdings relating to Japanese medical experiments, but the little I was permitted to examine revealed a great deal of information about medical war crimes. Sometimes after my visit, a person with intimate knowledge of Dugway's operations, "informed me that "sensitive" documents were destroyed there as a direct result of my research in their library."
"I conducted much of my American research at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md. The Public Information Officer there was extremely helpful to me. Two weeks ago I telephoned Detrick, was informed that the PIO had retired last May. I spoke with the new PIO, who told me that Detrick no longer would discuss past research activities, but would disclose information only on current projects. Later that day I telephoned the retired PIO at his home. He "informed me that upon retiring he was told to "get rid of that stuff", meaning incriminating documents relating to Japanese medical war crimes. Detrick no longer is a viable research center for historians."
"Within the past 2 weeks, "I was informed that the Pentagon, for "space reasons", decided to rid itself of all biological warfare documents in its holdings prior to 1949. The date is important, because all war crimes trials against accused Japanese war criminals were terminated by 1949. Thus, current Pentagon materials could not implicate alleged Japanese war criminals. Fortunately, a private research facility in Washington volunteered to retrieve the documents in question. This research facility now holds the documents, is currently cataloguing them (estimated completion time, at least twelve months), and is guarding the documents under "tight security".
"After 60 years, we are still finding positive antibodies of bubonic plague in rats, dogs, cats and other animals. Every year a certain number of healthy people develop typhoid. Japan's Germ Warfare has left behind problems that still threaten our lives." said Qiu Mingxuan, a Chinese doctor, "Environmental pollution and damage to the ecosystem are very serious. The issue is still threatening people in China."
Fears of another outbreak still haunt the Chinese cities.
Daniel Barenblatt, author of new book "A Plague Upon Humanity: The Secret Genocide of Axis Japan's Germ Warfare Operation", said in a recent interview, " There could be over 700,000 or even 1,000,000 lives lost to Japan’s Bio-Warfare programme.... The plague bacteria released then still lingers on in some animal populations today. It is still there.... rodents still test positive for antibodies to the bubonic plague .... What the US did in making the deal with top doctors is unconscionable. As far as we know, no one in the US government raised any more objection to it."
In Aug. 2002, after 27 court hearings since 1998, and with former Unit 731 Japanese soldiers including Yoshio Shinozuka, came forward as witnesses, Japanese court had no choice and finally recognized for the FIRST TIME that Japan had conducted Biological Warfare in China during WWII. even though the Court has confirmed the existence of "Unit 731" that developed bacteriological weapons. But the court rejected the demand for apology and compensation.
Contrarily, the Japanese government still refuses to recognize that its army ever waged Biological Warfare saying lack of evidence.
Apr 19, 2005 Pointing to the Nazi Concentration Camp of Auschwitz in Poland and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in Japan as precedents for UNESCO protection of war ruins, China would seek UNESCO World Heritage protection for the ruins of a Japanese WMD Biological Warfare center of Unit 731 in Harbin, including its laboratories, prisons and crematoria used for experiments on humans to develop WMD Biological Weapons.
Jul 10, 2005 Evidence of vast plant that Japan used PoWs as human guinea pigs in WMD Chemical and Biological Warfare found in remote grasslands of Inner Mongolia, China. "It covers an area of 40 square miles. It may be the largest and best-preserved gas experiment site in the world ..... Japan conducted WMD Chemical and WMD Germ Warfare in 2/3 of the country, but especially in the north, north-east and south of China," said Mr Jin Chengmin. "It should be qualified for World Heritage status. The ruins serve as a permanent reminder of the atrocities Japanese troops committed in China."
Edited by superquarterback, 24 August 2005 - 02:38 PM.
Posted 24 August 2005 - 12:51 PM
August 29 2002
After releasing plague bacilli in the Chinese city of Yiwu, Unit 731 extracted the bacilli from patients' internal organs.
It was a secret Japanese military unit that used Chinese prisoners for gruesome medical experiments. Years later, Japanese authorities are still in denial. Shane Green reports.
The noise was like the sound when a board is struck. On the frozen fields at Ping Fang, in north-east China, chained prisoners were led out with bare arms, and subjected to a current of air to accelerate the freezing process. Then came the noise. With a short stick, the arms of the prisoners would be struck to make sure their limbs had indeed frozen.
In the gruesome world of Unit 731 of the Japanese Imperial Army, experiments with frostbite on human subjects became a favourite in a macabre litany of cruelty. Throughout the 1930s and '40s, until the end of World War II, the secret unit used Manchuria as a killing field. It was a case of science gone truly mad for the greater glory of the divine Emperor and Japan.
Apart from the frostbite experiments, prisoners were infected with diseases including anthrax, cholera and the bubonic plague. To gather data, human vivisections were performed. Whole villages and towns were infected with the plague and cholera.
In the end, at least 3000 prisoners, mainly Chinese, were killed directly, with a further 250,000 Chinese left to die through the biological warfare experiments.
It is called the Asian Auschwitz and, in terms of inhumanity and horror, it certainly warrants this description. Yet there remains a fundamental difference with the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis against Jews. While Germany has shown deep contrition and remorse, the leaders of the country that spawned the evil of Unit 731 still struggle to come to grips with what occurred.
This week in a Tokyo court, the world was again reminded of Japan's inability to deal with its march across Asia. In courtroom 103, three judges of the Tokyo District Court rejected a claim for an apology and compensation by 180 Chinese, either victims or the family of victims of Unit 731.
If there was anything positive out of the decision for the Chinese, it was that for the first time, a Japanese court had acknowledged that Unit 731 and other units had engaged in "cruel and inhumane" biological warfare in China, costing many lives.
But that was it. The judges claimed there was no legal basis for the plaintiffs' claim, as all compensation issues were settled by a treaty with China in 1972.
While it had an authoritative legal ring to it, there was a deep sense of injustice around the courtroom and among supporters waiting outside. How could a court acknowledge a crime had been committed, yet fail to do anything about it?
The Chinese are planning to appeal, but regardless of what may come out of that, one positive factor to emerge from this case has been that the international community - and, indeed, the Japanese themselves - has been reminded of one of the darkest hours of the Japanese Imperial Army.
Unit 731 was the creation of a brutal psychopath, Lieutenant-General Ishii Shiro. His perverted imagination was captured by the possibilities of biological and chemical warfare, and in the Japan of the 1920s and '30s, he found supporters in the increasingly nationalistic and fanatical military.
Part of his fame came from the invention of a water filter that would be used by the Japanese military in the field. Yet even this innocuous invention had a connection with the grossness of Ishii's character. He once reportedly demonstrated the effectiveness of the filter to Emperor Hirohito by urinating through it, and offering the result to the Hirohito to drink. The Emperor declined, so Ishii drank it himself.
Water purification was also to have a link with the grisly activities of Unit 731. The official cover name for the unit was the Water Purification Bureau.
This latest court case, which began in 1997, has revealed much about the operations of the unit. One of the most harrowing testimonies has come from a former member of the unit, Yoshio Shinozuka, who has declared his remorse, and has vowed to tell the truth about the atrocities committed in China.
Shinozuka revealed in horrific detail what occurred at the unit headquarters in Ping Fang, just outside Harbin in northern China. The Chinese victims were known as "logs", and it was Shinozuka's job to scrub them down before the vivisection.
"I still remember clearly the first live autopsy I participated in," he recalled. "I knew the Chinese individual we dissected alive because I had taken his blood once before for testing. At the vivisection, I could not meet his eyes because of the hate he had in his glare at me."
The victim had been infected with the plague, and was totally black. Shinozuka was reluctant to use the brush on the man's face. "Watching me, the chief pathologist, with scalpel in hand, impatiently signalled me to hurry up," he recalled. "I closed my eyes and forced myself to scrub the man's face with the deck brush. The chief pathologist listened to the man's heartbeat with his stethoscope and then the procedure started."
The case before the Tokyo court also heard from the victims, and family of the victims, in villages and towns infected by the plague and cholera between 1940 and 1942.
Peize Xue was a young boy in Jiangshan when the Japanese infected the area with cholera. He recalled how his sister's three children had been struck down: "The three little ones died such tragic deaths. They were poisoned by the Japanese army," she sobbed. "Before Shuanglan (aged eight) passed away, she asked me, lying limply on her bed, to build a small casket for her."Sixty years on, these testimonies have a powerful and revelatory impact, in part because the activities of Unit 731 and related units remained forgotten until relatively recently. It was only in 1981 that international attention refocused on these awful events when an American journalist, John W. Powell junior, published A Hidden Chapter in History, alleging an American cover-up. Since then, academics and journalists have built an impressive case that details how Ishii and other key players received immunity from prosecution in return for supplying their research to American scientists.
In his authoritative Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare 1932-45, and the American Cover-up, Sheldon Harris recounts that the matter was raised only once at the Tokyo war crimes tribunal in 1946-48.
An American counsel assisting the Chinese, David N. Sutton, stunned the war crimes tribunal by saying: "The enemy . . . took our countrymen as prisoners and used them for drug experiments. They would inject various types of toxic bacteria into their bodies, and then perform experiments on how they reacted . . . this was an act of barbarism by our enemy."
According to the book, the presiding chief judge, Australia's Sir William Webb, asked: "Are you trying to tell us about a poison liquid being administered? Are you trying to provide more evidence? This is a new fact that you have presented before we judges."
The writer Sheldon Harris says that after a brief pause, Webb said: "How about letting this item go?" Sutton replied: "Well, then, I'll leave it." The issue never surfaced again, Harris writes.
Would things have been different if Allied soldiers were involved? There have always been suspicions and allegations that this happened at Camp Mukden in China, where Allied prisoners - including Australians - were held. Yet Sheldon, in his extensive research that contains many examples of the unit's activities, such as the frostbite experiments, was unable to find "substantive evidence" of this.
The immunity granted to those in Unit 731 saw the doctors involved return to mainstream Japanese society. In 1989, the now-defunct Japanese magazine Days Japan revealed how those who had escaped prosecution had gone on to take some of the most prestigious positions in the Japanese medical community.
The man who succeeded Ishii Shiro as commander of Unit 731, Dr Masaji Kitano, became head of Japan's largest pharmaceutical company, the Green Cross. Others took up posts heading university medical schools, and also worked in the Japanese healthministry.
This may in part explain the difficulty in confronting and acknowledging the activities of Unit 731, let alone compensating the victims. It is perhaps important to also distinguish between the response of the Japanese Government and the Japanese people.
Waiting in the long line this week to get into the courtroom, Kazuyo Yamane struck up a conversation. She lectures in peace studies at Japan's Kochi University, and had come to hear the decision because of a deep personal interest.
Yamane and other like-minded Japanese travelled to China in 1998 to find out more about the activities of Unit 731. "Because we didn't have any means to know what really happened, we decided to go and try to know what really happened," she says.
They spoke to people who had lost family members because of the biological warfare experiments. "We felt really guilty as Japanese," she says. As a result, the group decided to support the Chinese in their action.
Yamane believes that the Japanese Government should apologise and compensate the victims of the "terrible damage" done during the war in Asia. "That's what we citizens think. But I think there is a huge gap between the citizens and the Japanese Government.
"I think maybe now Japan is getting nationalistic, and the right-wingers are getting stronger."
In the only official comment on the day of the decision, the Japanese Justice Ministry said the court's decision verified the validity of the Japanese Government's position in refusing compensation and an apology to the victims of Unit 731.
Shane Green is The Age's Tokyo correspondent.
Posted 24 August 2005 - 01:01 PM
a half century of denial
Some of the most gruesome atrocities of World War II - medical experiments on Chinese, Russian and American prisoners - were committed in China by Japan's infamous Unit 731.
Fifty Years later, the Japanese continue to deny or minimize this part of their wartime record, refused demands for a clear apology. The cover-up was assisted by the United States in the postwar years. Rather than allow Unit 731 research on biological warfare to fall into Soviet hands, America shielded some of the war's worst criminals in exchange for their knowledge. Today, victims of the experiments are at last seeking compensation in the courts.
Unit 731's sprawling headquarters were at Pingfan - completed with airport, railway stations and dungeons - on the outskirts of Harbin. Retreating Japanese troops burned down most of Pingfan in an attempt to destroy evidence, but even today, a local factory still fires up in incinerator where victims of medical experiments - at least 3,000 men, women and children - were disposed of. A dank cellar eerily suggests the thousand of white rats once bred there as carrier of bubonic plague and whose release at the war's end killed thousands of local Chinese in an epidemic.
On a sunny day in June this year, on the steps of cellar, Han Xiao, Chinas leading expert on Unit 731, confirmed what the Department of Veterans Affairs has long denied: that American POWs in Mukden (Shenyang) were injected in 1943 with various bacteria to test their immunity. Most survived, but many died.
Breaking Silence. A member of Unit 731, Nobuo Kamada, speaking on the record for the first time, told U.S. News that his main job at Pingfan was to breed plague bacteria. "We would inject the most powerful bacteria into rats. On a 500-gram rat, we would attach 3,000 fleas. When the rats were released, the fleas would transmit the disease." Infected rats and fleas were also loaded into special porcelain bombs designed to keep the rats alive as they descended on a parachute from an airplane. But it was the human experiments, more than horrible weaponry, that distinguished Pingfan. Once, in an operation aimed at extracting plague-infected organs, which Kamada still finds it difficult to talk about, Kamada took a scalpel with no anastethic, to a Chinese prisoner, or "log," as the Japanese euphemistically called their victims. "I inserted the scalpel directly from the log's neck and opened the chest," he told an Japanese interviewer, at the time anonymously. "At first there was a terrible scream, but the voice soon fell silent."
Sometimes the logs had to be prepared: "Unless you work with a healthy body, you can't get results. So if we had a spy who was unhealthy . . . we would feed him good food and make him exercise. It was the height of cruelty."
Kamada's long silence about Unit 731 was shared almost universally by other former members. "Everyone was still alive. And the doctors were making contributions to medical studies. I thought it was best to stay silent for the sake of the nation," he says.
Indeed, Japanese leading medical schools had assigned doctors to Unit 731. They returned as pillars of the postwar medical establishment, as deans of medical schools and head of pharmaceutical companies. Lt. Gen. Masaji Kitano, who served as commander of Unit 731 near the end of the war, went on to the director of Green Cross Corp., a leading maker of blood products founded by another Unit 731 veteran. Today, a bizarre stone memorial that Kitano erected in honor of his experimental rats still stand in a disused rat cellar in China. It was more courtesy than he showed the victims of his experiments, who were euphemistically referred to as "monkeys" in published scientific papers. The Shenyang medical school still has hundreds of slides of human brain cross sections, some of which were used in papers published by Sendai University with open references to the use of "fresh human brains." Prof. Keiichi Tsuneishi, a Japanese historian of science, pieced together much of the Unit 731 story from scientific papers published by doctors, many of whom later agreed to speak to him. "They have no sense of remorse at all," he says. Instead, the doctors complained of wasting the best years of their lives on medical research that could not be continued after the war.
These attitudes have contributed to a collective amnesia in Japan toward war atrocities. Still, the truth keeps seeping out. One example: Japanese right-wingers typically deny the Nanjing massacre of 1937-38, in which marauding troops slaughtered some 200,000 Chinese. A secret report from the defunct Japanese South Manchuria Railroad Co. recently came to light detailing some results of the massacre.
Professor Tsuneishi says that the death of Emperor Hirohito 1989 has made it easier for veterans to speak openly. Even so, reverence for the emperor's brother, Prince Mikasa, learned of the human experiments when visiting Pingfan in 1943, and it is almost inconceivable that the emperor, who signed the order founding Unit 731, was unaware of the true nature of the work.
Indeed, recent historical research suggests that the emperor had a considerable greater hand in directly managing the conduct of the war and delaying the peace than had been thought. When Mac Arthur spared Hirohito from prosecuting in the interests of stability, he inadvertently blocked Japanese efforts to know and face their own past.
by Steven Butler in Tokyo
Edited by superquarterback, 24 August 2005 - 01:03 PM.
Posted 24 August 2005 - 01:15 PM
Published: Aug. 13, 1995
1925 -- Geneva Convention governing wartime conduct bans biological weapons. Japan refuses to approve treaty.
1932 -- Japanese troops invade Manchuria. Shiro Ishii, a physician and army officer who was intrigued by germ warfare, begins preliminary experiments.
1936 -- Unit 731, a biological-warfare unit disguised as a water-purification unit, is formed. Ishii builds huge compound -- more than 150 buildings over six square kilometers -- outside the city of Harbin. Some 9,000 test subjects, which Ishii and his peers called ''logs,'' eventually die at the compound.
1942 -- Ishii begins field tests of germ warfare on Chinese soldiers and civilians. Tens of thousands die of bubonic plague, cholera, anthrax and other diseases. U.S. soldiers captured in Philippines are sent to Manchuria.
1945 -- Japanese troops blow up the headquarters of Unit 731 in final days of Pacific war. Ishii orders 150 remaining ''logs'' killed to cover up their experimentation. Gen. Douglas MacArthur is named commander of the Allied powers in Japan.
1946 -- U.S. coverup of secret deal with Ishii and Unit 731 leaders -- germ warfare data based on human experimentation in exchange for immunity from war-crimes prosecution -- begins in earnest. Deal is concluded two years later.
1981 -- John Powell, a former publisher of a Shanghai magazine who was unsuccessfully tried for sedition in the early 1950s after accusing the United States of using germ warfare in Korea, exposes immunity deal in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
1985 -- Dr. Murray Sanders, a former lieutenant colonel who was a U.S. adviser on biological warfare, claims that he persuaded MacArthur to approve the immunity deal in the fall of 1945.
1986 -- Congressional subcommittee holds one-day hearing in Washington, called by Rep. Pat Williams of Montana, aimed at determining whether U.S. prisoners of war in Manchuria were victims of germ-warfare experimentation. Hearing is inconclusive.
Sources: ''Factories of Death,'' by Sheldon H. Harris (Routledge, 1994); and ''Prisoners of the Japanese: POWS of World War II in the Pacific,'' by Gavan Daws (William Morrow, 1994).
News provided by Global Alliance for Preserving the History of World War II in Asia
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