Thursday, October 16, 2014



Unit 731 General Facts

Most of us heard about the horrible experiments on humans of the Nazis done by doctor Mengele. But the Nazis weren’t alone in conducting cruel experiments on humans.
One of the lesser known atrocities of the 20th century was committed by the Imperial Japanese Army’s Unit 731. Some of the details of this unit’s activities are still uncovered. This webpage was set up to collect and organize the information known to date about Unit 731 and present it to anyone interested.
For 40 years, the horrific activities of "Unit 731" remained one the most closely guarded secrets of World War II. It was not until 1984 that Japan acknowledged what it had long denied - vile experiments on humans conducted by the unit in preparation for germ warfare.
Deliberately infected with plague, anthrax, cholera and other pathogens, an estimated 3,000 of enemy soldiers and civilians were used as guinea pigs. Some of the more horrific experiments included vivisection without anesthesia and pressure chambers to see how much a human could take before his eyes popped out.
Unit 731 complexUnit 731 was set up in 1938 in Japanese-occupied China with the aim of developing biological weapons. It also operated a secret research and experimental school in Shinjuku, central Tokyo. Its head was Lieutenant Shiro Ishii.
The unit was supported by Japanese universities and medical schools which supplied doctors and research staff. The picture now emerging about its activities is horrifying. According to reports never officially admitted by the Japanese authorities, the unit used thousands of Chinese and other Asian civilians and wartime prisoners as human guinea pigs to breed and develop killer diseases.
Many of the prisoners, who were murdered in the name of research, were used in hideous vivisection and other medical experiments, including barbaric trials to determine the effect of frostbite on the human body.
Manchurian - Plague victims (1910-1911)To ease the conscience of those involved, the prisoners were referred to not as people or patients but as "Maruta", or wooden logs. Before Japan’s surrender, the site of the experiments was completely destroyed, so that no evidence is left.
Then, the remaining 400 prisoners were shot and employees of the unit had to swear secrecy. The mice kept in the laboratory were then released, which could have cost the lives of 30,000 people, since the mice were infected with the bubonic plague, and they spread the disease.
Few of those involved with Unit 731 have admitted their guilt.
Some caught in China at the end of the war were arrested and detained, but only a handful of them were prosecuted for war crimes.
In Japan, not one was brought to justice. In a secret deal, the post-war American administration gave them immunity for prosecution in return for details of their experiments.
Some of the worst criminals, including Hisato Yoshimura, who was in charge of the frostbite experiments, went on to occupy key medical and other posts in public and private sectors.

War Atrocity

Published: March 17, 1995
He is a cheerful old farmer who jokes as he serves rice cakes made by his wife, and then he switches easily to explaining what it is like to cut open a 30-year-old man who is tied naked to a bed and dissect him alive, without anesthetic.
"The fellow knew that it was over for him, and so he didn't struggle when they led him into the room and tied him down," recalled the 72-year-old farmer, then a medical assistant in 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. This was all in a day's work for the surgeons, but it really left an impression on me because it was my first time."
Finally the old man, 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 -- the full horror of which is only now emerging -- to develop plague bombs for use in World War II. After infecting him, the researchers decided to cut him open to see what the disease does to a man's inside. No anesthetic was used, he said, out of concern that it might have an effect on the results.
SoldiersBut the Unit was not only infamous for its vivisections. Some prisoners sent to Unit 731 were taken outside and tied to stakes. The Japanese would then test new biological weapons such as plague cultures or bombs filled with plague-infested fleas on them.
Other studies involved exposing human guinea pigs, called 'logs' by the Japanese scientists, to their limits. Humans were locked inside pressure chambers to test how much the body could take before their eyes popped out.
Some human test subjects were taken outside during the harsh winter until their limbs froze off for the doctors to experiment how best to treat frostbite.
Unit 731 Cold experiment

Since the Japanese army used poison gas during the war, one of the Unit 731’s mission was to develop a more potent poison gas, thus prisoners were subjected to poisoning.
In 1984, a graduate student at Keio Medical University in Tokyo found records of human experiments in a bookstore. The pages described the effects of massive dosages of tetanus vaccine. There were tables describing the length of time it took victims to die and recorded the muscle spasms in their bodies.
At least 3,000 people, not just Chinese but also Russians, Mongolians and Koreans, died from the experiments performed by Unit 731 between 1939 and 1945. No prisoner came out alive of the Unit’s gates.
During the war, the Japanese Imperial Army used biological weapons developed and manufactured by Unit 731's laboratory in Harbin throughout China, killing or injuring an estimated 300,000 people.


For its part, the Japanese government did not acknowledge the existence of Unit 731 until recently. When it became apparent that Japan would be defeated, Japanese soldiers destroyed the headquarters of Unit 731.
The Chinese later rebuilt some of the main buildings and began setting up a museum in 1982.
Eight years ago, 180 Chinese victims and families of victims sued the Japanese government, demanding an apology, compensation and a full disclosure of Unit 731's activities. Last month, the Tokyo High Court acknowledged the existence of Unit 731 but upheld a lower court ruling that denied the plaintiffs compensation.
None of the Japanese scientists in Unit 731 was ever punished.
General Douglas MacArthurIn 1946, US General Douglas MacArthur granted all the Japanese scientists immunity from war crimes prosecution in exchange for the germ warfare data gathered from experiments in Harbin.
As explained in an internal War Department memorandum, dated June 23, 1947: "Since it is believed that the USSR possesses only a small portion of the technical information, and since any war-crimes action would completely reveal such data to all nations, it is felt that such publicity must be avoided in the interests of defense and security of the U.S.
It is believed also that the war-crimes prosecution of Gen. Ishii and his associates would serve to stop the flow of much additional information of a technical and scientific nature."
Gen. Ishii lived on the outskirts of Tokyo until his death in 1959. Other "graduates" of Unit 731 include the former governor of Tokyo, the former president of the Japan Medical Association, the former director of the health ministry's preventive health research centre, the former chairman and president of Green Cross Corp. and the past heads of a number of Japanese medical schools. The man in charge of vivisections, Yoshisuke Murata, became director of the respected Kyoto University medical school, and later medical director at Kinki University.
In 1981, a fictionalized work by journalist Seiichi Morimura was published called Gluttonous Devils, which was based in part on interviews with surviving Japanese who worked at the laboratory. It was filled with accounts of victims being subjected to freezing, high pressure and

Yoshio Shinozuka

As all the prisoners of Unit 731 were killed, and the employees swore secrecy about the experiments, first-hand testimonies are very hard to come by.
Yoshio Shinozuka, 69, of Yokaichi City, east of Tokyo, was a 15-year-old Imperial Army Youth Corps cadet when he was assigned to Unit 731 in Manchuria in May, 1939. He stayed with the unit until August, 1943.
After the war, he remained with an active unit in China, was arrested there in 1952 along with other former Unit 731 members and detained until 1956 without being prosecuted.
He said he had been assigned to a germ-producing section of Unit 731 which had experimented mostly with rats, and also had been involved with epidemic prevention research.
From time to time, more experienced Youth Corps members were asked to help with human experiments although security was tight and secrecy obsessive.
"There was a special cell (for human experiments) which had a window but it was almost impossible to see in," he said. "It had iron doors which were always locked and guarded. To get in, you needed special permits and a pass with a photograph, and the entrance and exit times were recorded. It was very strict.
"Towards the end of my time with the unit I went in twice when maruta experiments were being conducted. The two people seemed to have just died and had been opened up.
"My job was to collect parts containing the bacteria and put them in a glass case . . . for confirmation of how far the disease had spread through the body."
Mr Shinozuka said that after four years of training with, and "brain-washing" by, the unit, he knew what was happening at Harbin and was not surprised at what he saw in the cell. He had not even felt guilt at being part of it.
It was only after the war, when he was in custody of the Chinese, that he had become aware of the full horror of Unit 731's activities.
"Before the war, we were told we'd have to fight to protect ourselves, our families and the Japanese people.
"When we were detained by the Chinese, we found the authorities treated us humanely, whereas I saw our treatment of them had been inhumane. We were surprised," he said.
"That's one reason I've decided to speak out. The other is that what really happened with Unit 731 had to be made public so that it will never be repeated. Our young people have to be told the truth."