Japanese Unit 731

Main complex for Unit 731

Warning !!  There are pictures in this post that may be very upsetting.  

In the 1930s-‘40s, the Japanese Empire committed atrocities across Asia, such as the Rape of Nanking. German crimes such as human medical testing committed in concentration camps tend to receive more attention than Japan’s crimes against humanity, as more research has been done and more historians have spent time looking back and studying these horrific acts. However, the Japanese too played a part in human medical testing in a secret project called Unit 731.

Begun in 1937, Unit 731, located in Harbin, China, was created with legitimate intentions by the Japanese government. Started as an agency to promote public health, Unit 731 was meant to conduct research that would benefit Japanese soldiers, such as learning more about the ways in which the human body can withstand hunger and thirst and fight diseases. Early experiments were conducted on volunteers who had signed consent waivers, giving personnel permission. However, as the war intensified, they changed their methods.

Although the 1925 Geneva Accords had banned the use of biological or chemical weapons in warfare, the Japanese nevertheless wanted to prepare for these types of warfare. As these types of experiments were naturally ones that most people would not volunteer to take part in, the Japanese decided to use prisoners of war as their test subjects. Unit 731’s victims who were primarily Chinese and Russians, along with some Mongolians and Koreans.

Gen. Shiro Ishii

The leader of the unit was Lieutenant General Shiro Ishii. Along with the other scientists he recruited, they experimented by infecting test subjects with different types of diseases to see how their bodies would respond to pathogens. As the Japanese destroyed most of the Unit’s records at the end of the war, little is known about the scientists who worked there.

Using the test subjects, the scientists injected different germs to see how they would react to one another in the human body, in an attempt to create new diseases. Referring to their victims as Maturas, or “wooden logs,” Japanese scientists would perform different types of procedures, such as vivisection, on live victims. Rats infected with the bubonic plague were released onto victims, with the intention of infecting the subjects so that they could be studied. Unit 731 was a place of torture that was, in the minds of many Unit 731 workers, a necessity in order to win the war.

Scientists in Unit 731 also experimented on their test subjects through pregnancy and rape. Male prisoners infected with syphilis would be told to rape female prisoners as well as male prisoners in order to see how syphilis spreads in the body. Women were involuntarily impregnated and then experiments were done on them to see how it affected the mother as well as the fetus. Sometimes the mother would be vivisected in order to see how the fetus was developing.

I could not bring myself to put the worst of the images on this site.  I believe those here give a clear picture of what happened.

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Once it was clear that the Japanese were going to lose the war, unit workers destroyed much of the evidence of the experiments. Upon the formal surrender of the Japanese in August 1945, Unit 731 was officially terminated.  The government did not acknowledge the atrocity until 1988, and even then, they did not apologize for what had happened. The project was highly secretive and much of the evidence had been destroyed; in addition, government officials who were aware of what happened in Unit 731 did not make their knowledge known to the public. Because of this lack of acknowledgment, the Chinese government took it upon themselves to spread awareness of the atrocities. In 1982, they established a museum in the same place where Unit 731 operated during the war.

Unlike some of the Nazi doctors who conducted experiments on prisoners and concentration camp inmates, none of those involved with the experiments at Unit 731 were ever punished for their crimes. Instead, after war’s end, many re-entered society and went on to have very successful careers in their fields.  They were granted immunity in exchange for the information they had gathered while doing their experiments.

For further information from fellow blogger, John Knifton, view his site HERE!

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Military Humor – 

Happy New Year – “One more hiccup and’we nab ‘im!”

Adventure stories?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Coker – Purcell, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, (Ret. 20 y.)

William Evans – Smithfield, NC; US Army, WWII, mechanic

Last Flight

Carmen Famolaro – Utica, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 406th Bomb Squadron

Russell Goforth – Glencor, OK; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Cullman

Lester Jensen – Benton, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, TSgt., C Co./327 Glider/101 Airborne Division, Bronze Star

Tom Mac Donald – SCOT/NZ; SAS, Parachute Territorial Army, Iranian Embassy hostage rescue team

Royal Manaka – Monterrey, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 1st Sgt., 442nd RCT

Charles H. Phillips – Emerson, NJ; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Charles Ruggles – Tucson, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Co. I/511/11th Airborne Division

Kenneth Sheets – Avon, IN; US Navy, WWII, Japanese Occupation, corpsman

Joseph Sitrick – Davenport, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, LST communications

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on January 13, 2020, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 203 Comments.

  1. History is replete with man’s inhumanity to man!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, I dreaded posting it, but history is history and there’s nothing we can do to change it – just learn from it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • When I read this I remembered stories from family about WW2 in the Philippines. Last time I was home, I recorded a family member telling personal experiences about the war. I intend to do more–from neighbours and anyone. It’s a generation that is now passing, and the young generation should not be ignorant of fairly recent history.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Exactly. Excellent idea to hurry up and get the stories. We have so few of them left to learn from.

          Liked by 1 person

          • True. Some of them have actually recently passed away and I’m so regretful. Most likely, majority of my information would be secondary from children or grandchildren. I also need to write down myself the stories I’ve heard from those who experienced the war.

            Liked by 1 person

        • Maybe you can help me. During WWII, there was a hospital #2 on the Bataan, basically jungle. Can you give me an idea of what that area looks like now?

          Like

          • I just made a bit of search, and hospital #2 was near the village of Cabcaben, in Mariveles (the town) of Bataan (province). And then I just ‘googled’ images for Cabcaben. I’m afraid to say deforestation has overtaken our land beginning in the early 1960s!

            These were my leads–two interesting WordPress blogs: 1) The Bataan Campaign (I found two articles with reference to hospital #2 or hospitals in the jungle; 2) No Time for Fear WWII Nurses Blog (article: Jungle Angel: Bataan Remembered)

            There is also an official Facebook page for the Bataan World War II museum where you might find other interesting titbits.

            ‘Hope I’ve been of help–somehow!

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for posting this, GP. I was unaware of these “tests” until now.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks for the post GP. Something else I had no idea had happened.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It took me some time to get to this post. I bookmarked and finally read it. My ancestry is from the people/nations that Unit 731 experimented on and its not an easy read for me concerning Unit 731 nor easy to read of other Japanese atrocities. I’m glad America won Imperial Japan

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for hanging in there with the story. I am so sorry to hear that it was your people who endured this treatment. We are always hearing about the atrocities of the holocaust in Europe, do you have any stories from this time?

      Liked by 1 person

      • This was during my grandparents’ generation. My dad actually lost his older sister from the Japanese ground invasion. My grandma always said the bombings and their infantry during that time was terrible. For my mom side of the family my grandpa moved to another country because of the war. That country later was also taken over by the Japanese but he moved to the more rural area and the Japanese was less able to control the people and also was not as vicious. He would remain there until the communists take over and because my mom’s side were involved militarily and with US they later had to flee to the US. Growing up I did hear more stories of the atrocities of communism than I did about the Japanese largely because that was my parent’s direct experience. As you probably know I travel a lot to Asia in various countries for my work and it seems in many countries while the population is largely very young there’s a memory from past family members of the atrocities the Japanese has done to their family, relatives and town. I don’t have anything against modern day Japan and its people but to be honest I would have a hard time if I ever met a Japanese Imperial soldier of that era.

        Liked by 3 people

  6. Some terrible things went on during those days. I’d like to say that we’ve learned from history, but . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This type of post is difficult to read yet vital that we understand what atrocities have occurred in history. We must not forget.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is so horrific and sad. We must not forget.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. A difficult post to view, but still, deeply appreciated, and essential. Thank you. 💐

    Liked by 2 people

  10. For sure it is not really pleasant subject to discuss but because it took place people have to know these horrible things to prevent them in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I had heard about this, but had managed to shut it out. It is right that we remember. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This really is terribly sad. Humans are so cruel and heartless as a species.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I will never forget my uncle (after his third tour of Vietnam) talking about the mindset of Asia, and how fighting a war against them was far more terrifying than Germany or another European country who thinks like we think.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Thanks for presenting this , GP. It makes one reflect on human nature .

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Such horrible crimes- but it is so important to remember them and those who suffered. Thanks, GP

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Bookmarked this to read later

    Liked by 1 person

  17. The depths of human depravity are pretty well unequalled.
    Fortunately, the heights are also also available.
    And occasionally achieved.

    Liked by 1 person

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