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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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