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Units 731 is a hardcore metal band formed in Pittsburgh, PA, in 2005. The band combines death metal, hardcore, and slam to create a heavy and chaotic sound for which Pittsburgh bands are notable. Influences include Dying Fetus, All Out War, Irate, and Built Upon Frustration.
Ok, wait… wrong notes. Um… ok, here it is. The Unit 731 we're here to talk about is short for Manshu Detachment 731. It was a covert biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese Army that participated in lethal human experimentation and the production of biological weapons during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) and World War II. Unit 731 was based in the Pingfang district of Harbin, the largest city in the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo. Manchukuo's government was dissolved in 1945 after the surrender of Imperial Japan at the end of World War II. The territories claimed by Manchukuo were first seized in the Soviet invasion of Manchuria in August 1945 and then formally transferred to the Chinese administration in the following year.
For those of you wondering, "what in the Jim Henson hell is a puppet state," well, according to Wikipedia, a puppet state "is a state that is legally recognized as independent but, in fact, completely dependent upon an outside power and subject to its orders. Puppet states have nominal sovereignty, but a foreign power effectively exercises control through financial interests and economic or military support.
The United States also had some puppet states during the Cold War:
- Cuba (United States), (before 1959)
- Guatemala (United States), (until 1991)
- South Korea A.K.A. United States Army Military Government in Korea (United States), (Until 1948)
- The Republic of Vietnam A.K.A. South Vietnam (United States), (Until 1975)
- Japan A.K.A. Allied Occupation of Japan (United States), (Until 1952)
Some of the most infamous war crimes committed by the Japanese military forces were caused by this Unit. Internally dehumanized and referred to as "logs," humans were regularly used in Unit 731 testing.
Some atrocious experiments included: disease injections, controlled dehydration, hypobaric chamber experiments, biological weapons testing, vivisection, amputation, and weapons testing. Babies, children, and pregnant women were among the victims. Although the victims were from various countries, the majority were Chinese. Additionally, Unit 731 created biological weapons employed in regions of China, including Chinese cities and towns, water supplies, and farms, that were not held by Japanese soldiers.
Up to 500,000 people are thought to have been murdered by Unit 731 and its related activities. It was called "The Kwantung Army's Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department." Unit 731 was first established by the Kenpeitai military police of the Empire of Japan. General Shiro Ishii, a combat medic officer in the Kwantung Army, took control and oversaw the unit until the war's conclusion. Ishii and his crew used the facility, constructed in 1935 to replace the Zhongma Fortress, to increase their capabilities.
Up to the end of the war in 1945, the Japanese government generously supported the initiative. Facilities for the manufacturing, testing, deployment and storage of biological weapons were controlled by Unit 731 and the other units of the Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department. While researchers from Unit 731 detained by Soviet troops were convicted in the Khabarovsk war crime trials in December 1949, those seized by American forces were secretly granted immunity in exchange for the information obtained during their human experimentation.
As if we needed more bullshit to make us question the tactics of the U.S. government, The U.S. quelled the talk of the human experiments and paid the accused of doing it an actual salary. So then, similar to what they did with German researchers during Operation Paperclip, the Americans siphoned and took their knowledge of and expertise with bioweapons for use in their own program for biological warfare. Japan started its biological weapons program in the 1930s, partly because biological weapons were banned by the Geneva Convention of 1925; they reasoned that the ban verified its effectiveness as a weapon.
This begs the question, does this type of government appropriation, paying off and hiring those guilty of explicit acts on humans to use their knowledge to create our own versions of what they committed, considered an act "for the greater good?" Does allowing these turds' immunity to extract their heinous experience worth it?
Japan's occupation of Manchuria began in 1931 after the Japanese invasion. Japan decided to build Unit 731 in Manchuria because the occupation not only gave the Japanese advantage of separating the research station from their island but also gave them access to as many Chinese individuals as they wanted for use as human experimental subjects. They viewed the Chinese as no-cost research subjects and hoped they could use this advantage to lead the world in biological warfare. Most research subjects were Chinese, but many were of different nationalities.
Sound familiar? Maybe a precursor to what a bunch of mind fucked Nazis attempted AND SUCCEEDED IN DOING to so many Jews and Jewish sympathizers?
In 1932, Surgeon General Shirō Ishii, chief medical officer of the Imperial Japanese Army and protégé of Army Minister Sadao Araki, was placed in command of the Army Epidemic Prevention Research Laboratory (AEPRL). Ishii organized a secret research group, the "Tōgō Unit," for chemical and biological experimentation in Manchuria. Ishii proposed the creation of a Japanese biological and chemical research unit in 1930, after a two-year study trip abroad, because Western powers were developing their own programs. Colonel Chikahiko Koizumi, who eventually served as Japan's Health Minister from 1941 to 1945, was one of Ishii's most fierce supporters inside the Army. In 1915, during World War I, Koizumi and other Imperial Japanese Army officers were inspired by the Germans' successful use of chlorine gas at the Second Battle of Ypres (EEPRUH), in which the Allies suffered 5,000 fatalities and 15,000 injuries as a result of the chemical attack. As a result, they joined a covert poison gas research committee. As a result, unit Togo was started in the Zhongma Fortress, a prison/experimentation camp in Beiyinhe, a hamlet on the South Manchuria Railway 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Harbin.
To start the tests on those in good health, prisoners were often well-fed on a diet of rice or wheat, meat, fish, and perhaps even wine. The inmates were then starved of food and drink and had their blood drained over many days. Finally, it was noted that their health was declining. Shocker.
Some were vivisected as well. For those who don't watch or listen to disturbing documentaries, vivisection is surgery conducted for experimental purposes on a living organism, typically animals with a central nervous system, to view living internal structures. Others had been purposefully exposed to the plague bacterium and other pathogens. Ishii had to close down Zhongma Fortress due to a jailbreak in the fall of 1934 that jeopardized the facility's secret and an explosion in 1935 that was thought to be sabotage. Then he was given permission to relocate to Pingfang, which is 24 km (15 mi) south of Harbin, to set up a new, much larger facility.
Emperor Hirohito signed a decree in 1936 approving the unit's growth and its incorporation as the Epidemic Prevention Department into the Kwantung Army. It had bases at Hsinking and was split into the "Ishii Unit" and "Wakamatsu Unit." The units were collectively referred to as the "Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department of the Kwantung Army" from August 1940 onward. Hirohito's younger brother, Prince Mikasa, toured the Unit 731 headquarters in China and wrote in his memoir that he watched films showing how Chinese prisoners were "made to march on the plains of Manchuria for poison gas experiments on humans." The decree also mandated the construction of a chemical warfare development unit, the Kwantung Army Technical Testing Department, and a biological warfare development unit, the Kwantung Army Military Horse Epidemic Prevention Workshop (later known as Manchuria Unit 100). (subsequently referred to as Manchuria Unit 516).
Sister chemical and biological warfare organizations known as Epidemic Prevention and Water Supply Units were established in significant Chinese towns during the Japanese invasion of China in 1937. Unit 1855 in Beijing, Unit Ei 1644 in Nanjing, Unit 8604 in Guangzhou, and Unit 9420 in Singapore were among the detachments. Ishii's network, which at its height in 1939 had control over 10,000 people, was made up of all these organizations. In addition, Japanese medical practitioners and academics were drawn to Unit 731 by the opportunity to perform human experiments, which was highly unusual, and the Army's robust financial support.
Human subjects were used in studies for a specific project with the codename Maruta. Test subjects were selected from the local populace and were referred to as "logs," as in the phrase "How many logs fell?" Since the facility's official cover story to local authorities was that it was a timber mill, the personnel first used the word as a joke. The initiative was internally known as "Holzklotz," which is German, meaning log, according to a junior uniformed civilian employee of the Imperial Japanese Army working in Unit 731. Nothing like dehumanizing the poor people you're experimenting on.
Another similarity was the cremation of the "sacrificed" participants' corpses. Additionally, Unit 731 researchers published some findings in peer-reviewed publications while posing as non-human primates termed "Manchurian monkeys" or "long-tailed monkeys" to do the research.
According to American historian Sheldon H. Harris:
"The Togo Unit employed gruesome tactics to secure specimens of select body organs. If Ishii or one of his co-workers wished to do research on the human brain, then they would order the guards to find them a useful sample. A prisoner would be taken from his cell. Guards would hold him while another guard would smash the victim's head open with an ax. His brain would be extracted off to the pathologist, and then to the crematorium for the usual disposal."
Nakagawa Yonezo, professor emeritus at Osaka University, studied at Kyoto University during the war. While there, he watched footage of human experiments and executions from Unit 731. He later testified about the "playfulness of the experimenters:"
'Some of the experiments had nothing to do with advancing the capability of germ warfare, or of medicine. There is such a thing as professional curiosity: 'What would happen if we did such and such?' What medical purpose was served by performing and studying beheadings? None at all. That was just playing around. Professional people, too, like to play.""
Prisoners were injected with diseases disguised as vaccinations to study their effects. For example, to analyze the results of untreated venereal diseases, male and female prisoners were deliberately infected with syphilis and gonorrhea, then studied. Prisoners were also repeatedly subjected to rape by guards.
Thousands of people held in prisoner of war camps were subjected to vivisection (You all know what that is now. Organizations against animal experimentation generally use the phrase as a derogatory catch-all term for experiments on living animals, whereas practicing scientists seldom ever do. Live organ harvesting and other forms of human vivisection, as we also know, have been used as torture.), which was frequently done without anesthetic and was typically fatal. Okawa Fukumatsu, a former member of Unit 731, said in a video interview that he had vivisected a pregnant woman. Prisoners were infected with numerous illnesses before having their bodies vivisected. Invasive surgery was conducted on inmates to remove organs and learn how the condition affects the human body.
Inmates' limbs were severed so researchers could monitor blood loss. Sometimes the victims' corpses' severed limbs were reattached to their opposite sides. In addition, some convicts had surgical procedures to remove their stomachs and reconnect their esophagus to their intestines. Others had parts of their organs removed, including the brain, the liver, and the lungs. According to Imperial Japanese Army physician Ken Yuasa, at least 1,000 Japanese soldiers participated in vivisection on humans in mainland China, suggesting that the practice was commonly done outside Unit 731.
Throughout World War II, Unit 731 and its related units—including Unit 1644 and Unit 100—were engaged in the study, production, and experimental use of epidemic-producing biowarfare weapons in attacks against the Chinese population (both military and civilian). For example, in 1940 and 1941, low-flying aircraft carried plague-carrying fleas over Chinese towns, notably coastal Ningbo and Changde, in the Hunan Province. These fleas were produced in the labs of Unit 731 and Unit 1644.
With bubonic plague epidemics, these flea bombs claimed tens of thousands of lives. During an expedition to Nanjing, typhoid and paratyphoid virus were dispersed into water supplies across the city's wells, marshes, and residences and infused into snacks served to inhabitants. Soon after, epidemics spread to the joy of many scientists, who concluded that paratyphoid fever was "the most effective" of the diseases.
At least 12 large-scale bioweapon field tests were conducted, and biological weapons were used to target 11 Chinese cities. According to reports, a 1941 raid on Changde resulted in some 10,000 biological injuries and 1,700 deaths among poorly equipped Japanese soldiers, most of which died of cholera. In addition, Japanese researchers conducted experiments on inmates suffering from cholera, smallpox, bubonic plague, and other illnesses. The defoliation bacilli bomb and the flea bomb, which were used to spread the bubonic plague, were developed as a result of this study. Ishii presented the concept of designing some of these bombs using porcelain shells in 1938.
These bombs allowed Japanese forces to launch biological strikes, infecting crops, water supplies, and other places with cholera, typhoid, anthrax, and other deadly illnesses via fleas. Researchers would study the victims dying during biological bomb trials while protected by protective suits. Aircraft would deliver contaminated food and clothes into parts of China that were not under Japanese control. Additionally, innocent people received candies and food that had been tainted.
On several targets, bombs containing plague fleas, contaminated clothes, and infected goods were dropped upon the unsuspecting citizens. As a result, at least 400,000 Chinese citizens were killed due to cholera, anthrax, and plague. Also tested on Chinese citizens was tularemia, Also known as rabbit fever or deer fly fever, which typically attacks the skin, eyes, lymph nodes, and lungs.
Chiang Kai-shek dispatched military and international medical specialists delegation to document the evidence and treat the sick in November 1941 in response to pressure from various stories of the biowarfare assaults. However, the Allied Powers did not respond to a report on the Japanese deployment of plague-infected fleas on Changde until Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a public warning in 1943 denouncing the attacks. The announcement was made publicly available the following year.
Obviously, this is ridiculous and inhumane, but it couldn't be used on us here in the U.S. of "Don't Tread On Me" A, right?
Well, hold on to your stars and stripes because during the final months of World War II, codenamed "Cherry Blossoms at Night," Unit 731 planned to use kamikaze pilots to infest San Diego, California, with the plague. The plan was scheduled to launch on September 22, 1945, but Japan surrendered five weeks earlier. So yep, if the United States had not dropped Fat Man and Little Boy on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there could have been a man-made plague set upon the west coast.
Human targets were used to test grenades positioned at various distances and positions. Flamethrowers were also tested on people. Victims were also tied to stakes and used as targets to test pathogen-releasing bombs, chemical weapons, shrapnel bombs with varying amounts of fragments, explosive bombs, and bayonets and knives.
To determine the best course of treatment for varying degrees of shrapnel wounds sustained on the field by Japanese Soldiers, Chinese prisoners were exposed to direct bomb blasts. They were strapped, unprotected, to wooden planks staked into the ground at increasing distances around a bomb that was then detonated. After that, it was surgery for most and autopsies for the rest.
This info was taken from the documentary — Unit 731, Nightmare in Manchuria
In other diplorable tests, subjects were deprived of food and water to determine the length of time until death. They would then be placed into low-pressure chambers until their eyes popped from the sockets. Next, victims were tested to determine the relationship between temperature, burns, and human survival. Next, they were hung upside down until death; crushed with heavy objects; electrocuted; dehydrated with hot fans, placed into centrifuges, and spun until they died. People were also injected with animal blood, notably horse blood; exposed to lethal doses of X-rays; subjected to various chemical weapons inside gas chambers; injected with seawater; and burned or buried alive.
The Unit also looked at the characteristics of several other poisons and chemical agents. Prisoners were subjected to substances like tetrodotoxin (the venom of pufferfish or fugu), heroin, Korean bindweed, bactal, and castor-oil seeds, to mention a few (ricin). In addition, according to former Unit 731 vivisectionist Okawa Fukumatsu, large volumes of blood were removed from some detainees to research the consequences of blood loss. At least half a liter of blood was taken in one instance at intervals of two to three days.
The human body only contains 5 liters.
As we mentioned, dehydration experiments were performed on the victims. These tests aimed to determine the amount of water in an individual's body and how long one could survive with little to no water intake. Victims were also starved before these tests began. The deteriorating physical states of these victims were documented by staff at periodic intervals.
"It was said that a small number of these poor men, women, and children who became marutas were also mummified alive in total dehydration experiments. They sweated themselves to death under the heat of several hot dry fans. At death, the corpses would only weigh ≈1/5 normal bodyweight."
— Hal Gold, Japan's Infamous Unit 731, (2019)
Unit 731 also performed transfusion experiments with different blood types. For example, unit member Naeo Ikeda wrote:
In my experience, when 100 cc A type blood was transfused to an O-type subject, whose pulse was 87 per minute and temperature was 35.4 degrees C, 30 minutes later, their temperature rose to 38.6 degrees with slight trepidation. Sixty minutes later, their pulse was 106 per minute, and the temperature was 39.4 degrees. The temperature was 37.7 degrees two hours later, and the subject recovered three hours later. When 120 cc of AB-type blood was transfused to an O-type subject, an hour after the subject described malaise and psychroesthesia (feeling cold) in both legs. When 100 cc of A.B. type blood was transfused to a B-type subject, there seemed to be no side effects.
Taken from— "Man, Medicine, and the State: The Human Body as an Object of Government Sponsored Medical Research in the 20th Century" (2006) pp. 38–39
Unit 731 tested a slew of chemical agents on prisoners and had a building dedicated to gas experiments. Some of the agents tested were mustard gas, lewisite, cyanic acid gas, white phosphorus, adamsite, and phosgene gas. To put things in horrific perspective, the mortality rate from mustard gas was only 2-3%. Still, those who suffered chemical burns and respiratory problems had prolonged hospitalizations and, if they recovered, were thought to be at higher risk of developing cancers during later life. The toxic effects of lewisite are rapid onset and result from acute exposures. The vesicant properties of lewisite result from direct skin contact; it has been estimated that as little as 2 ml to an adult human (equivalent to 37.6 mg/kg) can be fatal within several hours. Airborne release of cyanide gas, in the form of hydrogen cyanide or cyanogen chloride, would be expected to be lethal to 50% of those exposed (LCt50) at levels of 2,500-5,000 mg•min/m^3 and 11,000 mg•min/m^3, respectively. When ingested as sodium or potassium cyanide, the lethal dose is 100-200 mg. According to a medical report prepared during the hostilities by the ministry of health, "[w]hite phosphorus can cause serious injury and death when it comes into contact with the skin, is inhaled or is swallowed." The report states that burns on less than 10 percent of the body can be fatal because of liver, kidneys, and heart damage. Adamsite (D.M.) is a vomiting compound used as a riot-control agent (military designation, D.M.). It is released as an aerosol. Adverse health effects from exposure to adamsite (D.M.) are generally self-limited and do not require specific therapy. Most adverse health effects resolve within 30 minutes. Exposure to large concentrations of adamsite (D.M.), or exposure to adamsite (D.M.) within an enclosed space or under adverse weather conditions, may result in more severe adverse health effects, serious illness, or death.
Phosgene is highly toxic by acute (short-term) inhalation exposure. Severe respiratory effects, including pulmonary edema, pulmonary emphysema, and death, have been reported in humans. Severe ocular irritation and dermal burns may result following eye or skin exposure. It is estimated that as many as 85% of the 91,000 gas deaths in WWI were a result of phosgene or the related agent, diphosgene
A former army major and technician gave the following testimony anonymously (at the time of the interview, this man was a professor emeritus at a national university):
"In 1943, I attended a poison gas test held at the Unit 731 test facilities. A glass-walled chamber about three meters square [97 sq ft] and two meters [6.6 ft] high was used. Inside of it, a Chinese man was blindfolded, with his hands tied around a post behind him. The gas was adamsite (sneezing gas), and as the gas filled the chamber the man went into violent coughing convulsions and began to suffer excruciating pain. More than ten doctors and technicians were present. After I had watched for about ten minutes, I could not stand it any more, and left the area. I understand that other types of gasses were also tested there."
Taken from— Hal Gold, Japan's Infamous Unit 731, p. 349 (2019)
Takeo Wano, a former medical employee of Unit 731, claimed to have observed a Western man being pickled in formaldehyde after being chopped in half vertically. Because so many Russians were residing in the neighborhood at the time, Wano suspected that the man was Russian.
Additionally, Unit 100 experimented with poisonous gas. The captives were housed in mobile gas chambers that resembled phone booths. Others donned military uniforms, while others were made to wear various sorts of gas masks, and other people wore nothing at all.
It's been said that some of the tests are "psychopathically cruel, with no possible military purpose." One experiment, for instance, measured how long it took for three-day-old newborns to freeze to death. Jesus christ.
Additionally, Unit 731 conducted field tests of chemical weapons on detainees. An unknown researcher at the Kamo Unit (Unit 731) wrote a paper that details a significant (mustard gas) experiment on humans from September 7–10, 1940. Twenty participants were split into three groups and put in observation gazebos, trenches, and fighting emplacements. One group received up to 1,800 field cannon rounds of mustard gas for 25 minutes while wearing Chinese underpants, without a cap or a mask. Another set had shoes and a summer military outfit; three wore masks, while the others did not.
They also were exposed to as many as 1,800 rounds of mustard gas. A third group was clothed in summer military uniform, three with masks and two without masks, and were exposed to as many as 4,800 rounds. Then their general symptoms and damage to the skin, eye, respiratory organs, and digestive organs were observed at 4 hours, 24 hours, and 2, 3, and 5 days after the shots.
Holy shit. Then the psychopaths injected the blister fluid from one subject into another, and analyses of blood and soil were also performed. Finally, five subjects were forced to drink a water solution of mustard and lewisite gas, with or without decontamination. The report describes the conditions of every subject precisely without mentioning what happened to them in the long run. The following is an excerpt of one of these reports:
"Number 376, dugout of the first area:
September 7, 1940, 6 pm: Tired and exhausted. Looks with hollow eyes. Weeping redness of the skin of the upper part of the body. Eyelids edematous (uh-dim-uh-tose)(Swollen with fluid), swollen. Epiphora. (excessive watering), Hyperemic conjunctivae (ocular redness).
September 8, 1940, 6 am: Neck, breast, upper abdomen, and scrotum weeping, reddened, swollen. Covered with millet-seed-size to bean-size blisters. Eyelids and conjunctivae hyperemic and edematous. Had difficulties opening the eyes.
September 8, 6 pm: Tired and exhausted. Feels sick. Body temperature 37 degrees Celsius. Mucous and bloody erosions across the shoulder girdle. Abundant mucus nose secretions. Abdominal pain. Mucous and bloody diarrhea. Proteinuria (excess protein in urinal, possibly meaning kidney damage).
September 9, 1940, 7 am: Tired and exhausted. Weakness of all four extremities.
Low morale. Body temperature 37 degrees Celsius. Skin of the face still weeping.
Taken from— "Man, Medicine, and the State: The Human Body as an Object of Government Sponsored Medical Research in the 20th Century" (2006) p. 187
Hisato Yoshimura, an Army engineer, carried out tests by forcing captives to stand outside, putting various limbs into water at multiple temperatures, and letting the limb freeze. Yoshimura would then use a small stick to whack the victims' frozen limbs while "producing a sound similar to that which a board emits when it is struck." The damaged region was then treated with different methods, such as dousing it in water or exposing it to the heat of a fire once the ice had been chipped away.
The sadistic fuck, Yoshimura, was described to the members of the Unit as a "scientific devil" and a "cold-blooded animal" because of the strictness with which he would carry out his evil experiments. In an interview from the 1980s, Unit 731 member Naoji Uezono revealed a super uncool and nightmare-inducing incident when Yoshimura had "Researchers placed two nude males in an area that was 40–50 degrees below zero and documented the entire process until the individuals passed away. [The victims] were in such pain that they were tearing at each other's flesh with their nails ". In a 1950 essay for the Journal Of Japanese Physiology, Yoshimura revealed his lack of regret for torturing 20 kids and a three-day-old baby in tests that subjected them to ice water and ice temperatures below zero.
Although this article drew criticism, Yoshimura denied any guilt when contacted by a reporter from the Mainichi Shimbun. Yoshimura developed a "resistance index of frostbite" based on the mean temperature of 5 to 30 minutes after immersion in freezing water, the temperature of the first rise after immersion, and the time until the temperature rises after immersion. In several separate experiments, it was then determined how these parameters depend on the time of day a victim's body part was immersed in freezing water, the surrounding temperature and humidity during immersion, and how the victim had been treated before the immersion. Variables like ("after keeping awake for a night", "after hunger for 24 hours", "after hunger for 48 hours", "immediately after heavy meal", "immediately after hot meal", "immediately after muscular exercise", "immediately after cold bath", "immediately after hot bath"), what type of food the victim had been fed over the five days preceding the immersions concerning dietary nutrient intake ("high protein (of animal nature)", "high protein (of vegetable nature)", "low protein intake", and "standard diet"), and salt intake (45 g NaCl per day, 15 g NaCl per day, no salt).
Then there's syphilis.
For those that may not know, syphilis is a chronic bacterial disease contracted chiefly by infection during sexual intercourse but also congenitally by infection of a developing fetus. The first sign of syphilis is a small, brownish dot on the infected person's left hand. How many of you looked? You dirty birds!
Actually, the first stage of syphilis involves a painless sore on the genitals, rectum, or mouth. After the initial sore heals, the second stage is characterized by a rash. Then, there are no symptoms until the final stage, which may occur years later. This final stage can result in damage to the brain, nerves, eyes, or heart.
Syphilis is treated with penicillin. Sexual partners should also be treated.
Unit members orchestrated forced sex acts between infected and noninfected prisoners to transmit syphilis, as the testimony of a prison guard on the subject of devising a method for transmission of syphilis between patients shows:
"Infection of venereal disease by injection was abandoned, and the researchers started forcing the prisoners into sexual acts with each other. Four or five unit members, dressed in white laboratory clothing completely covering the body with only eyes and mouth visible, rest covered, handled the tests. A male and female, one infected with syphilis, would be brought together in a cell and forced into sex with each other. It was made clear that anyone resisting would be shot."
These unfortunate victims were infected and then vivisected at various stages of infection to view the interior and exterior organs as the disease developed. Despite being forcefully infected, many guards testified that the female victims were the viruses' hosts. Guards used the term "jam-filled buns" to refer to the syphilis-infected female detainees' genitalia.
And THAT is so gross on just about every level.
Inside the confines of Unit 731, several syphilis-infected children grew up. "One was a Chinese mother carrying a baby, one was a White Russian woman with a daughter of four or five years of age, and the final was a White Russian woman with a kid of around six or seven," recounted a Youth Corps member who was sent to train at Unit 731. Similar tests were performed on these women's offspring, focusing on how prolonged infection times influenced the success of therapies.
Just when you thought this shit was bad enough, the rape and forced pregnancies came.
For use in experiments, nonpregnant female convicts were made to get pregnant. The declared justification for the torture was the possible danger of infections, notably syphilis, being transmitted vertically (from mother to kid). In addition, their interests included maternal reproductive organ injury and fetal survival. There have been no reports of any Unit 731 survivors, including children, even though "a considerable number of newborns were born in captivity." Female captives' offspring are said to have either been aborted or murdered after birth.
While male prisoners were often used in single studies so that the results of the experimentation on them would not be clouded by other variables, women were sometimes used in bacteriological or physiological experiments, sex experiments, and as the victims of sex crimes. The testimony of a unit member that served as a guard graphically demonstrated this violent and disturbing reality:
"One of the former researchers I located told me that one day he had a human experiment scheduled, but there was still time to kill. So he and another unit member took the keys to the cells and opened one that housed a Chinese woman. One of the unit members raped her; the other member took the keys and opened another cell. There was a Chinese woman in there who had been used in a frostbite experiment. She had several fingers missing and her bones were black, with gangrene set in. He was about to rape her anyway, then he saw that her sex organ was festering, with pus oozing to the surface. He gave up the idea, left and locked the door, then later went on to his experimental work."
What in the actual fuck.
Prisoners and victims
An "International Symposium on the Crimes of Bacteriological Warfare" was convened in Changde, China, the scene of the plague flea bombardment, as mentioned earlier, in 2002. There, it was calculated that around 580,000 people had been killed by the Imperial Japanese Army's germ warfare and other human experimentation. According to American historian Sheldon H. Harris, more than 200,000 people perished. In addition, 1,700 Japanese soldiers in Zhejiang during the Zhejiang-Jiangxi war were killed by their own biological weapons while attempting to release the biological agent, showing major distribution problems in addition to the Chinese deaths. Additionally, according to Harris, animals infected with the plague were released close to the war's conclusion, leading to plague outbreaks that, between 1946 and 1948, killed at least 30,000 people in the Harbin region.
Those chosen as test subjects included common criminals, captured bandits, anti-Japanese partisans, political prisoners, homeless people, and people with mental disabilities, including infants, men, elderly people, and pregnant women, in addition to those detained by the Kenpeitai military police for alleged "suspicious activities." About 300 researchers worked at Unit 731, including medical professionals and bacteriologists. However, many people have become numb to carrying out harsh tests due to their experience with animal experimentation.
Without considering victims from other medical research facilities like Unit 100, at least 3,000 men, women, and children: 117—of which at least 600 each year were given by the Kenpeitai—were subjected to Unit 731 experimentation at the Pingfang camp alone. Although the literature generally accepts the number of 3,000 internal casualties, former Unit member Okawa Fukumatsu challenged it in a video interview. He claimed that the Unit had at least 10,000 internal experiments victims and that he had personally vivisected thousands of them.
- S. Wells said that Chinese people made up most of the casualties, with smaller proportions of Russian, Mongolian, and Korean people. A few European, American, Indian, Australian, and New Zealander prisoners of war may have also been among them. According to a Yokusan Sonendan paramilitary political youth branch member who worked for Unit 731, Americans, British, and French were present, in addition to Chinese, Russians, and Koreans. According to Sheldon H. Harris' research, the victims were primarily political dissidents, communist sympathizers, common criminals, low-income residents, and those with mental disabilities. According to estimates by author Seiichi Morimura, about 70% of the Pingfang camp's fatalities (both military and civilian) were Chinese, while roughly 30% were Russian.
Nobody who went inside Unit 731 survived. Let me repeat that: "Nobody that went inside Unit 731 survived".
At night, prisoners were usually brought into Unit 731 in black cars with no windows but only a ventilation hole. One of the drivers would exit the vehicle at the main gates and head to the guardroom to report to the guard. The "Special Team" in the inner jail, which was led by Shiro Ishii's brother, would then get a call from that guard. The convicts would then be taken to the inner prisons via an underground tunnel excavated beneath the center building's exterior.
Building 8 was one of the jails housing men and women while building 7 held just women. Once inside the inner jail, technicians would take blood and feces samples from the inmates, assess their kidney function, and gather other physical information. Prisoners found healthy and suitable for research were given a three-digit number instead of their names, which they kept until they passed away. Every time a prisoner passed away following the tests they had undergone, a clerk from the 1st Division crossed their names off of an index card and took their shackles to be worn by newly arrived captives.
At least one "friendly" social interaction between inmates and Unit 731 employees has been documented. Two female convicts were engaged by technician Naokata Ishibashi. One prisoner was a Chinese woman, age 21, while the other was a Soviet woman, age 19. Ishibashi discovered that she was from Ukraine after asking where she was from. The two inmates urged Ishibashi to acquire a mirror since they claimed to have not seen their own faces since being taken prisoner. Through a gap in the cell door, Ishibashi managed to covertly get a mirror to them. As long as they were healthy enough, prisoners were regularly employed for experimentation. Once a prisoner had been admitted to the Unit, they had a two-month life expectancy on average. Many female convicts gave birth there, and some inmates remained alive in the unit for nearly a year. The jail cells each featured a squat toilet and wood floors. The prison's exterior walls and the cells' outer walls were separated by space, allowing the guards to pass behind the cells. There was a little window in each cell door. When shown the inner jail, Chief of the Personnel Division of the Kwantung Army Headquarters, Tamura Tadashi, stated that he glanced inside the cells and observed live individuals in chains, some of whom moved around, while others lay on the bare floor and were in a very ill and helpless condition.
Yoshio Shinozuka, a former Unit 731 Youth Corps member, testified that it was difficult to look through these prison doors because of their tiny windows. Cast iron doors and a high level of security made up the inner jail. No one was allowed admission without specific authorization, a picture I.D. pass, and the entry/exit timings were recorded. These two inner-prison structures were the "special team's" workspaces. This group wore white overalls, army caps, rubber boots, and carried guns.
A former member of the Special Team (who insisted on anonymity) recalled in 1995 his first vivisection conducted at the Unit:
"He didn't struggle when they led him into the room and tied him down. 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."
— Anonymous, The New York Times (March 17 1995)
According to some reports, it was standard procedure at the Unit for doctors to place a piece of cloth (or a portion of medical gauze) inside a prisoner's lips before starting vivisection to muffle any screams.
Even though the jail was pretty secure, there was at least one effort to break out... That failed.
According to Corporal Kikuchi Norimitsu's testimony, a fellow unit member informed him that a prisoner had been taken "jumped out of the cell and ran down the corridor, grabbed the keys, and opened the iron doors and some of the cells" after "having shown violence and had struck the experimenter with a door handle." Only the bravest of the inmates were able to jump free, though. These brave ones were killed ". Seiichi Morimura goes into further depth about this attempt at escapology in his book The Devil's Feast.
Two male Russian prisoners were being held in handcuffs in a cell. One of them was lying flat on the ground and acting like he was sick. One of the staff members noticed and decided to go inside the cell. The Russian on the ground, suddenly sprang up and overpowered the guard. The two Russians yelled, unlocked their shackles, grabbed the keys, and opened a few more cells. Other Russian and Chinese prisoners were freaking out, up and down the halls while shouting and screaming. Finally, one Russian yelled at the members of Unit 731, pleading with them to shoot him rather than use him as a test subject.
This Russian was gunned down and murdered. One employee who saw the attempted escape remembered what happened: "In comparison to the "marutas," who had both freedom and weapons, we were all spiritually lost. We knew in our hearts at the moment that justice was not on our side ". Even if the prisoners had been able to leave the quadrangle, a vigorously defended facility staffed with guards, they would have had to traverse a dry moat lined with electric wire and a three-meter-high brick wall to get to the complex's outside.
Even members of Unit 731 weren't free from being subjects of experiments. Yoshio Tamura, an assistant in the Special Team, recalled that Yoshio Sudō, an employee of the first Division at Unit 731, became infected with bubonic plague due to the production of plague bacteria. The Special Team was then ordered to vivisect Sudō. About this Tamura said:
"Sudō had, a few days previously, been interested in talking about women, but now he was thin as a rake, with many purple spots over his body. A large area of scratches on his chest were bleeding. He painfully cried and breathed with difficulty. I sanitised his whole body with disinfectant. Whenever he moved, a rope around his neck tightened. After Sudō's body was carefully checked [by the surgeon], I handed a scalpel to [the surgeon] who, reversely gripping the scalpel, touched Sudō's stomach skin and sliced downward. Sudō shouted "brute!" and died with this last word."
Taken from— Criminal History of Unit 731 of the Japanese Military, pp. 118–119 (1991)
Additionally, Unit 731 Youth Corps member Yoshio Shinozuka testified that his friend, junior assistant Mitsuo Hirakawa, was vivisected due to being accidentally infected with the plague.
Surrender and immunity
Operations and experiments continued until the end of the war. Ishii had wanted to use biological weapons in the Pacific War since May 1944, but he was repeatedly told to fuck off.
With the coming of the Red Army in August 1945, the unit had to abandon its work in a hurry. Ministries in Tokyo ordered the destruction of all incriminating materials, including those in Pingfang. Potential witnesses, such as the 300 remaining prisoners, were either gassed or fed poison while the 600 Chinese and Manchurian laborers were all frigging shot. Ishii ordered every group member to disappear and "take the secret to the grave." Potassium cyanide vials were issued for use in case the remaining personnel was captured.
Skeleton crews of Ishii's Japanese troops blew up the compound in the war's final days to destroy any evidence of their activities. Still, many were sturdy enough to remain somewhat intact.
Among the individuals in Japan after its 1945 surrender was Lieutenant Colonel Murray Sanders, whose name doesn't really sound Japanese and who arrived in Yokohama via the American ship Sturgess in September 1945. Sanders was a highly regarded microbiologist and a member of America's military center for biological weapons. Sanders' duty was to investigate Japanese biological warfare activity, and B.O.Y. was there a shit ton!
At the time of his arrival in Japan, he had no knowledge of what Unit 731 was. Until he finally threatened the Japanese with bringing the Soviets into the picture, little information about their biological warfare was being shared with the Americans. The Japanese wanted to avoid prosecution under the Soviet legal system, so the morning after he made his threat, Sanders received a manuscript describing Japan's involvement in biological warfare. Sanders took this information to General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers responsible for rebuilding Japan during the Allied occupation. As a result, MacArthur struck a deal with Japanese informants: he secretly granted immunity to the physicians of Unit 731, including their leader, in exchange for providing America, but not the other wartime allies, with their research on biological warfare and data from human experimentation. Yessiree, bob! You heard that correctly!
American occupation authorities monitored the activities of former unit members, including going through and messing with their mail. The Americans believed the research data was valuable and didn't want other nations, especially those guys with the sickle, you know... the Soviet Union, to get their red hands on the data for biological weapons.
The Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal heard only one reference to Japanese experiments with "poisonous serums" on Chinese civilians. This took place in August 1946 and was instigated by David Sutton, assistant to the Chinese prosecutor. The Japanese defense counsel argued that the claim was vague and uncorroborated, and it was dismissed by the tribunal president, Sir William Webb, for lack of evidence! The subject was not pursued further by Sutton, who was probably unaware of Unit 731's activities and allegedly a fucking idiot. His reference to it at the trial is believed to have been "accidental."
While German physicians were brought to trial and had their crimes publicized, the U.S. concealed information about Japanese biological warfare experiments and secured immunity for the monsters. I mean perpetrators.
Critics argue that racism led to the double standard in the American postwar responses to the experiments conducted on different nationalities. For example, whereas the perpetrators of Unit 731 were exempt from prosecution, the U.S. held a tribunal in Yokohama in 1948 that indicted nine Japanese physician professors and medical students for conducting vivisection upon captured American pilots; two professors were sentenced to death and others to 15–20 years' imprisonment. So, it's one thing to do it to THOUSANDS OF CHINESE AND RUSSIANS, but HOW DARE you do that to one of us! The fuck?
Although publicly silent on the issue at the Tokyo Trials, the Soviet Union pursued the case and prosecuted 12 top military leaders and scientists from Unit 731 and its affiliated biological-war prisons Unit 1644 in Nanjing and Unit 100 in Changchun in the Khabarovsk war crimes trials. Among those accused of war crimes, including germ warfare, was General Otozō Yamada, commander-in-chief of the million-man Kwantung Army occupying Manchuria.
The trial of the Japanese monsters was held in Khabarovsk in December 1949; a lengthy partial transcript of trial proceedings was published in different languages the following year by the Moscow foreign languages press, including an English-language edition. The lead prosecuting attorney at the Khabarovsk trial was Lev Smirnov, one of the top Soviet prosecutors at the Nuremberg Trials. The Japanese doctors and army commanders who had perpetrated the Unit 731 experiments received sentences from the Khabarovsk court ranging from 2 to 25 years in a Siberian labor camp. The United States refused to acknowledge the trials, branding them communist propaganda. The sentences doled out to the Japanese perpetrators were unusually lenient by Soviet standards. All but two of the defendants returned to Japan by the 1950s (with one prisoner dying in prison and the other committing suicide inside his cell). In addition to the accusations of propaganda, the U.S. also asserted that the trials were to only serve as a distraction from the Soviet treatment of several hundred thousand Japanese prisoners of war; meanwhile, the USSR asserted that the U.S. had given the Japanese diplomatic leniency in exchange for information regarding their human experimentation. The accusations of both the U.S. and the USSR were true. It is believed that the Japanese had also given information to the Soviets regarding their biological experimentation for judicial leniency. This was evidenced by the Soviet Union building a biological weapons facility in Sverdlovsk using documentation captured from Unit 731 in Manchuria.
Official silence during the American occupation of Japan
As we, unfortunately, mentioned earlier, during the United States occupation of Japan, the members of Unit 731 and the members of other experimental units were set free. However, on May 6, 1947, Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, wrote to Washington to inform it that "additional data, possibly some statements from Ishii, can probably be obtained by informing Japanese involved that information will be retained in intelligence channels and will not be employed as 'war crimes' evidence."
One graduate of Unit 1644, Masami Kitaoka, continued to perform experiments on unwilling Japanese subjects from 1947 to 1956. While working for Japan's National Institute of Health Sciences, he completed his experiments. He infected prisoners with rickettsia and infected mentally-ill patients with typhus. As the unit's chief, Shiro Ishii was granted immunity from prosecution for war crimes by the American occupation authorities because he had provided human experimentation research materials to them. However, from 1948 to 1958, less than five percent of the documents were transferred onto microfilm and stored in the U.S. National Archives before they were shipped back to Japan.
Post-occupation Japanese media coverage and debate
Japanese discussions of Unit 731's activity began in the 1950s after the American occupation of Japan ended. In 1952, human experiments carried out in Nagoya City Pediatric Hospital, which resulted in one death, were publicly tied to former members of Unit 731. Later in that decade, journalists suspected that the murders attributed by the government to Sadamichi Hirasawa were actually carried out by members of Unit 731. In 1958, Japanese author Shūsaku Endō published The Sea and Poison about human experimentation in Fukuoka, which is thought to have been based on an actual incident.
The author Seiichi Morimura published The Devil's Gluttony in 1981, followed by The Devil's Gluttony: A Sequel in 1983. These books purported to reveal the "true" operations of Unit 731 but falsely attributed unrelated photos to the Unit, which raised questions about their accuracy.
Also, in 1981, the first direct testimony of human vivisection in China was given by Ken Yuasa. Since then, much more in-depth testimony has been given in Japan. For example, the 2001 documentary Japanese Devils primarily consists of interviews with fourteen Unit 731 staff members taken prisoner by China and later released.
Significance in postwar research on bio-warfare and medicine
Japanese Biological Warfare operations were by far the largest during WWII, and "possibly with more people and resources than the B.W. producing nations of France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, and the Soviet Union combined, between the world wars. Although the dissemination methods of delivering plague-infected fleas by aircraft were crude, the method, among others, allowed the Japanese to "conduct the most extensive employment of biological weapons during WWII." However, the amount of effort devoted to B.W. was not matched by its results. Ultimately, inadequate scientific and engineering foundations limited the effectiveness of the Japanese program. Harris speculates that U.S. scientists generally wanted to acquire it due to the concept of forbidden fruit, believing that lawful and ethical prohibitions could affect the outcomes of their research.
Unit 731 presents a particular problem since, unlike Nazi human experimentation, which the United States publicly condemned, the activities of Unit 731 are known to the general public only from the testimonies of willing former unit members.
Japanese history textbooks usually reference Unit 731 but do not detail allegations following there strict principles. However, Saburō Ienaga's New History of Japan included a detailed description based on officers' testimony. The Ministry for Education attempted to remove this passage from his textbook before it was taught in public schools because the testimony was insufficient. The Supreme Court of Japan ruled in 1997 that the testimony was sufficient and that requiring it to be removed was an illegal violation of freedom of speech.
In 1997, international lawyer Kōnen Tsuchiya filed a class action suit against the Japanese government, demanding reparations for the actions of Unit 731, using evidence filed by Professor Makoto Ueda of Rikkyo University. All levels of the Japanese court system found the suit baseless. No findings of fact were made about the existence of human experimentation, but the court's ruling was that reparations are determined by international treaties, not national courts.
In August 2002, the Tokyo district court ruled that Japan had engaged in biological warfare for the first time. Presiding judge Koji Iwata ruled that Unit 731, on the orders of the Imperial Japanese Army headquarters, used bacteriological weapons on Chinese civilians between 1940 and 1942, spreading diseases, including plague and typhoid, in the cities of Quzhou, Ningbo, and Changde. However, he rejected victims' compensation claims because they had already been settled by international peace treaties.
In October 2003, a Japan's House of Representatives member filed an inquiry. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi responded that the Japanese government did not then possess any records related to Unit 731 but recognized the gravity of the matter and would publicize any records located in the future. As a result, in April 2018, the National Archives of Japan released the names of 3,607 members of Unit 731 in response to a request by Professor Katsuo Nishiyama of the Shiga University of Medical Science.
After World War II, the Office of Special Investigations created a watchlist of suspected Axis collaborators and persecutors who were banned from entering the United States. While they have added over 60,000 names to the watchlist, they have only been able to identify under 100 Japanese participants. In a 1998 correspondence letter between the D.O.J. and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Eli Rosenbaum, director of O.S.I., stated that this was due to two factors:
While most documents captured by the U.S. in Europe were microfilmed before being returned to their respective governments, the Department of Defense decided to not microfilm its vast collection of records before returning them to the Japanese government.
The Japanese government has also failed to grant the O.S.I. meaningful access to these and related records after the war. In contrast, European countries, on the other hand, have been largely cooperative, the cumulative effect of which is that information on identifying these individuals is, in effect, impossible to recover.
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