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The Asian Auschwitz of Unit 731
The Asian Auschwitz of Unit 731

Shane Green

August 29 2002

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.

Quote: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.
"There are three sorts of conspiracy: by the people who complain, by the people who write, by the people who take action. There is nothing to fear from the first group, the two others are more dangerous; but the police have to be part of all three,"

Joseph Fouche
A ball to pick-up & run with; that "logs" bit I've mentioned before, the "wood/tree/burnt" I get a lot of same mentality of course. And the medical science' & "not a real person".

This reminds me of a few years ago in the news media, where they' suddenly started blabbing-on about is it ethical to use the data from Nazi human experimentation?', meaning that they were using the data from Nazi human experimentation, and maybe more with the latest round of new-new-golden-dawn-the-onward-march-of-science-again, hence cortical modem effects & torture implants & the rest of it, because they can only get away with doing so much to their own TBI cabbages & they've already done all that on Fred Basset:

"November 12, 2014

Statement of APA Board of Directors: Outside Counsel to Conduct Independent Review of Allegations of Support for Torture
WASHINGTON The American Psychological Association (APA) Board of Directors has reviewed the allegation in James Risen's book, "Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War," that APA colluded with the Bush administration to support torture during the war on terror. Specifically, Risen alleges that APA supported the development and implementation of "enhanced" interrogation techniques that constituted torture, and was complicit with the CIA and U.S. military to this end.
We believe that APA's October 16th statement refuting Risen's assertion was a fair and accurate response. However, the allegation made by Mr. Risen is highly charged and very serious. His book has created confusion for the public and APA members. This confusion, coupled with the seriousness of the allegation, requires a definitive, independent and objective review of the allegation and all relevant evidence. "

That's the US Ass'n of shrinks, denying that they're into torture, in the C.21.

There's quite a long list of Nazi experimentations under several headings out there':

Nazi human experimentation
· 1Experiments
o 1.1Experiments on twins
o 1.2Bone, muscle, and nerve transplantation experiments
o 1.3Head injury experiments
o 1.4Freezing experiments
o 1.5Malaria experiments
o 1.6Immunization experiments
o 1.7Mustard gas experiments
o 1.8Sulfonamide experiments
o 1.9Sea water experiments
o 1.10Sterilization experiments
o 1.11Experiments with poison
o 1.12Incendiary bomb experiments
o 1.13High altitude experiments
o 1.14Blood coagulation experiments
· 2Aftermath
o 2.1Modern ethical issues
· 3See also
· 4References
· 5Further reading
· 6External links
o 6.1Controversy regarding use of findings

Unethical human experimentation in the United States

· 1Surgical experiments
· 2Pathogens, disease, and biological warfare agents
o 2.1Late 19th century
o 2.2Early 20th century
o 2.31940s
o 2.41950s
o 2.51960s
· 3Human radiation experiments
o 3.1Radioactive iodine experiments
o 3.2Uranium experiments
o 3.3Plutonium experiments
o 3.4Experiments involving other radioactive materials
o 3.5Fallout research
o 3.6Irradiation experiments
· 4Chemical experiments
o 4.1Nonconsensual tests
o 4.2Operation Top Hat
o 4.3Holmesburg program
· 5Psychological and torture experiments
o 5.1U.S. government research
§ 5.1.1Truth serum
§ 5.1.2Drug deaths
§ 5.1.3MKULTRA
§ 5.1.4Experiments on patients with schizophrenia
§ 5.1.5Torture experiments
o 5.2Academic research
· 6Pharmacological research
· 7Other experiments
· 8Legal, academic and professional policy
· 9See also
· 10References
o 10.1Notes
o 10.2Bibliography
· 11Further resources
o 11.1General
o 11.2Biological warfare and disease/pathogen experiments
o 11.3Human radiation experiments
§ 11.3.1Books
§ 11.3.2Government documents
§ 11.3.3Journals
o 11.4Psychological/torture/interrogation experiments
o 11.5Video

Interested to see there "The Monster Study was a stuttering experiment performed on 22 orphan children in Davenport, Iowa in 1939. It was conducted by Wendell Johnson at the University of Iowa. Graduate student Mary Tudor conducted the experiment under Johnson's supervision. Half of the children received positive speech therapy, praising the fluency of their speech, and the other half, negative speech therapy, belittling the children for speech imperfections. Many of the normal speaking orphan children who received negative therapy in the experiment suffered negative psychological effects and some retained speech problems for the rest of their lives.
It was dubbed the "Monster Study" as some of Johnson's peers were horrified that he would experiment on orphan children to prove a hypothesis. The experiment was kept hidden for fear Johnson's reputation would be tarnished in the wake of human experiments conducted by the Nazis during World War II. Because the results of the study were never published in any peer-reviewed journal, Tudor's thesis is the only official record of the details of the experiment.[SUP][1] [/SUP]"

I get "monster/tudor/therapy/22/orphan (ok, this was just a few days ago).

Interesting coincidence, is that Kalbintion Dier Kier" (I've mentioned him/that legend before), the foul-mouthed dissociated personality of Ben', he came from Davenport, Iowa too.

I get loads an' loads of "politics" references.

Martin Luther King - "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Albert Camus - "The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion".
Douglas MacArthur — "Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons."
Albert Camus - "Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear."

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