I have to admit that whilst I was aware that the Nazi’s carried out horrendous medical experiments on POW’s, I was not aware that the Japanese had done the same. Some of the most gruesome atrocities of World War II – medical experiments on Chinese, Russian and American prisoners – were committed in China by Japan’s infamous Unit 731. Unit 731 was first founded in 1932 in occupied China by Shiro Ishi of the Imperial Army of Japan. The Unit 731 complex covered six square kilometers and consisted of more than 150 buildings and was based in the Pingfang district of the city of Harbin in the puppet state of Manchukuo.. The design of the facilities made them hard to destroy by bombing.
Ishii’s “Secret of Secrets” was kept from thousands of employees at Unit 731. Prisoners would pass through tunnel entrances to the “death blocks” of blocks seven and eight, never to return again. The only thing guaranteed when entering either of these blocks was death and pain. The reason Ishii chose the remote location of Manchuria was in order to test specifically on live human subjects. Ishii accumulated most of his subjects from a detention camp called Hogoin in Pingfan. Russians who would not cooperate and give any information after being house at Hogoin would be sent straight to Unit 731. Though, seventy percent of the humans used were Chinese. “Unsuspecting and innocent people were also tricked into the clutches of Unit 731. Some were lured by the prospect of employment. Young boys, mothers and children, even pregnant women, were trapped”. Throughout the existence of Unit 731 in Pingfan, three thousand people were sacrificed. ” The prison was a vision of hell. Through the syphole cut in the steel doors of each cell, the plight of the chained prisoners could be seen. Some had rotting limbs, bits of bone protruding through skin blackened by necrosis. Others were sweating in high fever, writhing in agony or moaning in pain. Those who suffered from respiratory infections coughed incessantly. Some were bloated, some emaciated, and others were blistered or had open wounds. Many of the cells were communal. An infected person would be put with healthy prisoners to see how easily diseases spread. In desperation prisoners would try to practice primitive preventive medicine to escape contagion”. Female prisoners were raped daily and was almost routine among the guards. The doctors used various methods of dispersing the diseases. They could be sprayed invisibly, in gas chambers, or in food, drink, chocolates, melons, or crackers.
Vivisection procedure while patient is alive, performed by Shiro Ishii himself
Prisoners of war were subjected to vivisection without anesthesia. Vivisections were performed on prisoners after infecting them with various diseases. Scientists performed invasive surgery on prisoners, removing organs to study the effects of disease on the human body. These were conducted while the patients were alive because it was feared that the decomposition process would affect the results. The infected and vivisected prisoners included men, women, children, and infants.
Prisoners had limbs amputated in order to study blood loss. Those limbs that were removed were sometimes re-attached to the opposite sides of the body. Some prisoners’ limbs were frozen and amputated, while others had limbs frozen then thawed to study the effects of the resultant untreated gangrene and rotting.
Some prisoners had their stomachs surgically removed and the esophagus reattached to the intestines. Parts of the brain, lungs, liver, etc. were removed from some prisoners.
Vivisections performed on pregnant women, often women who had been impregnated by the doctors themselves.
Prisoners were injected with inoculations of disease, disguised as vaccinations, to study their effects. To study the effects of untreatedvenereal diseases, male and female prisoners were deliberately infected, often by rape, with syphilis and gonorrhea, then studied.
Human targets were used to test grenades positioned at various distances and in different positions. Flame throwers were tested on humans. Humans were tied to stakes and used as targets to test germ-releasing bombs, chemical weapons, and explosive bombs.
In other tests, subjects were deprived of food and water to determine the length of time until death; placed into high-pressure chambers until death; experimented upon to determine the relationship between temperature, burns, and human survival; placed into centrifuges and spun until death; injected with animal blood; exposed to lethal doses of x-rays; subjected to various chemical weapons inside gas chambers; injected with sea water to determine if it could be a substitute for saline; and burned or prematurely buried alive.
Prisoners would be hung upside down to see exactly how long one dies before being choked to death.
Prisoners would be exposed to extremely high and low temperatures in order to develop frost bite. Doctors would study how long a human being could survive before rotting and gangrene set in on human flesh. Extreme high temperatures were used to determine the relationship between temperature and human survival.
Two prisoners were put on a diet of water and biscuits and then worked nonstop, circling the compound loaded with twenty-kilogram sandbags on their backs until they dropped dead. One lasted longer than the other — about two months. This was supposed to be research into malnutrition, like the Minnesota experiment — but, done the Japanese Army way, it was to the death.
Japanese scientists performed tests on prisoners with plague, cholera, smallpox, botulism, and other diseases. This research led to the development of the defoliation bacilli bomb and the flea bomb used to spread the bubonic plague. These bombs enabled Japanese soldiers to launch biological attacks, infecting agriculture, reservoirs, wells, and other areas with anthrax, plague-carrier fleas, typhoid, dysentery, cholera, and other deadly pathogens. During biological bomb experiments, scientists dressed in protective suits would examine the dying victims. Infected food supplies and clothing were dropped by airplane into areas of China not occupied by Japanese forces. In addition, poisoned food and candies were given out to unsuspecting victims, and the results examined.
Of all the thousands of POW’s taken to Unit 731, not a single prisoner survived. It is also a fact that Japan had plans to slaughter the entire prisoner population if and when we invaded their homeland.
Following imminent defeat in 1945, Ishii ordered every member of the group “to take the secret to the grave”, threatening to find them if they failed, and prohibiting any of them from going into public work back in Japan. Potassium cyanide vials were issued for use in the event that the remaining personnel were captured.
Skeleton crews of Ishii’s Japanese troops blew the compound up in the final days of the war to destroy evidence of their activities, but most were so well constructed that they survived somewhat intact.
US General MacArthur secretly granted immunity to the physicians of Unit 731, including their leader, in exchange for providing America with their research on biological warfare. The U.S. believed that the research data was valuable. and did not want other nations, particularly the Soviet Union, to acquire data on biological weapons.
Bodies of victims
Vivisection of a raped girl
A prisoner being buried alive