Unit 731

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

On a lot of the sites that I post on, people inevitably say when I mention 'Unit 731' or ANYTHING to do with Japan during the second world war ... 'That was over 50 years ago. Time to forget'.

I wish it could be so easy.

You see, due to the Official Secrets Act, the revelations about what actually occurred during the war have been sealed to the world and have only JUST come out from behind the 'veil of secrecy'.

Individual Chinese citizens have been trying to sue the Japanese government for things done to them during the war for over 50 years however the Japanese courts have been allowed a peculiar defence stating that there is 'no evidence'.

Actually, there is evidence, it is just sealed.

Unit 731, the 'Mengle-esque' unit responsible for biological and chemical experimentation was not even acknowledged to have existed until the early 1990's by the Japanese Supreme court but the government itself refused to acknowledge its activities.

Due to the veil of secrecy being lifted, this is some of the information that is coming to light:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20050815a1.htm [Broken]

What do you think?

Should we forget?

Should we really ignore what happened as a result of Japan's activities?

Ishii is said to have killed 12 times the number of victims of Mengele and yet he was PAID for his information by the US government.
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
I agree that these people should have been taken to trial. Guilty parties don't always go to jail though. Quite often they strike bargains for a get out of jail free card.
Should the arrangements that were made no longer be honoured? If so I would think that you would have to consider the arrangements made illegal so should those that made those arrangements be prosecuted too?
 
  • #3
TheStatutoryApe said:
I agree that these people should have been taken to trial. Guilty parties don't always go to jail though. Quite often they strike bargains for a get out of jail free card.
Should the arrangements that were made no longer be honoured? If so I would think that you would have to consider the arrangements made illegal so should those that made those arrangements be prosecuted too?
I don't think there were any official arrangements not to prosecute.

I think they just 'failed to bring suit' in return for information.

Unfortunately, from some of the other information I have read on the subject, this 'conspiracy' seems to go as high as the presidency.

A 137-page counterintelligence file from the National Archives which had been declassified, makes it clear that U.S. intelligence agents not only covered up war crimes against Americans, but also aggressively protected the architect of those crimes, Lt. Gen. Shiro Ishii.

"At the request of Nationalist Chinese officials who heard about "bacteriological experiments upon Chinese and Americans as human guinea pigs," the U.S. counterintelligence corps prepared a report on Ishii, the head of Unit 731, according to a July 24, 1947, memo. The document makes it clear that a high-level U.S. intelligence officer, Col. Philip Bethune, quashed the report after informing his agents that " no information is to be released to any agent as data on subject is classified as top secret." The agent who wrote the memo, identified only by the initials WSC, also wrote that "Col. Bethune desires no further action be taken in this case. No further action was taken."

Months later, on April 15, 1948, it was noted for the record that "It is of a highly sensitive nature, and that every precaution must be taken to maintain its secrecy."

A report dated April 18, 1947 from the legal section of Gen. MacArthur's headquarters, specifying that the Unit 731 investigation was "under direct Joint Chiefs of Staff order." "Every step, interrogation, or contact must be coordinated with this section," said the report by Lt. Neal R. Smith of Report of Investigation Division, Legal Section, " The utmost secrecy is essential in order to protect the interests of the United States and to guard against embarrassment."

Some of the reports were labeled "Commander in Chief" that leaves little doubt that US President Truman was informed of the events. President Truman also withdrew the 1925 Geneva Protocol outlawing Chemical and Biological Weapons from Senate ratification of protocol in 1947.

http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/packages/ccic/cnd/InfoBase/NJMassacre/germ-warfare1.html
http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/08/28/1030508070534.html?oneclick=true
 
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  • #4
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Does anybody else find it deeply ironic that right now the WH is actively trying to hide photos and videos of war crimes at Abu Ghraib? They're not even releasing the reasons why they're hiding the evidence.
 
  • #5
PerennialII
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Never forget. The dirty deals, arrangements, failures to carry legal action etc. that have been made should belong to the same category, power doesn't supersede laws and treaties as obvious and naive as it is. For that purpose alone cleaning under the rugs serves a purpose, thinking about our day and age it doesn't appear that lessons have been learned.
 
  • #6
russ_watters
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The Smoking Man said:
'That was over 50 years ago. Time to forget'.
This isn't about forgetting, its about lawsuits.

What do you think the statute of limitations should be on such lawsuits? Should children, grandchildren, etc. be allowed to sue?

In the US, there is a (small) movement for getting decendants of slaves reparations for work performed 150+ years ago. Do you think that is reasonable?
 
  • #7
russ_watters said:
This isn't about forgetting, its about lawsuits.

What do you think the statute of limitations should be on such lawsuits? Should children, grandchildren, etc. be allowed to sue?
When the evidence required to sue is buried in the name of 'national security' and lawsuits are repeatedly being thrown out, what do you think?

These are not grand kids, by the way ... in most cases, they are the principals.

Also, there is no statute of limitations on murder and crimes against humanity.

Are you implying becasue the crimes were committed 50 years ago, they have no basis in law?
 
  • #8
russ_watters said:
This isn't about forgetting, its about lawsuits.

What do you think the statute of limitations should be on such lawsuits? Should children, grandchildren, etc. be allowed to sue?

In the US, there is a (small) movement for getting decendants of slaves reparations for work performed 150+ years ago. Do you think that is reasonable?
Ms. Wang Xuan is called by some as " The Joan of Arc of China". She was interviewed by PBS and BBC for their documentary films, including: "Unit 731: Nightmare in Manchuria", "Rotten Foot Village" and the most recent "Avoiding Armageddon".

She used to live in rural village called Yiwu on China's east coast. She shows visitors the Tragedy Pavilion which lists 1,500 plague victims, and describes how Unit 731 dropped plague-infected fleas from aircraft and killed 20 villagers a day at one point in 1942. She then leads visitors through the gray-brick Buddhist temple where the Japanese performed autopsies to gauge the impact of their biological tests.

Ms. Wang has assembled 180 Chinese victims and sued Japan, charging that Japan had spread bubonic plague and other diseases in China during WWII. However, in 2002, Tokyo District Court rejected their claim for an apology and compensation.

I should add that this was the test case where the Supreme Court of Japan was forced to admit the presence of Unit 731 since they had a Japanese participant testify as to what he did.
 
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  • #9
arildno
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Well, and then it is the matter with our beloved Werner von Braun.
Made quite a career for himself in the US, didn't he?
The old f*cking Nazi.
 
  • #10
russ_watters said:
This isn't about forgetting, its about lawsuits.

What do you think the statute of limitations should be on such lawsuits? Should children, grandchildren, etc. be allowed to sue?

In the US, there is a (small) movement for getting decendants of slaves reparations for work performed 150+ years ago. Do you think that is reasonable?
Only in November 1995, after US declassified documents pertaining to the weapons, did the Japanese government admit that it had used "lethal gases". according to a report in 2001 by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

During the final weeks of WWII, Japanese lmperial Army truckloaded thousands of WMD Chemical Weapons, including mustard gas and another lethal toxin and dumped them into the Nen River, northeast China. The dumping was part of a secret campaign to erase evidence of Japan's Chemical War against China.

Only recently the Japanese government begun to admit to their work on these weapons of mass destruction by Unit 516, Japan's top-secret WMD Chemical Weapons research facility in Qiqihar, China.

They now have until 2007 to clean then up.
 
  • #11
Skyhunter
The Smoking Man said:
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20050815a1.htm [Broken]

What do you think?

Should we forget?

Should we really ignore what happened as a result of Japan's activities?

Ishii is said to have killed 12 times the number of victims of Mengele and yet he was PAID for his information by the US government.
We went after Saddam in Iraq for using chemical weapons, why not Japan?

Uh, nevermind. I have just been informed that Japan doesn't have oil.

Sorry about the sarcasm, I couldn't help myself. :devil:

I would like to think that the US would be more willing to help the victims of such crimes, not pay the perpetrators for the data collected from chemical and biological experiments conducted on human beings!
 
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  • #12
loseyourname
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Skyhunter said:
We went after Saddam in Iraq for using chemical weapons, why not Japan?
Perpetrating an all-out war for four years and then dropping two nuclear bombs on them doesn't constitute going after them?
 
  • #13
Art
loseyourname said:
Perpetrating an all-out war for four years and then dropping two nuclear bombs on them doesn't constitute going after them?
I understood it in the context of going after war criminals to bring them personally to justice as is being done to Saddam.
 
  • #14
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Art said:
I understood it in the context of going after war criminals to bring them personally to justice as is being done to Saddam.
Not nuking 150.000 inocent civilians.
 
  • #15
russ_watters
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The Smoking Man said:
These are not grand kids, by the way ... in most cases, they are the principals.
For crimes comitted 50 years ago? I find that a little hard to believe.
Also, there is no statute of limitations on murder and crimes against humanity.
That's true, but if the defendant is dead, there isn't anyone to prosecute.
Are you implying becasue the crimes were committed 50 years ago, they have no basis in law?
No, I'm implying that since the crimes were comitted 50 years ago (actually, 50-70), virtually all the people involved are likely dead.

In any case, reading that article, it doesn't say anything about lawsuits or aything else that should be done with this info, its just reporting facts. In fact, with the recent resurgence of anti-Japan sentiment in China, the purpose of bringing this up again may simply be a justification for hate. So I guess I really need to be asking you: are you interested in lawsuits, prosecuting offenders (do you know for sure some are still alive?), looking for reparations (again, do you know for sure some of the victims are still alive?), or just looking for a reason to hate? What do you hope can be accomplished by pursuing this??

From what I understand, there are no more general reparations being paid by Germany for WWII.
 
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  • #16
Skyhunter
loseyourname said:
Perpetrating an all-out war for four years and then dropping two nuclear bombs on them doesn't constitute going after them?
I thought that was for Pearl Harbor, not for using chemical weapons on their neighbors.

And I was being sarcastic. :tongue:
 
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  • #17
russ_watters said:
For crimes comitted 50 years ago? I find that a little hard to believe. That's true, but if the defendant is dead, there isn't anyone to prosecute. No, I'm implying that since the crimes were comitted 50 years ago (actually, 50-70), virtually all the people involved are likely dead.

In any case, reading that article, it doesn't say anything about lawsuits or aything else that should be done with this info, its just reporting facts. In fact, with the recent resurgence of anti-Japan sentiment in China, the purpose of bringing this up again may simply be a justification for hate. So I guess I really need to be asking you: are you interested in lawsuits, prosecuting offenders (do you know for sure some are still alive?), looking for reparations (again, do you know for sure some of the victims are still alive?), or just looking for a reason to hate? What do you hope can be accomplished by pursuing this??

From what I understand, there are no more general reparations being paid by Germany for WWII.
Russ, all I can say is that I am glad you are posting here because it is people like you that prove the premise of this thread. Thanks.

Let’s see, you assumption is that if this happened 60 years ago then the people all must be dead.

Well, this is exactly what we would expect from the American perspective that only sees their 18 to 20 year olds going off to war.

Unfortunately, when a war is fought ON your soil, even babies get caught up in those nasty little machinations.

In a recent lawsuit in China, one of the victims testified to what happened to her in the war as a ‘comfort woman’. She was raped over 3,400 times. She’s 76 now. The state denied the whole ‘comfort women thing’ happened too. She was only 13 at the time.

Another of the ‘comfort women’ was a victim of venereal disease and a subsequent birth left her child blind, deaf and dumb. Is this child a ‘victim’?

The whole issue of 'comfort women' was brought to light when a recent document proved that it was a MILITARY DIRECTIVE that created the comfort woman program. Until then, the Japanese had claimed that a) the women were willing participants and that b) it was local crime bosses that were responsible for it and not the military.

In the case of Unit 731:
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.
You will note the apology from the government that they are requesting?

Japan has NEVER apologized officially for what happened in the war ... and even if they had ... what have they apologized for when the courts have continually denied what they did due to the 'lack of evidence' due to the official secrets act?

How about this Russ?:http://www.cbc.ca/news/viewpoint/vp_yu/20050608.html [Broken]
For 63 years, Mr. Chen Chong Wen has had to change the bandages on his leg daily. His home-style remedy for his oozing wound is to use a playing card to stop the flow. “There’s no medicine for this,” he said, “it hurts very much and it itches.”

The stench of rotting flesh is overwhelming as he shows his leg. His open sore is terrible-looking and has a tofu-like texture. He feels he’s been a burden to his family because they have to take care of him. “It’s my bad luck,” he says and looks down at the ground.

Chen was infected with “rotten leg disease,” it’s also known as glanders, as he was running away from the Japanese Imperial Army in Zhejiang province in 1942. His mother was also infected. And not too long after her heel rotted off, she died in terrible pain.
Yeah, where would be the justice in compensating a man infected with Glanders at the age of 3 who also lost his mother, who has lived in pain for the last 60 years and has had the expenses related to being an invalid all his life?:sarcasm:

Oh, and Russ, the defendant is JAPAN and the Japanese government. Japan can't die.
 
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  • #18
Skyhunter said:
I thought that was for Pearl Harbor, not for using chemical weapons on their neighbors.

And I was being sarcastic. :tongue:
Well, we all know the USA starts wars and then decides on the reason later.
:tongue:
 
  • #19
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Thank you smoking man for pointing this stuff out, nothing makes me more angry than people spouting off bs worthy of tv punditry in its idiocy (gj russ!!). :mad: :mad: :mad:
 
  • #20
Art
Perhaps the victims would have more success if they were to sue the American gov't for their complicity in covering up these attrocities after the war?
 
  • #21
Art said:
Perhaps the victims would have more success if they were to sue the American gov't for their complicity in covering up these attrocities after the war?
I can just hear Russ' reaction to THAT!!! :rofl:
 
  • #22
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  • #23
Hurkyl
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Is anyone else bothered with the small, technical matter that the entity that perpetrated these crimes doesn't exist anymore?
 
  • #24
Hurkyl said:
Is anyone else bothered with the small, technical matter that the entity that perpetrated these crimes doesn't exist anymore?
Okay all you people ... pull out your globes and see if you, like I can find the islands of Japan.

Now look a little closer and see if you can find the Yasukuni Shrine.

See if you can catch a glimpse of the little pamphlets.

http://edition.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/asiapcf/east/08/13/japan.shrine/

Where war criminals are venerated

Tuesday, January 14, 2003 Posted: 12:08 AM EST (0508 GMT)

The Yasukuni Shrine is dedicated to about 2.5 million people who have died in Japan's conflicts between 1853 and 1945.

Their names are inscribed in the shrine's Book of Souls, and venerated as "gunshin", or war gods.

In 1978, 1,068 convicted war criminals, among them executed wartime prime minister Hideki Tojo and 13 other Class A war criminals, were secretly enshrined there.

The shrine's authorities are reluctant to accept the verdict of war crimes tribunals, and history.

"War is a really tragic thing to happen, but it was necessary in order for us to protect the independence of Japan and to prosper together with Asian neighbors," explains a pamphlet published by the shrine, aimed at children.

Referring to the convicted war criminals, the pamphlet says: "Some 1,068 people, who were wrongly accused as war criminals by the Allied court, were enshrined here."

About eight million people a year visit Yasukuni, according to the shrine's website, many to pay respects to their ancestors' "mitama," or souls remaining on earth to watch over their descendants.

The shrine, situated in central Tokyo just outside the moat to the Imperial Palace, was established in 1869 as the Tokyo Shokonsha, or Shrine for Inviting the Spirits, during the reign of Emperor Meiji.

The shrine was intended to venerate those who died in the struggle to reassert imperial rule in place of shogun warlords.
shrine protests
Protesters have tried to dissuade Koizumi from visiting the shrine

Ten years later it was renamed Yasukuni Shrine, which means Shrine for Establishing Peace in the Empire.

More than two million people killed in the Pacific region during World War II are commemorated.

"Owing to the meritorious services of the spirits of the deities worshipped, the nation enjoys peace and security," the shrine explains on its website.

After the war ended, the US-led occupation forced the shrine to become a private religious foundation.

It has remained so, despite the efforts of members of the conservative, ruling Liberal Democratic Party to restore state protection.

Koizumi, who took office in April, is the third Japanese premier to visit the shrine since 1978. There was a 1985 trip by Yasuhiro Nakasone and a visit by Ryutaro Hashimoto on his birthday in July 1996.
They not only exist but they have forgiven those executed of missdeeds and made them war heros.

Yasukuni is a shrine for the country's WAR DEAD ie. those killed in battle.

In 1978, they enshrined the people executed after the war ended for war crimes.

At what point do they acknowledge the date these people died?

At what point do they see what was done was wrong?
 
  • #25
Hurkyl said:
Is anyone else bothered with the small, technical matter that the entity that perpetrated these crimes doesn't exist anymore?
What I meant by that Hurkyl was that one of the people convicted for 'life' by the tribunal was let out in 1956 and went on to become the Prime Minister of Japan.

Another went on to become the Governor of Tokyo.

Others, the crowd working for Unit 731, started up the Pharmaceutical company 'Green Cross' and sat on the board of directors for a number of years. It is now the largest Pharmaceutical in the world.

It doesn't exist in your mind however becasue you have your hero 'Douggie MacArthur' who rebuilt their economy in return for favours.

It really DOES exist and they want to be armed again.

And they want a UN veto on the Security Council before all the secrets are out.
 

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