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Fearful exposes of Japanese Unit 731's crime(1)
2007-03-21 11:14:42 [ Big Normal Small ]     Comment

Unit 731 was a covert medical experiment unit of the Imperial Japanese Army that researched biological warfare through human experimentation during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) and World War II. It was responsible for some of the most notorious war crimes carried out by Japanese personnel. Officially known by the Imperial Japanese Army as the "Political Department and Epidemic Prevention Research Laboratory", it was initially set up as a political and ideological section of the Kempeitai military police of pre-Pacific War Japan. It was meant to counter the ideological or political influence of enemies, and to reinforce the ideology of military units.

The unit was disguised as a water purification unit, and was based in the Pingfang district of the northeast Chinese city of Harbin, part of the puppet state of Manchukuo. It worked through Japanese political propaganda and as an ideological representative of the Imperial Japanese Army's Kodoha (Imperial way faction, or war party). In the first phase this section drove against communist propaganda, but extended its responsibilities in other directions, at home and overseas.

It was a rough equivalent to the NKVD political sections and or politruk (political commissar) units of the Soviets; or the German Nazi SS propaganda departments. They promoted racial superiority, racialist theories, counterespionage, intelligence, political sabotage and infiltration of enemy lines. They liased with the Manchukuo military police, the Manchu intelligence service, regular Manchu police, Manchu Residents committees, local Nationalist Manchu Parties and the Japanese Secret Service detachment in Manchukuo. The section in Manchukuo used some agents from White Russian, Chinese, Manchu, Mongol and other foreign backgrounds for special services or covert actions at home and abroad.

As many as ten thousand people, both civilian and military, of Chinese, Korean, Mongolian, and Russian origin were subjects of experimentation by Unit 731.[1] Some American and European Allied prisoners of war also died at the hands of Unit 731.[2] In addition, the use of biological weapons researched in Unit 731's bioweapons program resulted in tens of thousands of deaths in China – possibly as many as 200,000 casualties by some estimates.[3]

Unit 731 was one of many units used by the Japanese to research biological warfare; other units included Unit 516 (Qiqihar), Unit 543 (Hailar), Unit 773 (Songo unit), Unit 100 (Changchun), Unit 1644 (Nanjing), Unit 1855 (Beijing), Unit 8604 (Guangzhou), Unit 200 (Manchuria) and Unit 9420 (Singapore).

Many of the scientists involved in Unit 731 went on to prominent careers in politics, academia and business. Some were arrested by Soviet forces and tried at the Khabarovsk War Crime Trials; others, who surrendered to the Americans, were granted amnesty in exchange for the data collected.[4]

Because of their brutality, Unit 731's actions have now been officially considered by the United Nations as war crimes.
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