Friday, May 11, 2012

"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you" - Unit 731 in Manchuria

View from a Tokyo New Transportation System

Unit 731 in Manchuria

After WWII there was a medical doctor in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, who was so kind that he did not even request consultation fees to his neighbors.  The doctor especially took care of children nearby.

Shiro Ishii was a controversial man as he led a special unit of the Imperial Army in Manchuria to study biological warfare.  Accordingly, ex-medical lieutenant general Ishii could have been executed by the occupation forces which set the Far East Military Tribunal in Tokyo to judge Japanese war criminals after WWII.  Ishii during the war had reportedly ordered to use living prisoners of war, namely arrested Chinese, Manchus, Koreans, and even Russians, for experiments and tests to study effects of decease-causing bacteria on the human body.  It is said that his unit, called Unit 731, sacrificed 3,000 prisoners of war for human experimentation during WWII.  
Unit 731 was a covert biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese Army that undertook lethal human experimentation during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) and World War II.... 
Unit 731 was based at the Pingfang district of Harbin, the largest city in the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo (now Northeast China)....

Many of the scientists involved in Unit 731 went on to prominent careers in post-war politics, academia, business, and medicine. Some were arrested by Soviet forces and tried at the Khabarovsk War Crime Trials; others surrendered to the American Forces. 
On 6 May 1947, Douglas MacArthur, as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, wrote to Washington that "additional data, possibly some statements from Ishii probably can be obtained by informing Japanese involved that information will be retained in intelligence channels and will not be employed as 'War Crimes' evidence." The deal was concluded in 1948.

But how precious Ishii's study was for the American military?
But once the war ended and Japan was under U.S. control, the victor became the vanquished. 
To avoid prosecution as war criminals, Ishii and his cohorts offered to share their data with U.S. officials in exchange for protection.

Ft. Detrick scientists Edwin Hill and Joseph Victor agreed the Unit 731 scientists’ lips would loosen if an immunity deal was on the table.

Colonel Murray Saunders, a Ft. Detrick military officer tasked to uncover information about Japan’s biological warfare program concurred, recommending that General Macarthur offer Unit 731’s perpetrators immunity.

While only a limited number of U.S. documents mention Unit 731, a documented link can be made from Saunders and Macarthur all the way up to President Truman.

A 2006 document released by the National Archives entitled "Researching Japanese War Crimes: Introductory Essays" details a 1950 memo describing clemency issues related to the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal.

The memo revealed that the U.S., at the time, was seeking ways to dismiss any new evidence against Japan that the Soviets might produce.

According to the Virginia-based nonprofit World Future Fund, Ishii’s Unit 731 "research" was meant to give the Japanese military an upper hand on the battlefield, but wound up benefiting the U.S. military instead.

The U.S. was secretly delighted to gain such information derived from experiments that they themselves were forbidden to perform, and even happier that the Soviets wouldn’t have access to Ishii’s results.

It is said that one US medical officer got delighted that he obtained information that could be only gained through human experiment from former Unit 731 officers while such human experiment was impossible in the US.  American investigators from the beginning had no intention to arrest and execute Ishii and other officers of the Imperial Army involved in development of biological weapons.  Those American experts were more eager to produce reports with excellent academic results than to carry out punishment for those Japanese war criminals.

From 1945, when the Empire of Japan collapsed, to 1948, former lieutenant general Ishii was hiding in Japan with help not only from former military elites of the Empire but also from the US military.  Ishii even held funeral rites for himself in his hometown around Tokyo.  Those ex-Imperial military elites were afraid that Ishii's past might, if revealed to the public, involve them in persecution by the allied forces as identified war criminals.  The US military did not want to share the medical data Ishii could provide with the Soviet Union.  They all helped Ishii hide somewhere in Japan or specifically around Tokyo.

But Ishii's whereabouts became unknown between 1948 and 1958, a period of time when the Korean War was fought by the US military against North Korea, China, and virtually the USSR.

So, some people think that Shiro Ishii, an ex-Imperial medical lieutenant general, was secretly recruited by Americans to take part in some military operation in the Korean Peninsula during the Korean War.  There is a possibility that Ishii helped conduct a biological attack on communists in cooperation with an American special unit.  Even there is a rumor that Ishii was invited to some medical facilities in America run by the US Government.

In fact, one of Ishii's subordinate officers in the Imperial Army so strongly cooperated with American investigators as to become a friend of one of those Americans.  Their friendship continued so long while the ex-Imperial officer launched a blood bank as the first in this field in Japan.  Decades later, a company founded as an extension of this blood bank, however, started a trouble of providing blood derivatives for hospitals which were made from contaminated blood imported from the US and other countries.

In 1958 Ishii made his appearance in an alumni meeting of ex-young soldiers of the 731 Unit held in Tokyo.  He said to his former subordinates, "I know you suffered enough after WWII as you worked in Unit 731.  But now I want you to be proud of your past work.  Sometime in future, at appropriate timing, I will make public the great results of our study in Manchuria to the world..."

Then one year after this meeting, Ishii died of larynx cancer quietly in a Tokyo hospital, at the age of 67.

However the existence of the special unit 731 indicates the darkest side of the Imperial military of Japan, since it is believed that soldiers from Unit 731 were actually engaged in biological warfare against China during the war between 1937 and 1945.  It is also against international conventions to use prisoners of war as human guinea pigs.  Therefore, when Tokyo decided to surrender to the US and other allied nations in August 1945, Ishii and other leaders of Unit 731 ordered soldiers to destroy all the evidence for their secret operation in Manchuria.  But the most important evidence, general Ishii and other officers were not demolished.
Aerial View of Unit 731 Headquarters in Manchuria

(to be continued...)

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Mat 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.