The Trial of Unit 731
June 6, 2001 7:09 AM   Subscribe

The Trial of Unit 731 "is the forgotten war-crimes prosecution of the 20th century." In 1949, Soviet courts tried a unit of the Japanese Imperial Army for wartime biological weapons experimentation on human subjects.

This article contains some gruesome descriptions.

posted by dfowler (8 comments total)
"Zhang Bo, a 40-year-old driver, says he sometimes brings a surprising kind of visitor down from central Harbin. "Japanese tourists often come here. The old people fall down on their knees and pray. The young people -- judging by their faces afterward, they think it's funny."

History is so easily forgotten. That was a slap-in-the-face article. It always is when I see or read anything about any of the wars that happened in the last century.
posted by margaretlam at 7:25 AM on June 6, 2001

Yet the effort of the Khabarovsk trial was not completely wasted. The evidence gathered has proven useful to war-crimes victims and their descendants who are suing the Japanese government for compensation, said Katsuhiko Yamado, executive secretary of the Tokyo-based Society to Support the Demands of Chinese War Victims.

have the comfort women been having much success? i also read somewhere that henry kissinger has been named in the pinochet trial.
posted by kliuless at 8:29 AM on June 6, 2001

Unfortunately, out of this tragedy another one has spawned. Unlike in Germany, where you would be hard-pressed to find a schoolchild that has no knowledge of what Mr. H and his fascist friends (does that avoid Godwin's Law?) pulled off during WWII, until 1997 there was nothing whatsoever taught about these atrocities in Japan.

The movie about these experiments sounds like it's as moving as Schindler's List. Has anybody seen it?

This site has a lot of information about the Unit and its activities, although it definitely comes across as anti-Japanese. (all links via memepool)
posted by OneBallJay at 8:51 AM on June 6, 2001

"After the war, the American's captured General Isshi (the man behind Camp 731) but the Russians were after him too. You see, everyone wanted to get their hands on the material and data that the Japanese had gained through human experimentation. The Russians asked the Americans if they knew where Isshi was hiding. Naturally, the Americans had the general and told the Russians that they were still actively looking for Isshi. Actually, Isshi was escorted by the British to Maryland in the US where he worked in a bacteriological and chemical weapons laboratory. Isshi worked for two years so that the Americans could perfect their biological warfare and was granted his freedom. During the outbreak of the Korean War, the Americans sent Isshi to Korea. However, there is no proof that he helped the Americans in their biological campaign, but Isshi was in Korea for sure, as I have seen the archive documents."
posted by tranquileye at 9:12 AM on June 6, 2001

accountingboy, the film is called Man Behind The Sun. It has something of a following among the horror/gore flick crowd, from what I understand. I have seen a couple of stills from it in one of my Asian cinema books and they were very, very disturbing.

Real corpses were used for some of the experimentation scenes; a man is put in a decompression chamber until his intestines pop through his rectum; a woman has the skin from her hands peeled away after a frostbite experiment; and a real, live cat is thrown into a sea of real, live, starving rats, and we watch as the cat is killed.

No Schindler's List this.
posted by tranquileye at 9:23 AM on June 6, 2001

Ewww. Thanks tranquileye.
posted by OneBallJay at 10:25 AM on June 6, 2001

It's stories like these that make me wish there really was a God. If He existed, he could wipe the slate clean and start over with the lizards and cockroaches.

People are shit. Present company excepted.
posted by UncleFes at 12:10 PM on June 6, 2001

This site has a lot of information about the Unit and its activities, although it definitely comes across as anti-Japanese.

Given what they did, I can somewhat understand why they would be anti-Japanese.

These articles are quite instructive, especially for those anti-A-bomb revisionists who keep trying to change history by painting the Japanese as the victims in WWII.
posted by darren at 6:20 AM on June 7, 2001

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