Tokyo and Washington continue to keep under wraps what happened in the Japanese army’s research laboratories in Manchuria during the war, an American historian studying Japan’s biological warfare said, noting that in this sense, the atrocities linger on more than half a century later.
Referring to the notorious Unit 731’s alleged experiments on live prisoners, Sheldon Harris, a professor at California State University, said, “Two generations of Japanese citizens have grown up totally ignorant of these events.
“We in the United States are also guilty of not teaching our young people about what happened (during Japan’s war with China),” he said at a gathering at the Bar Association Building in Tokyo Monday.
Harris said a full admission of the facts would incriminate both the Japanese and U.S. governments. Following the war, U.S. Occupation forces conspired with Japanese scientists and doctors to exchange results of experiments on humans for immunity from prosecution as war criminals, he said.
The result has been “50 years of amnesia” about crimes as serious as those committed by Nazi war criminals, he said. “The U.S. military occupation authorities, in cooperation with the new Japanese democratic government, sanitized Japanese history.”
He added that many Japanese who carried out experiments on humans went on to become successful researchers and scholars in Japan, including Ryoichi Naito, founder of the now-defunct pharmaceutical firm Green Cross Corp., who is known to have been a key member of Unit 731.
Harris, who has spent more than a decade studying information the U.S. obtained from Japan after the war, is author of “Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932-45, and the American Cover-Up.”
Such information, while legally available to the public under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, has still not been fully disclosed, Harris said.
Some of it remains confidential for reasons of national security, while some has simply disappeared, he said.
Harris came to Japan to testify Monday before the Tokyo District Court on behalf of 108 plaintiffs representing Chinese victims of Japanese biochemical warfare experiments.
The Japanese government, he said, has continually denied knowledge of wartime medical experiments on humans and ignored the complaints of those involved.
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