Reader Mail

Pawns of leading-edge 'research'

front-page Feb. 22 article “Work starts at Shinjuku Unit 731” prompted me to make a few comments as a student of the Chinese language who visited the Biological Warfare Unit 731 site in the Pingfang district of Harbin, China. (The Shinjuku site in Tokyo is said to have been research headquarters for Unit 731.)

We walked around the Harbin site and saw the gigantic remains of boiler-room chimneys against the blue sky. I recalled pictures in a book about the unit. At the memorial museum, a woman who was invited was kind enough to talk to us. It was a five-hour drive from her house. She sobbed while describing how terrible her family life was after her father was forcibly taken to the site as a living subject (during World War II). We learned of the atrocities conducted by the unit.

I still wonder why the unit leader, Dr. Shirou Ishii, a microbiologist and lieutenant general in Japan’s Kwantung Army, was not put to death. He received immunity from war crimes prosecution by the Allied Forces in exchange for the unit’s germ warfare data gathered through vivisection. According to some books about the unit, Ishii’s house was used as a brothel for U.S. military officers after the war. Ishii himself is said to have been baptized and sometimes had consultations with patients for free.

Like Japan’s military forces stationed in Manchuria, the leaders of Unit 731 ran away before the Russians invaded. The general population has always been victimized by the privileged!

masayuki aihara

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