December, 1949 twelve former members the Japanese Army, Unit 731 stood trial in Khabarovsk, Russia accused by the Soviets of manufacturing and using bacteriological weapons and conducting human experiments. The indictment charged these twelve men with “intend[ing] to employ on a wide scale for the accomplishment of their aims, and in part did employ, a criminal means of mass extermination of human-beings-the weapon of bacteriological warfare” and that “Japan had grossly violated laws that violated laws and customs of war,” though their “brutal and inhuman treatment” of “war prisoners and civilian in habitants of the occupied territories.”1 After all twelve defendants plead and were found ...view middle of the document...
4 By the 1930s, the threat of a global war provided Ishii with the government support and experiment materials he needed to study germ warfare.5 Manchuria was the perfect location for Ishii’s research. This region provided the secrecy and privacy needed to conduct biological testing without international interference.6 Manchuria, also, supplied an almost endless supply of multiethnic research subjects. At the Khabarovsk Trial, Kawashima, Chief of the unit’s General Division testified that “Manchuria was convenient because there was adequate experimental material there.” When asked by the Soviet prosecutor if he meant people were the experimental material, Kawashima replied, “exactly.”7
BW experiments were conducted in both Unit 731‘s research facility in Harbin, Manchuria, and were field tested in the Chinese countryside. Within the fortress walls prisoners, men, women, and children were subject to inhumane experiments that included being infected with a variety of biological agents, sexually transmitted diseases, cold experiments, any number of experiments that were designed only to satisfy the researchers morbid curiosity, among other cruel scientific tests, and non-anesthetized vivisection.8 Scientific experiments were designed to or conducted on an individual until they died. Those who lived through multiple experiments were executed. Kawashima, a defendant at Khabarovsk, stated during his interogation in October 1949 that,
“If a prisoner survived the inoculation of lethal bacteria, this did not save hime from repetition of the experiments, which were continued until death from infection supervened. The infected people were given medical treatment in order to test various methods of cure, they were fed normally, and after they had fully recovered, were used for the next experiment, but invected with another kind of germ. At any rate, no one ever left this death factory alive. Following anatomical study the bodies of the dead were burned in the detachments’s incinerator. . .”9
Outside the fortress walls, Chinese villagers were targeted with deadly bacteria and viruses that contaminated water sources and food supplies.10 This information, along with other accused and witness testimony, as well as some documentary evidence of Unit 731’s and Japan’s war crimes were released by the Soviets, shortly after the Khabarovsk Trial.
The materials were released both through diplomatic and media channels.11 The results of the Khabarovsk Trial were printed in newspapers across the U.S. in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. However, many of these reports were not front page news, focused on the use of American prisoners of war in experiments or that America was an intended target of Japanese bacteriological warfare, and made little no mention of the many Chinese, Soviet, or other victims.
These reports were, also, usually accompanied by strong denials of the trial’s authenticity or brushed off as Soviet propaganda....