Humanity is capable of some horrific things. We like to think that we have evolved past the need for torture and barbarism, but time and again we are shown that this is not the case. The Japanese unit 731 experiments are a perfect example of this. In this blog post, we will explore what these experiments were, who conducted them, and why they were carried out. We will also look at the aftermath of these experiments and see how they affected both the victims and the perpetrators.
Unit 731 was a secret Japanese military unit that conducted human experimentation from 1936-1945. The unit was based in the city of Pingfang district of Harbin, China, and it operated until the end of World War II. The purpose of Unit 731 was to develop and test the effectiveness of biological and chemical weapons as well as study the effects of diseases on human beings. These weapons were then used against the civilian populations during the war.
The unit’s personnel included Japanese doctors and military officers, as well as Chinese and Korean civilians who were forced to work in the unit. It was headed by Shiro Ishii, a lieutenant general in the Imperial Japanese Army. Other notorious Unit 731 doctors included Masaji Kitano and Akira Makino.
So, what were the Japanese unit 731 experiments?
Some of the more heinous experiments conducted by Unit 731 included live dissections, vivisection (operating on conscious patients), amputations, infection studies, exposure to extreme cold and heat, chemical and biological weapons testing, disease injections, controlled dehydration, and hypobaric chamber experiments. Others are said to have been buried alive or drowned.
One of the most notorious experiments conducted by Unit 731 was the “maruta” experiment, in which prisoners were used as test subjects to study the effects of various diseases. The prisoners were deliberately infected with diseases such as cholera, anthrax, and typhus, and then observed to see how their bodies reacted.
Other heinous acts committed by Unit 731:
- The live dissections and vivisections were often conducted without anesthesia, and the prisoners would be conscious and screaming during the entire procedure. In the “vivisection” experiment, prisoners were anaesthetized and then had various organs removed from their bodies without any pain relief. In some cases, prisoners were conscious during these operations and were said to have screamed in agony.
- Amputations were another common experiment conducted by Unit 731. In these experiments, limbs would be cut off from live prisoners and then reattached in a random order, or sometimes not reattached at all. In some cases, the amputated limbs were frozen and then thawed to see how long it would take for the subject to die.
- The “infection studies” conducted by Unit 731 were designed to test ways of deliberately infecting people with diseases. In one experiment, prisoners were injected with various diseases and then left in sealed rooms to see how long it would take for them to die. In another experiment, prisoners were deliberately exposed to anthrax and then observed to see how their bodies reacted.
- The “exposure” experiments conducted by Unit 731 were designed to test the effects of extreme cold and heat on human beings. In the “cold” experiment, prisoners were exposed to sub-zero temperatures until they died of hypothermia. In the “heat” experiment, prisoners were placed in metal boxes that were then heated to high temperatures. The prisoners would often die from dehydration or heatstroke.
- The “chemical and biological weapons testing” conducted by Unit 731 was designed to test the effects of various chemical and biological agents on human beings. In one experiment, prisoners were exposed to mustard gas and then observed to see how their bodies reacted. In another experiment, prisoners were deliberately infected with bubonic plague and then observed to see how their bodies reacted.
- The “disease injections” conducted by Unit 731 were designed to test the effects of various diseases on human beings. In one experiment, prisoners were injected with cholera and then observed to see how their bodies reacted. In another experiment, prisoners were deliberately infected with anthrax and then observed to see how their bodies reacted.
- The “controlled dehydration” experiments conducted by Unit 731 were designed to test the effects of dehydration on human beings. In these experiments, prisoners were deprived of water for days or weeks at a time and then observed to see how their bodies reacted. In some cases, the prisoners died from dehydration.
- The “hypobaric chamber” experiments conducted by Unit 731 were designed to test the effects of high altitude on human beings. In these experiments, prisoners were placed in a chamber that simulated high altitude conditions and then observed to see how their bodies reacted. In some cases, the prisoners died from oxygen deprivation.
Did the Japanese government try to cover up what had happened with Unit 731?
There is no definitive answer to this question, However, there are reports that some of the unit’s facilities were bulldozed and that documents were destroyed following the war which suggests that the government was trying to keep the unit’s atrocities hidden from the public. There are also reports that some of the unit’s members were given immunity from prosecution in exchange for their silence about the unit’s activities. This again suggests that the government was trying to keep Unit 731’s atrocities a secret.
What happened to those involved in conducting the Unit 731 experiments?
The United States, unlike the Soviet Union, offered immunity to those involved in Unit 731. This meant that none of the Japanese scientists involved in conducting horrifying human experiments were going to be tried as war criminals. Instead, many of them went on to have successful careers in different fields.
Some argue that the United States made this deal in order to gain access to the research conducted by Unit 731. Others argue that it was a way to ensure that Japan would be an ally of the United States in the Cold War. Regardless of the reasons behind the decision, it means that those responsible for some of the most heinous crimes against humanity were never brought to justice.
- Shiro Ishii, the leader of Unit 731, was never tried as a war criminal, rather General MacArthur granted him immunity in exchange for his data. It is unclear whether or not Shiro Ishii moved to Maryland to continue his research after the war. However, there are many rumors and theories about Shiro Ishii’s possible whereabouts and activities. The most popular theory is that he worked for the CIA, using his knowledge of biological warfare to help the United States in its fight against communism during the Cold War. Another theory suggests that he may have gone to work for a Japanese pharmaceutical company, using his experience with biological weapons to create new medicines. Whatever the truth may be, Shiro Ishii’s legacy continues to haunt Japan and the world. One thing that most agree on is that he died of throat cancer in 1959.
- Masaji Kitano, Ishii’s successor, went on to become the president of Green Cross Corporation, a Japanese pharmaceutical company. He died in 1986.
- Akira Makino, a member of Unit 731, admitted that he conducted experiments on prisoners and that the experiments were “horrible’ however, he insisted that he was just following orders and that he was too scared to disobey. He died in 2007.
What happened to the victims?
After the war, many of the former members of Unit 731 went on to have successful careers in various fields. Some even went on to work for the US government. However, the victims of their experiments were not so lucky. Most of them died as a result of the horrible experiments that they were subjected to. It is believed that there were approximately 180 survivors of Unit 731’s experiments.
What does this say about humanity?
The Japanese unit 731 experiments are a dark part of our history. They show what humans are capable of when they are given free rein to experiment on other human beings. These experiments also showed how easily we can rationalize these kinds of actions if we believe that we are doing it for the greater good. We like to think that we have evolved past this kind of barbarism, but time and again we are shown that this is not the case. Hopefully, by learning from the mistakes of our past, we can ensure that something like this never happens again.
Please continue to read my future blog post for more in-depth looks into other conspiracies and cover-ups committed by the US government! Contact us if you have any questions or would like to share your own theories! Thank you for reading!