In the first few months following Pearl Harbor, the Japanese captured over 140,000 Allied prisoners, and it is a well-documented fact that one in four of these men and women died at the hands of their captors.
In each and every theater of operation, there were thousands and thousands of men and women who were tortured, raped and slaughtered.
THE BATTLE FOR HONG KONG
For example, in his book, The Rising Sun, John Toland recounts numerous instances of Japanese troops butchering and raping their prisoners. He describes how, in the battle for Hong Kong, a great defense was put up by a rag-tag army of approximately 1,800 men known as the Hong Kong Volunteer Defense Corps. The regular army more or less looked down on this group, calling them “Playboy Soldiers”. They were a mixture of local British, Eurasian, Chinese, and Portuguese civilian recruits who, in the battle for Hong Kong, fought as well as any soldier and better than most.
However, no matter how well they fought, they could not possibly hold out against the hordes of Japanese that engulfed them. On a Christmas morning, they were overrun and completely cut off at the narrow Stanley Peninsula on the southern end of their island. Uncontrolled groups of Japanese began butchering the wounded and raping Chinese and British nurses.
The main British force at Victoria, the capital of Hong Kong, was next in being overrun. According to Mr. Toland, the Japanese sent two English prisoners, a retired British Major and a civilian, with a message for Major-General C. M. Maltby, who was the military commander of the colony. The message advised the commander that it would be useless to continue the fight, and promised that the Japanese would hold their fire for three hours to allow the British to make up their minds. Maltby held off until 3:15 p.m. before reluctantly ordering his commanders to surrender.
To say the least, it was a humiliating end to British rule in China, but the worst part was that the Japanese, who had promised to treat the prisoners with dignity, continued the horrendous atrocities throughout Christmas night.
THE ABANDONMENT OF AMERICAN SOLDIERS
On this same Christmas day, President Roosevelt was meeting with Mr. Churchill and, shortly afterwards, Mr. Churchill made his famous speech to Congress. When it was over, there was a spontaneous burst of applause.
The American Military, however, were not so enthused. They had just been informed that our impulsive President Roosevelt, had been wheeled into Churchill’s room the previous night for an impromptu meeting where he agreed to consider giving the British the reinforcements which had been promised to MacArthur if the supply line in the Philippines was cut.
Here, Mr. Toland points out that the American Chiefs were outraged and appealed to War Secretary Stimson, who became so angry that he immediately phoned Hopkins to tell him that the president would have to get a new Secretary of War if he kept on making such quixotic personal decisions.
Roosevelt hastened to deny that “any such proposition had been made”. Of course, we know today that MacArthur never received any reinforcements or supplies of any kind, and so had no choice but to leave the Philippines knowing that all was lost. General Wainright was left with the humilitating task of fighting as long as possible and then surrendering.
It wasn’t long afterwards that MacArthur had to leave the Philippines, and of course we all know about the “Death March of Bataan”.
With no reinforcements, there was no stopping the Japanese, and so the atrocities and murders continued unabated.
UNIT 731–JAPAN’S DEATH LABORATORY
The atrocities continued throughout the war, but were mild, in many ways, compared to what went on at Unit 731, located at Pingfan, Manchuria, just outside the city of Harbin. The Japanese called this place the Epidemic Prevention and Water Supply Unit of the Kwantung Army. We called it what it was — a Death Camp.
Unit 731 had a compound of 150 buildings. A part of this compound, Ro Block, was reserved for experiments on live human prisoners. Prisoners would be brought in and used as guinea pigs: men, women, and children — Asians and Caucasians. They were called “maruta”, meaning “logs of wood”.
Some prisoners were purposely infected with disease: cholera, typhoid, anthrax, plague, syphilis. Others were cut up while they were still alive to see what happened in the successive stages of hemorragic fever. Others had their blood siphoned off and replaced with horse blood. Many others were shot, burned with flame-throwers, blown up with explosives and left to develop gas gangrene, bombarded with lethal doses of X-rays, whirled to death in giant centrifuges, subjected to high pressure in sealed chambers until their eyes popped out of their sockets, electrocuted, dehydrated, frozen, and even boiled alive.
Two prisoners were put on a diet of water and biscuits and then worked nonstop, circling the compound loaded with twenty-kilogram sandbags on their backs until they dropped dead. One lasted longer than the other — about two months. This was supposed to be research into malnutrition, like the Minnesota experiment — but, done the Japanese Army way, it was to the death.
Of all the thousands of POW’s taken to Unit 731, not a single prisoner survived. To the last man they were slaughtered. It is also a fact that Japan had plans to slaughter the entire prisoner population if and when we invaded their homeland.
UPDATE FROM THE STARS & STRIPES NEWSPAPER–MARCH 15-28, 1999
The following information was taken from the Stars and Stripes Newspaper, week of March 15 – 28, 1999. Vol. 122 No. 6.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters)—A prominent Jewish group accused the United States on March 4 of giving amnesty to Japanese doctors and scientists who carried out atrocities during World War II.
“The United States now admits in writing that they shielded these people who had carried out horrific atrocities from prosecution by the Soviets and handed them tickets to re-enter Japanese society at a very high level.” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told a news conference in Los Angeles.
Cooper produced a letter written to him in November by Eli Rosenbaum, director of the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, in which Rosenbaum said research confirmed that Japanese Lt. Gen. Shiro Iishi, commander of the infamous Unit 731 of the Japanese Imperial Army, and his men had received total amnesty following the fall of Japan in 1945.
“Iishi and his colleagues received immunity from prosecution and in exchange they provided a great deal of information to U. S. authorities,” the letter said.
In particular, Cooper said, they provided the results of “field tests” in which hundreds of thousands of civilians in China and eastern Russia were exposed to and died from deadly germs such as anthrax and the plague.
“In essence, the United States said ‘Look, the Russians want you for killing their citizens. Give us the information we need and we will shield you from them and we won’t prosecute you either’,” Cooper said.
In addition, Cooper said, prisoners of war from Australia, New Zealand, Europe and possibly the United States were the subjects of Iishi’s “diabolical and horrendous medical experiments” which sometimes ended in them undergoing vivisection.
Shortly before Japan surrendered in 1945, Cooper said, the order went out to kill all the prisoners in the “death camps” run by Iishi, who died of cancer in 1959.
Cooper called on the U. S. government to rescind the amnesty order protecting the remaining members of Unit 731 and other Japanese who had engaged in medical experiments or chemical or biological warfare.
Cooper also urged the government to add the names of suspected Japanese war criminals to the immigration department’s “watchlist,” which denies entry into the United States for war crimes suspects.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, Cooper said, wants congressional action to open up the records that led to amnesty for members of Unit 731, as well as giving doctors and scientists access to the information on medical experiments and biological and germ warfare tests that U. S. Authorities received in return.
Ro Block at Pingfan was where the Japanese kept killing human experimental subjects under so called scientifically controlled conditions: but the book on starvation, torture and murder could have been written on the tortured dead bodies of prisoners in Japanese prison camps anywhere.
It seems that nothing would stop the Japanese doctors from experimenting on POW’s, civilians and or local natives.
For example, a doctor at Rabaul on New Britain took blood from Japanese guards with malaria and injected it into POW’s, in an attempt to prove — contrary to accepted medical doctrine — that there was such a thing as immunity to malaria. He told the POW’s he wanted to go to the United States after the war, to the New York clinic, and that if his experiments were successful he might become a very famous man.
At Shinagawa, the head doctor did operations and gave injections no Western doctor would have approved: caprilic acid, soybean extract, sulfur, castor oil, serum from malaria patients, and urine. He enjoyed seeing pain; he bled men to death for plasma.
At Tantui on Ambon, the camp doctor took nine groups of ten prisoners each, ranging from men classified fit, to hospital cases, and injected them with something supposed to be vitamin B and caseine. About 50 of the men died — more than half.
The commanding officer of a Japanese naval hospital, a fleet surgeon, killed eight prisoners experimentally. He would tie tourniquets on their bodies for hours, then remove them suddenly, causing death by shock. He used injections of streptococcus bacteria to cause blood poisoning. He would also blow them up with dynamite and spear them with bamboo spears until they died. After death, their bodies would be dissected and their heads cut off and boiled in liquid.
On Guadalcanal, two prisoners were caught trying to escape. To stop them from trying again, the Japanese shot them in their feet. Then a medical officer dissected them alive, cutting out their livers. One of the Japanese watching wrote in his diary: “For the first time, I saw the internal organs of a human being. It was very informative.”
In another camp, a POW was tied to a tree, his fingernails torn out, his body cut open, and his heart removed. On the Japanese home island of Kyushu, some doctors used prisoners as guinea pigs to see if they could live with parts of their brain and liver cut out. In China, Japanese doctors shot living men in the stomach so they could practice removing bullets out of wounds. They amputated arms and legs, sewed intestines together, and took out teeth and appendixes and brains and testicles — all for “practice”. One doctor, with two prisoners to “practice” on, chopped the head off one to test his own strength.
From start to finish, the Japanese stonewalled about what they were doing to conquered peoples in their captured territories.
Where POW’s were concerned, the Japanese government issued an all-purpose announcement: “In the generous spirit of bushido, all captives are being accorded the best possible treatment, and they are unanimously expressing appreciation of Japanese magnanimity.” From then on, the Japanese kept saying that abuses were nonexistent, or that the allegations were being “looked into.”
However, stories had come out early in the war about the atrocities in Hong Kong, the mass murder and rape after the fall of Singapore, and on and on. Official Allied protests piled up — British, Australian, American. By 1944 the United States alone had a backlog of eighty-nine protests unanswered.
Officially, the United States and her Allies were afraid to take any positive action about the atrocities because they were concerned the Japanese would only increase their torture, murder, rapes, etc.
Today, we know that the Japanese slaughtered POW’s when they were winning the war, and they slaughtered POW’s when they began to lose the war.
I do not believe that any action on the part of the allies relative to the Japanese atrocities, would have put our POW’s in any more danger than they were already in.
The western nations still hadn’t learned how to deal with the oriental mind-set when it came to treatment of prisoners. Our officials were trying to deal and make policy based on our western ideals, not on how the Japanese looked at issues. To this day, we are still making decisions based on these same principles, and we keep losing in the war of words and in our economic treaties.
Granted, the Allies had some valid reasons for fearing what the Japanese would do to their POW’s if we took drastic action or made a big deal about the atrocities at Unit 731, etc. That, however, does not excuse what the Allies, and especially the United States, did after the war was won and over.
ABANDONED IN THE NAME OF “SCIENCE”
Officially, the U.S. agreed not to bring the murderers of Unit 731 to justice in return for access to the “research data” gathered on these thousands of Allied POW “guinea pigs” who were slaughtered at Unit 731!!
I pose the question again, how could the Americans and other Allies have the unmitigated GALL to “forgive” these atrocities in the name of “research”?! Not only was this done, but our country participated in the cover-up and kept it secret for several decades.
As a Marine veteran of the Pacific war, I cannot bring myself to forgive the Japanese their atrocities, nor can I forgive what my own country did after the war. At times, if I allow myself to think about these atrocities and the part MY country played to get the “research data”, I literally get sick and throw up.
In war, it is difficult not to become like the enemy. After seeing and learning of all the atrocities committed by the Japanese, some American, British, and Australian soldiers took out their revenge on the enemy. The Australians, in particular, were bitter and took their revenge. Early in the war, the Japanese in the Malaya campaign, at Parit Sulong, would take the Australian POW’s, truss them all together with barbed wire, bayonet them, pile them up, dead or alive, machine-gun them, then pour gasoline over the entire mass of dead and still-living humanity, and set them on fire.
There were several massacres like this against the Australian POW’s, so one can understand that the Australian soldier was filled with hate and vengeance. Needless to say, the Australians didn’t take many prisoners after that.
I can remember, during the battle for Saipan, when one night a marine came up missing. The next day he was found dead. His fingernails had been torn out, his tongue cut out, and his body showed signs of torture. It was very difficult to keep one’s humanity toward an enemy that would do that.
However, I know for a fact that, if the Japanese had treated their prisoners according to the Geneva Convention rules of war, there would have been no acts of personal revenge by the average allied soldier.
Yet, when you read your “history” books, you don’t read about Japanese atrocities. You read about ALLIED “atrocities” — which were rare in comparison — most Japanese prisoners were treated in accordance with the rules of the Geneva Convention.
Today, there is not one American in ten thousand that ever heard of these Japanese atrocities committed against our troops. Our “history” has never mentioned one word of the tens of thousands of men slaughtered — not in battle, but slaughtered for “medical research” and the pure pleasure of their captors. Not one single so-called journalist has had the courage to inform the American citizen of what really happened.
However, when I or another veteran dares to mention these horrors, we are accused of “Japan bashing”. When and if we dare use the word, “Jap”, we are criticized for using racial slurs and being unfair to the good peace-loving Japanese people. I was THERE, I LIVED the TRUE history — I SAW the results of their campaign of terror, which was waged against civilians as well as allied soldiers.
How many Americans today know that, immediately after the war, Japan officially started a campaign to refocus the world’s interest and knowledge about the war? They set out to re-invent history by continually denying any and all charges concerning the Rape of Nanking, Unit 731, and all other reports of atrocities. The Japanese government appointed a group of five people to actually re-write their history, eliminating any and all negative references concerning the war.
Today, Japanese children read nothing about the atrocities, about Unit 731, or the thousands of other torture camps operated by the Japanese military. They ARE, however, brainwashed with volumes of information about how the United States used the Atom bomb on thousands of innocent civilians, and how we and our allies were the real villains of World War II.
AND OUR GOVERNMENT ASSISTED IN THIS RE-WRITING OF HISTORY!!!
What did YOU read about in your history books? The holocaust? And the dropping of the Atom Bomb? You read all about Eichmann and the evil Dr. Mengele — where did you read about Unit 731? Did you ever even HEAR of Unit 731?
By and large, the world, not just Japan, has bought into this great lie. Even our own people are beginning to believe that our Nation was the aggressor in our fight with Japan. People who were not even born when we were fighting in the Pacific have appointed themselves as experts on the War and condemned the role of the United States.
In my own home town of San Diego, California, there is a college professor teaching his students today that the United States, with their embargo on oil and steel against Japan, gave them “no choice” but to take drastic action, as in the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. According to him, the attack on Pearl Harbor was OUR fault!
Americans? WHERE is our history? Where are our defenders? Where have all the patriots gone? Where is our country today?
Tell me America, is there any wonder that we still have 78,751 service men and women missing in action from World War II?
Yes, we SHOULD ask, “Where Have all the Flowers Gone?”
If any one out there is interested in reading about how our prisoners were treated and the truth about the big sell-out after the war, then please locate and read the following books: “The Rising Sun” by John Toland; “Prisoners of the Japanese”, by Gavan Daws, “Goodbye Darkness” by William Manchester and most importantly The Rape of Nanking; The Forgotten Holocaust of WWII, by Iris Chang.
All four authors are fully knowledgeable on the subject matter and extremely qualified to write on any aspect of the war.
In doing research for this page, I used numerous books and articles. Some specific information about Unit 731 came from articles by John Lehman, former Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, and from books by John Toland and Gavan Daws.
The following article was taken from the Stars and Stripes paper in an issue dated October 20 – November 2, 1997. It was written by Yvonne Chang of Reuters.
Japanese Ex-soldier Details ‘Unit 731’ World War II Atrocities Before Tokyo court.
Tokyo–A former Japanese military police officer October 1, became the first Japanese to admit in civil court that he committed atrocities against the Chinese during World War II. “I would tie up the prisoner’s hands and feet and cover his nose with wet cloth so that he couldn’t breathe….We then poured heated wax from a burning candle on his feet but he wouldn’t give the information we wanted,” Yuktaka Mio, 83, testified at the Tokyo District Court.
Families of Chinese victims believed to have been murdered by the infamous Unit 731, which conducted germ warfare experiments on live prisoners in China during World War II, filed a lawsuit in 1995 demanding the Japanese government pay compensation of $826,000. “I believe that the Japanese government should acknowledge this fact and apologize and pay compensation for what it did. And I pray that this becomes the voice of the Japanese people,” he told the court.
Mio, a former officer of the “kempei-tai,” Japan’s notorious wartime military police, testified that he arrested and sent four Chinese men to Unit 731, known as the “Ishii Unit” after the unit’s commander, General Shiro Ishii. Families of two of the men, Wang Yauxuan and Wang Xuenian, are among the 10 plaintiffs in the case.
Acting on secret orders from Emperor Hiroihito, the Japanese army set up germ warfare units code-named 731 and 100, which conducted experiments and tested biological agents on live prisoners of war. None survived the experiments. The four Chinese Mio arrested on spy charges were eventually taken to Harbin in northeastern China where the unit was headquartered.
The kempei-tai alone sent close to 600 Chinese prisoners to Unit 731, according to Mio. “It was all a big secret. We didn’t know what that unit did, but we knew that it was a frightening unit and that once you were sent there, you never came back alive,” he said. While he was not directly involved in experiments conducted by Unit 731, he said he also bore responsibility as the unit would not have been able to operate without people like him. “Unit 731 was able to exist because of the kempei-tai, which provided it with people to experiment on. Sending someone to Unit 731 was an act of murder,” Mio said.
He recalled meeting the son of Wang Yauxuan in 1995. “He told me , ‘My father wouldn’t have been killed if it hadn’t been for you.’ I couldn’t respond,” Mio said. Mio said in an interview after his testimony that he received threats and malicious phone calls for promising to appear in court. But I don’t care….It’s my duty to pass on what I know to everybody else,” he said.
All documents related to Unit 731, including a list of all Chinese sent by the kemplei-tai to the unit, were destroyed at the end of the war. Mio’s acts were recorded in documents made in China when he was detained there as a prisoner of war. After the war, Ishii and his colleagues were granted immunity from prosecution for war crimes by United States authorities in exchange for all of the data on their experiments.
Former 4th Division Marine
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