Materials on the Trial of Former Servicemen of the Japanese Army Charged with Manufacturing and Employing Bacteriological Weapons

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Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1950 - Bacteria - 534 pages
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Text is concerned with the trial before the Military Tribunal of the Primorye Military Area.

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Google Books is to be congratulated for shining a light on one of the most heinous and yet still largely unknown episodes of World War II, via the free publication for the general public of the English language version of the materials released on the 1949 Khabarovsk War Crimes trial. Published originally by Moscow's Foreign Languages Publishing House in 1950, the trial documents the examination of the use of biological weapons and illegal human experimentation, including thousands of "terminal" experiments, by members of the Japanese military unit most closely identified with this program, Unit 731.
Written off by some as a Stalinist "show trial" -- and there undoubtedly are some elements of that here -- the facts examined at Khabarovsk have been established to be true by Western historians. The book is divided into pages of documentary proof, testimony by the accused and various witnesses, the state prosecutor's case, statements by the defendant's attorneys, and of course the verdict itself. I have personally found the reading of this trial material to be one of the most amazing and emotional experiences I've ever had. You cannot read this book and be unaffected.
The question remains: why has the worst use of biological weapons and illegal human experiments, even dwarfing the crimes of the Nazis, gone mostly unremarked for almost three generations?
The ramifications of the decision by the Japanese government to research bacteriological or "germ" warfare on prisoners, killing thousands of them via inoculation of biological toxins, and then wage biological warfare across China and parts of the Soviet Union in the 1930s and 1940s, are still resonant in Asia today. It is not unusual to hear in Chinese or North Korean propaganda references to the crimes of Unit 731.
The actions of the Japanese emperor and his Army to unleash biological warfare -- led by the infamous general Shiro Ishii -- went unremarked during the Toyko War Crimes trials at the end of World War II. The reason for this was likely due to the established fact that the U.S. made at the time a secret agreement to amnesty all the personnel involved in Japan's Unit 731, "Detachment 100," and other assorted BW experimental and operational units, with the aim of gathering all the data gathered by Japan's illegal human experiments and operational experience with biological weapons for itself.
The Soviets, stymied in their attempt to get the matter brought up at the Tokyo trials -- the U.S. dragged its feet on even letting the Soviets interview BW chief Ishii, who was under house arrest by the Americans -- turned to their own separate trial of captured personnel from Unit 731 and the Kwantung Army, spurred on by popular resentment against the Japanese imperialist army and the dreaded Kampetei, who had kidnapped hundreds of Soviet and Chinese citizens for terminal use as guinea pigs in the Unit 731 dungeons at Pingfan, Manchuria. At moments, the anger of those in attendance at trial is even noted in the proceedings.
Some of the documentary material regarding the decision by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE, or Tokyo War Crimes trials) not to pursue biological warfare charges against the Japanese have been published digitally online at a special site dedicated to the Tokyo trials by the University of Virginia Law Library (URL:
For historians, both amateur and professional, finding original documents, such as the Khabarovsk trial materials, was next to impossible, unless you had the money and perspicacity to search out rare copies of the printed version of selected materials. Now, thanks to a review of the copyright legality of publishing this material, initiated at my request, Google has published this important historical text for all readers to use.

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Page 289 - Yoshimura [Hisato noted] that at times of great frost, with temperatures below —20 [sic], people were brought out from the detachment's prison into the open. Their arms were bared and made to freeze with the help of an artificial current of air. This was done until their frozen arms, when struck with a short stick, emitted a sound resembling that which a board gives out when it is struck.
Page 469 - Japan, with its purely feudal organisation of landed property and its developed petite culture, gives a much truer picture of the European middle ages than all our history books, dictated as these are, for the most part, by bourgeois prejudices. It is very convenient to be "liberal" at the expense of the middle ages.
Page 104 - ... Supply Unit, as the expanded Togo Unit had become formally known) was "formed by command of the Emperor of Japan Hirohito. Issued in 1936." Kajitsuka, who had served as chief of medical administration of the Kwantung Army, noted: 'The Emperor's command was printed and copies of it were sent to all units of the Japanese Army for the information of all the officers. I myself was shown this command and the detachment's personnel list accompanying it, and certified the fact with my private seal.
Page 220 - Particulars Regarding Other Atrocities": "The enemy's Tama detachment [another name for Unit 1 644] carried off their civilian captives to the medical laboratory, where the reactions to poisonous serums [were] tested. This detachment was one of the most secret organizations. The number of persons slaughtered by this detachment cannot be ascertained.
Page 406 - The Tribunal is of the opinion that a war of aggression against the USSR was contemplated and planned throughout the period under consideration, that it was one of the principal elements of Japan's national policy and that its object was the seizure of territories of the USSR in the Far East.
Page 236 - Have the patient think that your whole attention, mind and all, are fixed on his or her welfare ; but this must be done in such a way as not to seem superficial.
Page 13 - Detachment 731 alone was capable of breeding, in the course of one production cycle, lasting only a few days, no less than • 30,000,000 billion microbes. . . . Detachment 731 and its branches also engaged in the wholesale breeding of fleas for their infection with germs," and possessed 4,500 incubators for breeding fleas on rats and mice.
Page 57 - I can say that the number of prisoners of Detachment 731 who died from the effects of experiments in infecting them with severe infectious diseases was no less than about 600 per annum.
Page 289 - In January 1945 ... I saw experiments in inducing gas gangrene, conducted under the direction of the Chief of the 2nd Division, Col. Ikari, and researcher Futaki. Ten prisoners . . . were tied facing stakes, five to ten metres apart. . . . The prisoners' heads were covered with metal helmets, and their bodies with screens . . . only the naked buttocks being exposed.
Page 523 - VERDICT In the name of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR, consisting of: President...

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