In April 2018, the National Archives of Japan disclosed the names of 3,607 members Unit 731. Behind the innocuous sounding name, Unit 731 was responsible for some of the most hideous medical and germ warfare experiments during World War 2.

Unit 731 was involved in research on more than 20 types of bacteria including anthrax, smallpox and botulinum. About 3,000 people worked at its headquarters in Harbin in what was then Manchuria, causing an estimated 3,000 deaths to it’s human subjects.

unit 731 war crimes names

A doctor from Unit 731 conducting experiments on his human test subject.

With its members granted immunity by the USA after the war for access to the research, the activities of Unit 731 have long been kept secret. Katsuo Nishiyama, professor emeritus of Shiga University of Medical Science and head of the group that requested the disclosure, said that “it is the first time that almost all of the real names and addresses of the unit’s members have been unveiled as a definitive and official document.”

The names, from a roster dated Jan. 1, 1945, includes names, ranks and personal information of 52 surgeons, 49 engineers, 38 nurses and 1,117 combat medics, mainly those attached to the headquarters of the unit, which was officially known as the Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department of the Kwantung Army.

unit 731 war crimes names

A list including the names of thousands of members of the Imperial Japanese Army’s secretive Unit 731 has been disclosed by the National Archives of Japan. A group led by Katsuo Nishiyama, a professor emeritus at Shiga University of Medical Science, led the effort to get the information released. | VIA KYODO

Nishiyama announced the disclosure of the list at a news conference in Kyoto last month.

Unit 731, established in 1936 to develop biological weapons. It experimented mostly on Chinese and Koreans who had been arrested on ”espionage” charges. The experiments included infecting prisoners with germs before performing live vivisections on them, and deliberately causing frostbite to observe the process of necrosis.

Nishiyama applied for disclosure of the list in 2015. The list was released with almost all of the names blacked out. The list released last April still has the details and information of some members kept secret so there is still not full disclosure.

unit 731 war crimes names

Members of 741 in safety gear carry one of their victims.

A group led by Nishiyama has been collecting signatures to pressure Kyoto University to decide the legitimacy of a university degree given to one of the medical officers in the unit, arguing his dissertation may have been based on experiments performed on live human subjects. “Kyoto University has not made independent efforts to verify or atone for its role in wartime research. We hope that our petition will precipitate further verification by Kyoto University to look into the legitimacy of the dissertation,” Nishiyama states.

Nishiyama’s group’s website draws on examples of suspected human experimentation that were disguised as experiments on monkeys. One example refers to a “monkey” that “complained of headache, fever, and lost appetite” — circumstantial evidence that indicates the experiments were conducted on humans instead. Nishiyama said he hoped “the disclosure of the official documents will help in shedding more light on the unit and its history.” He went on to say that he “personally believes that Unit 731 has a collective responsibility to account for its war crimes, and that those crimes must be atoned for as a way of showing that those crimes will never be repeated.”

For Further Reading Check Out:

Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932-45 and the American Cover-Up

For Related Articles See:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Past and Present WWII History Posts