Throughout history, mans inhumanity to man has had a long and sorry tale. Through all the war atrocities ever committed for any or no reason, few can compare to the intensity and scale of the Nanking Massacre during the Second World War (Chang, Chris. P 55). The most gruesome of the Nanking Massacres experiments were carried out by the Japanese armys Unit 731. What was the purpose of Unit 731? The Japanese government had this group of doctors in various medical fields conduct the experiments on people in an attempt to advance Japans biological and chemical warfare technology.
Through all the horror of the experiments, much was learned that could have help Japan in its chemical and biological warfare development. The Japanese learned that the use of plague bombs worked. The Japanese also made many medical discoveries outside the realm of biological and chemical warfare. In fact, one of the reasons the experiments were even performed was to find vaccines and treatments for diseases that often plagued their own country. (Kristof, Nicholas D. p4) This did not occur very often compared to the other experiments that were being conducted.
The somewhat fruitful experiments conducted by the Japanese army were certainly not an excuse for the Japanese to kill the immense number of people they did. As a result of the Nanking Massacre, the Japanese army murdered over 260,000 Chinese civilians. An additional 20,000 to 80,000 women were raped and mutilated. (Yue, Dongxiau. P. 1) One can easily see how the experiments conducted by the Japanese armys Unit 731 were very cruel and there should have been some consequence for this great atrocity. It all started out when the government of China decided to move the capital from Peking to Nanking in 1928.
The city was beautiful, and had a small population of about 250,000. By the mid 1930s however, the population of Nanking had risen to over one million people. Most of this population cam from refugees trying to flee from Japanese armies which had invaded elsewhere in China since 1931. Finally, on November 11, 1937, the Japanese army decided to take over Nanking. They first secured their control over Shanghai, and started towards Nanking from all directions. By early December, Japanese troops were in the proximity of Nanking. (The Nanking Massacre, p. 1)
On December 9, they Japanese were frustrated with the Chinese not surrendering and decided to launch a massive attack upon the city. By December 13, Japanese forces including army and navy invaded Nanking and took it over that same day. Little to anyones knowledge, the next six weeks would lead to the deaths of over 300,000 Chinese soldiers and civilians, and to the rape of over 20,000 women. (War Crimes, p. 1) The first leg of the Japanese invasion took place at the Yangtze River. On December 13, a large number of civilians tried to cross the river in order to escape from the Japanese.
As it turned out, there was no transportation to bring people across the river, and thousands of people were stranded on the shores. As the Japanese arrived at the shore, the started firing at as many people as possible. Some tried to swim across, but they were shot at also. When the smoke cleared the next morning, an astounding number of men, women, and children laid motionless covering just about the whole river. Over 50,000 innocent people needlessly killed. (The Nanking Massacre, p. 1) This was just the first of the cruel and tragic incidents of the Nanking Massacre. The next incident happened right on the streets of Nanking.
As the Japanese entered the city on December 13, 1937, the streets were covered with over 100,000 refugees or injured Chinese soldiers. The Japanese started firing aimlessly, killing thousands upon thousands of people. The next day as tanks and heavy artillery entered the city, and people were still being killed, bodies were laid out across the two major streets of Nanking. This complete annihilation in the city streets led the streets to be called the streets of blood. (The Nanking Massacre, p. 2) This was the second incident showing complete cruelty on the part of the Japanese.
The next stage of the attack on Nanking was the mass executions of the captives. Before the Japanese army had even entered the city, Chinese soldiers were being captured. The few soldiers that remained ran into the city and changed into civilian clothing. After the captured entered the city on the December 17, the Japanese started arresting anyone whom they suspected of being a Chinese soldier. All these young men including the newly arrested were sent outside of the city to be massacred. This crowd was mostly civilian, but was being murdered from several thousands to tens of thousands of people at a time.
In most cases, they were killed by machine guns and those who survived the shots were individually bayoneted. In a few cases, the Japanese army poured gasoline on the captives and proceeded to burn them alive. In some cases, poison gas was used. (The Nanking Massacre, p. 2) All this goes to show the cruelty and sickness of the Japanese army during the Nanking Massacre. Along with the aforementioned incidents came the atrocities with extreme cruelty. These were again performed on civilians. Here, Japanese soldiers invented their own methods of inhumane and barbaric methods of murder.
These included shooting, stabbing, cutting open the abdomen, excavating the heart, decapitation, drowning, burning, punching eyes and body with an awl, and in some cases, castration and punching through the vagina. (The Nanking Massacre, p. 2) These atrocious acts were committed on people, namely civilians. This was not only cruel, but also unacceptable under any circumstance in any war. Another incident that occurred all throughout the Massacre was the rape of over 20,000 women. Most of these women were brutally killed afterwards. This rape also became utterly disgusting.
The soldiers started to rape girls under ten years old and even women over seventy. They raped pregnant women, and even nuns. Some women were even gang raped. The Japanese in some utterly and unacceptably disgusting cases forced fathers to rape their daughters, and sons to rape their mothers. Those who resisted anything that was asked of them were killed immediately. (The Nanking Massacre, p. 2) All this rampant raping took place in the streets, or religious worshipping places, all in broad daylight. This just added to the despicable crimes that the Japanese were committing in this Massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking.
While the aforementioned atrocities were occurring all around the cities, some were being committed in the zone that was supposed to protect the Chinese people. Atrocities were being committed in the safety zone. The safety zone consisted of over twenty refugee camps, which were supposed to hold 200-12,000 people. During the six weeks of the massacre, the Japanese army frequently entered the safety zone to arrest young men for no particular reason. Every time the Japanese entered, several hundred were arrested and murdered on the spot, right in the middle of the safety zone.
The Nanking Massacre, p. 3) This unmistakably shows that the Japanese were committing these crimes for no apparent reason. The last of the visible crimes committed by the Japanese was the looting, burning, and vandalism. The Japanese took just about everything from the Chinese civilians. This included money, jewelry, coins, animals, food, clothes, antiques, and cigarettes. They robbed the whole town clean. After looting buildings, the Japanese would then set fire to the buildings. They waited at the building for people who would run out, and then they would shoot them.
The buildings would eventually burn down. The Japanese army had burned to ashes what was once a beautiful and historic city. (The Nanking Massacre, p. 3) This whole massacre was all for no particular reason. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were brutally murdered. Through all of this, there was no consequence for the Japanese, making the familys lives a bit more painful. Perhaps the most abhorrent atrocities committed by the Japanese army were done by it’s own Unit 731. They were in control of the chemical and biological warfare development and research.
They were to develop weapons of biological warfare using the Bubonic plague, anthrax, cholera, and dozens of other pathogens. The unit was comprised of over 3,000 researchers and technicians as well as a compound over six square kilometers that included an airport and a railroad. (The Code of Silence, p. 1) Unit 731 had many tools to work with, and a huge research center to develop all of its biological weapons. The hint of Japanese interest in biological and chemical warfare came in 1925 when Japan refused to approve the Geneva Conventions ban on biological weapons.
This first showed the world that Japan was interested in such experiments. The actual start of testing came when Japanese troops invaded the Chinese city of Manchuria. There, a physician and army officer by the name of Shiro Ishii began preliminary experiments. By the year 1936, Unit 731 had formed. This was the first biological warfare unit of the Japanese Army. The Unit disguised itself as a water-purification unit, and started to build huge compounds for testing. The test area consisted of over 150 buildings over six kilometers.
That year alone, over 9,000 test subjects, also referred to by the Japanese as logs, would die at the compound that year. (Germ Warfare Timeline, p. 1) There was more to the biological test than just at the compound. Unit 731 also conducted field tests. In the field tests, they would place diseases in bombs and then drop them over towns and villages to see if the disease would cause an epidemic. This worked very often and tens of thousands of people died this way. (Japanese War Crimes, p. 1) One of the biological warfare tests used animals to kill innocent civilians.
They Japanese would use animals to spread the most powerful of diseases. They would inject this extremely potent disease into rats. A member of Unit 731, Nobuo Kamaden, said, On a 500-gram rat, we would attach 3,000 fleas. When the rats were released, the fleas would transmit the disease. The infected rats and fleas would then be carefully placed into to special porcelain bombs designed to keep the rat alive during the drop from the airplane. (Butler, Steven, p. 1) When the bomb was dropped, the people below would contract the disease, and a huge epidemic would break out and kill thousands at a time.
This was just one of the cruel experiments performed in hope of advancing their field of biological warfare. Perhaps the most gruesome crimes committed by Unit 731 were the human vivisection. As a part of the research, the Japanese would inject certain biological agents into the prisoners and would then dissect the prisoner alive to see what the agent would do to the persons insides. They inserted the scalpel directly from the logs (what the Japanese referred the prisoners as) neck and opened the chest, says Kamada, a doctor in Unit 731.
At first there was a terrible scream, but the voice soon fell silent. (Butler, Steven, p. 1) To get proper results from the tests, the bodies of the prisoners had to be healthy. Unless you work with a healthy body, you cant get results. So if we had a spy who was unhealthy we would feed him good food and make him exercise. It was the height of cruelty, says Kamada. (Butler, Steven, p. 1) After being cut open, the organs of the log would be briefly studied, and then his body would be thrown into the giant pile of bodies that had already met the same fate as the new one coming in.
The entire purpose of the vivisection was to see what the disease would do to a person’s inside. Other cruel forms of torture, which Unit 731 used, lied in a variety of different areas. For instance, some prisoners were soaked in formaldehyde and preserved as a whole body forever. Others were locked up in pressure chamber to see how much pressure the body can withstand. Some were also locked in cages one meter by one meter large to study the effect of a disease on the body while in confinement. (Kristof, Nicholas D, p. 1) Overall, its is very easy to recognize the part Unit 731 played during the Nanking Massacre.
One can easily point out that all the experiments were very cruel, but why was there no consequence imposed on the Japanese? The main reason that the Japanese suffered no consequence is because the United States gave the Japanese doctors immunity in exchange for all their information. The United States did in fact cover the entire Unit 731s doings because they wanted to keep this newly learned, dangerous material out of the hands of their enemies. This crucial information in the hands of the wrong people would have created many problems for the United States.
The Japanese did in fact try to use the chemical and biological weaponry on the Untied States. They used balloon bombs to carry the disease over the Pacific. There are reports of a few people dying from these balloon attacks. There were proposed kamikaze missions where pilots would dump infected fleas on San Diego, but there are no reports that these missions were carried out. Partly because the United States helped the cover-up of the biological warfare program in exchange for its data, General Shiro Ishii, the head of Unit 731 was allowed to live peacefully until his death from throat cancer in 1959.
The doctors of Unit 731 saw their careers flourish after the War. Some doctors held positions including Governor of Tokyo, president of the Japan Medical Association, and head of the Japan Olympic Committee. (Kristof, Nicholas D, p. 1) This added insult to injury in a way because not only were the Japanese doctors not tried for their crimes, they became highly successful and lived a great life, something that the people they were killing might have lived also.
Towards the final days of the operations, the Japanese troops blew up everything to destroy any evidence that may have been left behind. They blew up all laboratories, and killed the remaining logs. An estimated 3,000 people were killed in the laboratories and over 200,000 in field experiments. (The Code of Silence, p. 1) Sixty years after the after the conclusion of these experiments, where men, women, and children were brutally murdered and sexually mutilated in every cruel manner possible, the Japanese government constantly denies the crimes of its Unit 731.
In the Nanking Massacre, over 300,000 civilians were killed along with the rape of over 20,000 women. (Japanese War Crimes, p. 1) In the Unit 731 camps, over 3,000 people were killed, and not a single person who went in, came out alive. Today, only a stone marks all these innocent people whose lives were taken for senseless reasons. These crimes committed by the Japanese Armys Unit 731 were very cruel, and there should have been some consequence for this atrocity.