All posts tagged: Unit 731

Pu Yi as Witness

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history and memory / Manchuria / War Crimes / World War II
Pu Yi in captivity in Fushun, 1956; photo by Dave Lancashire

In his 1946 testimony at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (the Tokyo Trials), Pu Yi, the former Emperor of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo, proved to be an exceptionally difficult witness. The following extract from the IMFTE Proceedings (p. 4,085) seems to capture the obdurate and unproductive nature of his eight-day appearance at Tokyo. Q. On what date was Manchukuo established as a country? A. Please don’t ask me any more about the […]

Germ Warfare and Panda Diplomacy in Tokyo: Unit 731 Excavations

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This is a cross-post from my Japanese War Crimes blog. — AC Unit 731, the bacteriological warfare research wing of the Kanto Army in Manchuria, has been discussed in Japan with varying degrees of postwar intensity, but this discovery in Tokyo last week (via the Guardian) seems poised to bring the activities — and the difficult subject of history in Sino-Japanese relations — back out into the open. Some good reads on the topic include […]

Stories to Follow

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history and memory / Huanqiu Shibao / Korean War / North Korea / North Korean border region / Sino-Japanese Relations / Sino-North Korean relations / War Crimes / World War II

I recommend you watch how these stories develop, since most of them have yet to be really reported in the Anglophone press: 1. Legacies of Japanese imperialism in Manchuria Chinese government organizations and affiliated NGOs are engaged in a struggle to get the old Unit 731 facility (the commemorative site for Japanese biological weapons research and atrocities outside of northeastern city of Harbin) listed as a World Heritage Site.   This story seems to be […]

BW Use in the Korean War: Questioning the Record

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Korean War / North Korea / North Korea-Japan relations / War Crimes

Although Russian documents have allegedly put this controversy to rest, scholars and governments continue to probe at the question of communist allegations of American bacteriological weapons use in the Korean War.  Both North Korea and the PRC continue to maintain in their textbooks and war museums that the U.S. used bacteriological weapons (themselves originally developed by Japanese Unit 731 in Harbin in the 1930s) over Manchuria and North Korea in January and February 1952.  According […]

Unit 731: Korean Victims and World Heritage

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history and memory / Sino-Japanese Relations / Sino-North Korean relations / World War II

As anyone who has read Sheldon Harris’ essential book Factories of Death can tell you, the actions of the Japanese Kwantung Army’s “Water Purification Unit” 731 based outside of Harbin were ghastly and inhumane in the extreme.  And although Unit 731’s mastermind, that European traveller and student of WWI, Ishii Shiro, tried to have the whole immense facility razed before the Soviet Red Army arrived in August 1945, parts of the site remain intact. As […]


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American Foreign Policy / China / Chinese communist party / French / Sino-French Relations / U.S.-China Relations / Yanbian

Everybody loves stories, facts mixed in with dangerous interpretive tinctures.  But today is a day of no comment, of comet-less commas, of post-somatic traumas which embalm us with twisted tatoos of Sarah Palin’s soft-from-unemployment-yet-ready-for-stigmata palms. What a wicked few days its been among the commentariat — probably the only thing really worth reading stems from Alabama, and the mind of one Qiang Zhai.  Nothing has been more central to me of late than this idea […]