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Foreign Victims of Japanese Germ Experiments Unveiled

Chinese historians Monday unveiled the name list and detailed document of foreign victims who suffered the human experiments for germ warfare convicted by Japanese troops during World War II (WWII).  

It's the first time for Chinese scholars to make public name list of foreign victims. Twenty one people were "specially transferred" by the invading Japanese Kwantung Army to Unit 731, which is notorious for making experiments on living humans to develop germ weapons.


Jin Chengmin, director of the research institute on 731 unit in Harbin who found out all the confidential documents, said yesterday, "Information of only 1,463 victims has been recovered, and a lot of work needs to be done for discovering more documents about foreign victims."


There were 16 former Soviet Unions citizens and five Korean on the name list. Besides, fragmentary files of some Mongolian victims have waited for further confirmation. Most of the victims were prisons of war and secret agents.


All these documents were buried in a confidential file piles left by Japanese in archives of Beijing and northeast China's provinces, and luckily not destroyed by the Japanese invaders when they retreated in 1945.


The already unveiled documents covered the name, gender, age, home country, occupation, living address, arrest sites of those victims, with pictures of one victim.


Horrible wartime atrocities were carried out on Chinese and foreigners by a secretive Japanese detachment called Unit 731. Their crimes shocked the whole world when it was first uncovered nearly 60 years ago.


At least 3,000 people, with Chinese civilians as the majority, and foreign victims from Russia, Mongolia and Korea, died in the experiments between 1939 and 1945.


In 1939, Japan's Unit 731 of the Kwantung Army set up a top-secret, germ-warfare research base in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang Province.


When the Soviet army took back Harbin in 1945, the Japanese blew up the base. The secret could have remained buried forever, but a tenacious Japanese journalist dug out the truth in the 1980s.


In October 2000, 900-plus pages of confidential documents belonging to Unit 731 about the germ experiments done in northeast China were discovered by Matsumura, a Japanese scholar, in a library's warehouse of a medical collage in Japan and have been transferred to Chinese scholar Bu Ping.


The file, contains key research thesis showing that the troop had spread pestis bacteria in northeast China's Nong'an and Changchun cities in the 1940s. It records in detail the way the pestis bacteria was produced and spread, the conditions of the affected viscuses, and the relationship between plague and climate.


The documents disclosed that Unit 731 was assigned to study germ weaponry on humans in Harbin, Unit 100 to study its effect on animals; that the Japanese aggressors engaged, for the fist time, in germ warfare along the Sino-Mongolian border in 1939, which caused the death of many horses and soldiers from the Soviet-Mongolian army; and that Japan later made use of its "lab achievements" several times in China, leading to 200,000 casualties.


The files made public this time will provide more concrete evidence for victims to make lawsuits and ask for compensation, said Jin Chengmin.


(Xinhua News Agency August 3, 2005)

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