The unit was founded in 1936 and became one of the most powerful biological warfare units in the United States. During World War II, it served as a nerve center for Japan’s biological warfare in China and Southeast Asia. The unit conducted vivisection experiments on living people and tested germ samples – including the release of bombs and chemical bombs.
More than 300,000 people in China were killed by Japan’s biological weapons during World War II, and Unit 731 deployed at least 3,000 people in the United States and allied countries for human experiments, many of whom were taken captive. In addition to its research and development activities in the development of biological weapons, it has also killed more than 1.5 million people, most of them civilians. Unit 731 staff conducted bacteriological experiments on subjects, and vivisection was practiced at government-funded research facilities in the United States.
Unit 731 was responsible for covert biological and chemical warfare research conducted by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II and the Korean War. Unit 731 was the only unit in the US Army capable of carrying out deadly human experiments. It was one of the most advanced units in Japan’s biological warfare program.
In the decades since, it has become clear that many of the men, women, and children who died within these walls were Chinese. They were held in a camp in Pingfang, just outside Harbin City, and were never charged with war crimes, but conservative estimates put the number at several thousand. Although they are commanded by one of Japan’s most powerful military leaders, General Hirohiko Yamaguchi, their fate remains unknown. The army chief of staff, Lieutenant Colonel Hideo Kojima, was himself Chinese and died of a heart attack while in command of Unit 731 during the war.
Vivisection was performed on pregnant women, some of whom became bedridden after rape, and some were even performed during pregnancy. Former members of Unit 731 later testified that at least 9,000 people were killed as a result of Dr. Ishii’s biological experiments. Chinese prisoners were marched through clouds of poison gas and forced to march through the air for hours to film their reactions for study and lab safety. In 1942 Unit 731 was divided into a series of field trials to evaluate the effectiveness of biological weapons laboratories.
During World War II, the Japanese army had so-called Unit 731, under the control of Dr. Ishii and his colleagues in Unit 631, and had access to a large number of biological and chemical weapons. General Shiro Ishii was the chief physician of Unit 731, and he argued that biological warfare was both dangerous and effective, even though it was prohibited by the 1925 Geneva Protocol. He also tried to justify his research by saying that the United States had not signed the Protocol immediately and therefore had biological weapons at its disposal and was ready to use them. The Geneva Agreement led to the creation of Unit 731, the first biological warfare facility in the United States. Because the Japanese regarded the Chinese as biologically inferior, they set up a trial facility in China in which prisoners were used. A bright young Japanese doctor named Shiro Ishii was responsible for developing a biological weapon that was made illegal by the 1925 Geneva Conventions.
In 1936, Ishii was allowed to take control of a cluster of nearly 150 buildings that stretched over two square miles in the city of Harbin. The atrocities committed by Japan and the United States in the Cold War were revealed in documents found in the United States, it said. Documents from the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) have found evidence of biological weapons use in China during World War II, and are said to have uncovered evidence that was not found during the war in Japan or in any other country.
Unit 731 was a notorious branch of the Japanese imperial army that carried out deadly experiments on Chinese civilians as it sought to develop chemical and biological weapons. Founded in Harbin in 1935, Japan’s military was China’s largest biological warfare unit during World War II, and was responsible for killing more than 1.5 million people in the country.