Monday, January 26, 2009

Plague as an offensive manuever

During the second sino-japanese war, plague was used as a bacteriological weapon by the Imperial Japanese Army. These weapons were provided by ShirĊ Ishii's units and used in experiments on humans before being used on the field. For example, in 1940, the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service bombed Ningbo with fleas carrying the bubonic plague. During the Khabarovsk War Crime Trials the accused, such as Major General Kiyashi Kawashima, testified that, in 1941, some 40 members of Unit 731 air-dropped plague-contaminated fleas on Changde. These operations caused epidemic plague outbreaks.

1 comment:

John Latto said...

The Japanese biowarfare program that began in earnest in the Sino-Japanese war continued through the Second World War.

At the end of the war in Europe there was a rush to snatch up German rocket scientists in Europe. It was possibly the success of this program that led to a similar US attempt to find Japanese scientists involved in the biowarfare program.

Although the Soviet Union did prosecute some for war crimes (and if anything was a war crime, then this surely was) the US granted freedom to all researchers in exchange for information on their human experiments. Some went on to found successful pharmaceutical companies and even published postwar research articles on human experiments, replacing 'human' with 'monkey' when referring to the experiments in wartime China.

You can read all about this shameful part of history in
Sheldon Harris's 2002 book Factories of Death. Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932-1945, and the American Cover-up.