Moral Low Ground


Japan Excavating Possible WWII Prisoner Experiment Site

Unimaginable barbarism in the name of medical research.

Excavations are underway at the site of a former medical school west of Tokyo where an 88-year-old former nurse says the Japanese military performed horrific experiments on prisoners during World War II. The nurse, identified by the BBC as Toyo Ishii, claims workers at the site were ordered to bury dozens of bodies and body parts at the end of the war in order to hide them from the Americans who would soon occupy Japan. “We were going to be in trouble, I was told, if American soldiers asked us about the specimens,” the elderly former nurse said.

The site is believed to be linked to the notorious Unit 731 of the Japanese Imperial Army, which performed shocking experiments on living prisoners that often resulted in their agonizing deaths. The horrible atrocities committed by Unit 731 and other Japanese doctors and scientists in the name of “medical research” would make the Nazis proud. A group of American POWs, captured in 1945 when their B-29 bomber was shot down, died horrifically slow and painful deaths as they were dissected alive. Their tormentors are then alleged to have eaten the American’s livers.

Now Japanese officials are excavating the site near Tokyo where Ishii claims other experiments were conducted. But Kazuhiko Kawauchi, a Health Ministry official, isn’t even sure they will find anything there. And “if anything is dug up, it may not be related to Unit 731,” he added. That may be so. But unlike the Germans, who still unfairly live with the shame of Nazism’s stain, the Japanese have been very reluctant to discuss or even to admit to the heinous atrocities committed during the imperial era. The Japanese government still hasn’t officially acknowledged that the atrocities of Unit 731 even happened.

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