The World Health Organization officially categorizes biological agents as weapons of mass destruction. These deadly agents have had a dark history - particularly in World War II. Pioneered in Unit 731, Japan notoriously produced various biological weapons in the 1940s with the intent to release them on a large scale. Struck by the dangerous potential of these agents, the United States produced a secret report detailing the history of these biological weapons in January of 1944. In this five-page document, the author draws from research in Britain and Germany to evaluate the probable risks associated with anthrax and botulinus toxin.
Unit 731 was created in 1938 by the authorization of Emperor Hirohito in Japanese-occupied Manchuria not far from Pinfang with the aim of developing biological weapons. Unit 731 was supported by Japanese universities and medical schools which supplied doctors and research staff. Organized under the alias of The Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department of the Kwantung Army, Unit 731 operated as a covert chemical and bacteriological warfare research and development, conducting and responsible for some of the most atrocious war crimes of imperial Japan. Unit 731 was led by General Shiro Ishii.
by Adam Jue
This primary source is situated inside a folder that is labeled, “TOP SECRET.” Inside the folder is a duo of letters dating back to 1944 from Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, and a follow-up from President Franklin Roosevelt. There is also a summary of the new responsibilities given to the War Department after Roosevelt’s authorization. So what do these top-secret responsibilities entail? Biological warfare.
The Time United States Recruited Volunteers from the Army for Science Experimentation- No, Captain America Wasn't Created
by Rachel Clayton
Science and Technology is undoubtedly a critical front during any war. In the United States, research was done in defense against atomic, biological, and chemical warfare. Volunteers were used in this research, as opposed to enemies of the United States, who sometimes used forced victims. In this 1953 report, one of the first tenants of such research is stated, “The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential” (3). There were other regulations, such as using only the bare minimum of volunteers, all unnecessary physical and mental suffering was to be avoided, and “the degree of risk to be taken should never exceed that determined by the humanitarian importance of the problem to be solved by the experiment” (4).
by Merja Pyykkönen
After the horrors of what chemical warfare had applied to humans in World War I, several countries took upon matters to discuss about the prohibition to use such measures in war. As one of the leading forces behind the 1925 Geneva Protocol agreement, the United States strongly opposed any usage of biological or chemical warfare. Despite the fact that the U.S. failed to ratify the agreement until the year of 1975, their negative attitude concerning chemical warfare continued all the way up to the outbreak of World War II, when it became evident that some of the participant countries of the war had begun to take measures on both biological and chemical warfare.
by Sun Woo Park
During the Japanese occupation of Shanghai during the Second Sino-Japanese War, Nazi Germany realized the importance of Shanghai not only for its importance as one of China’s largest cities but also for its importance as a staging ground to spread propaganda. In order to wedge distrust between the Chinese and the Americans, German propaganda agents worked to plant the seeds of doubt amongst the Chinese. For example, in 1941, with the Axis Powers having conquered nearly all of continental Europe, the Germans and Japanese “embarked on a campaign to discredit the American dollar,” pointing out to readers in the Monetary Gazette how the fall of Europe and the ongoing realignment of global power would put into doubt how stable America’s economy would be in the foreseeable future.
by Sophie Dewees
The years leading up to World War II saw an increase in the use of biological and chemical warfare in Japan, spearheaded by Major-General Ishii Shiro. BW most commonly took the form of anthrax, glanders, and plague, while chemical warfare included tear, smoke, and other poison gases. The proliferation of these two tactics in Japan, outlawed by the 1929 Geneva Convention, was enabled by the mechanized nature of the project. Shiro had great factories built in Manchuria and other areas of China. These “factories of death” included the infamous Unit 731 and were developed for research and human experimentation revolving around chemical and biological warfare.
by Haddie Beckham
Unit 731, led by the infamous Japanese scientist, Ishii Shiro, was a covert laboratory tasked with preparing Japan for chemical and biological war against belligerents. Masscarading as the Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department” in Harbin, China, Unit 731 was in fact a covert biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese Army, conducting barbaric human experimentation on prisoners. Prisoners of war (mainly Chinese, but also Mongolian and Russian) and local alleged criminals were routinely subjected to inhumane testing for biological weapons. Within the prison walls, no less than 3,000 people were murdered annually within the period from 1937–1945 for the sake of developing weapons not only meant for war but also for the destruction of populations. The numbers of humans killed were unknown since they were known as logs or marutas, and were incinerated right after they were experimented on. Additionally, Unit 731 tested biological weapons in the surrounding areas of Manchurian, China, killing an estimated half a million people.
Born on October 12th, 1891, Prince Konoe Fumimaro was the 24th head of one of the most ancient and noble Japanese families, the Fujiwara. Dating back to 646, the House of Fujiwara has been one of five Japanese families "Gosekke," meaning five regent families from which Japanese emperors often were chosen. In the 11th century, they ruled over Japan and, in 1202, they took the name of Konoe.
by Luke Diep-Nguyen
Following the Second World War and the surrender of Japan, the Nationalist Government, or Kuomintang Government (KMT), faced another threat from the rising Communist support and military, which was willing to overthrow the Nationalist Government to install their Communist system. The threat of the Communist Party to the Nationalist Government was more substantial and more significant than before the war was due to significant changes within both parties during the war. During the war, Communists gained support from the population due to victories of the Japanese military and a more stable system than the corrupted Nationalist Government.