by Shannon Graham
Unit 731, located in Harbin, China, was a facility created by the Japanese during World War II in order to conduct unethical medical experiments on Chinese and POWs from other countries that were captured by Japanese soldiers.
Guest post by Tim Qiu, Instagram @asianww2addict
It is the fall of 1937, and the Battle of Shanghai rages on furiously. The city once known as “the Pearl of the Orient” (not to be confused with Manila, Philippines) was barely recognizable after more than three months of continuous fighting and siege. Historians often compare the intensity of this urban warfare to that of Stalingrad in 1942.
“I cut him open from the chest to the stomach, and he screamed terribly, and his face was all twisted in agony. He made this unimaginable sound, he was screaming so horribly. But then finally he stopped. This was all in a day’s work for the surgeons, but it really left an impression on me because it was my first time.” These were the words of a former Unit 731 medical assistant in an interview published by the New York Times. He describes the process of deliberately infecting a Chinese prisoner with the plague and vivisecting him without anesthetics. Experiments like this were regular in Unit 731, one of Japan’s biological warfare research facilities.
Guest post by Tim Qiu, Instagram handle @asianww2addict
While the Rape of Nanking in China is slowly making its way into mainstream media and educational systems, the Manila massacre is still struggling to get recognition regardless of the inexplicable inhumanity involved, matching even that of Nanking.
The Japanese occupation of the Philippines' capital started after five months of fierce fighting against US forces during the early days of the Pacific War.
Manila was declared an "open city" (undefended and exempt from enemy aggression) on December 26, 1941, by American General Douglas MacArthur, who vowed to return one day.
His chance finally came on January 9, 1945, when MacArthur's 6th Army came ashore upon the beaches of Lingayen Bay to liberate the Philippines.
by Ray Matsumoto
Commodore Matthew Perry's arrival in 1853 sparked the nearly century-long course of Japan's modernization and militarization. Back then, Japan was an isolationist nation, blocking all international relations except the Dutch and Chinese. But overwhelmed by American navy forces, Japan was pressured into signing the Kanagawa Treaty, ending their 220-year-old isolationist foreign policy. Coupled with the Chinese defeat to Great Britain in the Opium Wars, Japan realized the need for modernization. The aggressive expansionist policy before and during WW2 was fueled by such competition. The Japanese military, and eventually most civilians, saw the West as enemies and Japan as a savior. Japan had to liberate Asia from the Western dominion and establish itself as a world power. This form of nationalism resonated through many, especially after the Great Depression. Let us examine the key factors that caused such sentiments and the aggression of the imperial military.
by Quin Cho
The Battle of Pingxingguan was China’s first victory in its War of Resistance Against Japan. Therefore, it was a propaganda rallying point for both the Communists and the Nationalists alike. In the weeks before the battle, the Japanese had advanced rapidly through North China and routed the Chinese forces there in a humiliating fashion. Many Japanese began to think that China was nothing but a paper tiger and would fall in short order. However, the Battle of Pingxingguan showed that China was to be no pushover and intended to resist the Japanese until they were defeated.
by Emily Winters
The creation of the China-Burma-India Theater was crucial to both the short-term plans and long-term goals of the American Army in South East Asia. The Allies, such as the American, British, and Chinese Armies, attempt to fight the immediate threat of Japanese invasion. Japan was already actively occupying China, but its campaign was expanding in the South East and became a more pressing concern for the Allies. Not only was the Axis of Power expanding its line of battles during World War II, but they were also invading nations that were not previously directly or actively involved in the war, such as the country of Burma.
Born in 1952 in Shanghai, China, Wang Xuan graduated from a university in China and worked as an English teacher for over ten years. In 1993 she received a Master's Degree in Education with distinction from the University of Tsukuba in Japan. In 1995, she discovered by chance what would turn out to be the cause to which she would dedicate her life's work. From a news article in an English newspaper about the First International Symposium on Unit 731 held in Harbin, China, she learned that Japanese peace activists had been reported going to Chongshan Village, Yiwu, Zhejiang Province, China, to investigate the plague epidemic caused by Unit 731's bacterial warfare in World War II (WWll). This cause had been special in Wang Xuan's heart as her family was from Zhejiang. During WWII, Zhejiang was of strategic importance, as several airfields in the area were used as Allied bases. The Zhejiang-Jiangxi Railway also was viewed as an important supply line. The Imperial Japanese Army then launched strategic attacks on the railway from May to September of 1942. This was also directed at the allies in retaliation for the "Doolittle" air raids on Tokyo by the U.S. bombers. Due to the number of ground troops in the area, the Japanese Imperial Army considered it considerably more cost-effective to use biological weapons than any other method.
by Merja Pyykkönen
A short time after the outbreak of World War II, the United States started to reconsider the usage of biological warfare as somewhat of a threat. Before Camp Detrick (later Fort Detrick) was established in the early months of 1943, an increasing amount of attention was remarked towards it. Previous perceptions of the ‘poor effects’ that BW weapons would cause begin to shift quite soon once the war started. At least, the focus turned a bit more into trying to re-evaluate any possible future threats of BW.
The Fox Doctrine of 1933 maintained its strong position in the idea of BW’s lack of ability to reach devastation in the U.S. civilians and military troops almost for ten years since its making. Similar to Major Fox, director of the Medical Corps, G.C. Dunham reported in his September 1939 memorandum about the unsatisfactory, possible enemy use of BW. Despite acknowledging that an enemy could harm the food production animals and a few civilians, he applied that such measures would have to be intensively tied to environmental factors. If such “perfect” conditions were found, the diseases would take a long time to start to prosper. Unlike most of the previous judgments of the use of BW, Dunham nonetheless suggested that preparation against offensive use of biological warfare should be established — and such methodology could be expected from enemies during the war that had just started.