"When you are thinking about things that could cause in excess of 10 million deaths, even something tragic like a nuclear weapons incident wouldn't get to that level. So the greatest risk is from a natural epidemic or an intentionally caused infection bioterrorism events... Whether the next epidemic is unleashed by a quirk of nature or the hand of terrorists, scientists say a fast-moving airborne pathogen could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year. So the world does need to think about this"- Bill Gates, during the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland on January 19, 2017.
Nuclear warfare had been perceived by the public to be the deadliest weapon. However, it might not be true, given the fact that nuclear weapons are now regulated and cannot be deployed unless approved. The last time the world saw a nuclear bomb, 129,000- 226,000 died, and many suffered from the aftermath.
But what if there is a deadlier and cheaper weapon?
Biological warfare, also known as germ warfare, is the use of biological toxins or infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, insects, and fungi with the intent to kill or incapacitate humans, animals, or plants as an act of war. It was heavily used by Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War 2 on the Soviet Union and China. As many as 400,000 Chinese died of bubonic plague, cholera, anthrax, and other diseases planted by Unit 731. An attack called Operation Cherry Blossoms, which would've affected 80,000 in Southern California, was also planned by Ishii Shiro, the leader of Unit 731.
After WWII, a report on Biological Warfare: Activities and Capabilities of Foreign Nations published on March 30, 1946, stated, "Biological warfare is a potential military threat to all nations of the world. Most countries, regardless of size, can develop biological warfare for small-scale sabotage operations. The larger nations, possessing the necessary scientists and manufacturing facilities, should be capable of waging large-scale biological warfare in 10 years." The report continued, "Biological warfare is a demoralizing, silent, and insidious weapon which can be used in a "sneak attack" far more destructive than the strike at Pearl Harbor."
The alow cost of developing a biological weapons program also makes it an attractive option, "Biological warfare research differs from atomic energy development not only in its small comparative costs but also because it is not dependent upon strategic raw materials. Any country, large or small, which has laboratory facilities and trained personnel already possess the fundamental requirements for maintaining a biological warfare research and development program, although its large-scale production potential might be insignificant."
Zhejiang, a province in China, experienced a biological weapons attack as an act of revenge after the Doolittle Air Raid in Tokyo. This was confirmed by the Khabarovsk War Crime Trial as Major General Kawashima Kiyoshi, who worked at Unit 731, stated, "My unit could produce 300 kilos of plague bacteria, 1000 kilos of cholera bacteria, 800-900 kilos of typhoid, 500-700 kilos of anthrax in a month. In 1942, General Ishii led 150 soldiers to disseminate plague, cholera, typhoid, and anthrax in the Zhejiang-Jiangxi War." In another meeting of 1942, Ishii Shiro stated, "The bacteria weapons used in Zhejiang-Jiangxi War Zone were very effective, causing several fierce epidemics."
The biological attack on the village had a lasting impact for generations. One-third of the population died from bubonic plague. Others were infected by glanders and anthrax spores that survived for years.
Here is a victim's testimony:
Hua Qing-Yun (1922-2002), Jinhua City
One day in September 1942, my father and I were cutting firewood in the mountain when an itching blister appeared on my leg. Thinking it was caused by the scratch of branches, I didn't care about it. My leg suddenly turned red and swollen in the evening. Then it began to ulcerate, and the fester flesh kept falling one piece after another. My father's leg was also ulcerated. At that time, over 20 villagers were infected by ulcerative skin lesions on legs. My father died of it five years later. My family was too poor to have money to cure it. My mother picked herbs to treat my legs, but they didn't work. When I was 17, the ulceration was so serious that I was unable to work. My mother had to support the family alone. Over a decade ago, my mother passed away, and nobody took care of my life. I have to spend the rest of my life with the minimum allowance of 2 yuan per day given by the Government and alms given by my neighbors. Several days ago, the lower part of my leg disjointed due to ulceration. Now I cannot stand up. I just sit here and wait for the end of my life.
[For the picture of Hua Qing-Yun, click here]
Before the Japanese soldiers conducted their biological warfare onto this village, no one experienced the ulcers on their legs. However, many started experienced symptoms for years to come.
Wang Xuan had been fighting for justice for the victims for over two decades. You could read more about the story in our upcoming book, Seeking Justice for Biological Warfare Victims of Unit 731 Evidence Collected by Wang Xuan.