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.
In the case of Chongshan, which was along the Zhejiang-Jiangxi Railway, a plague-infested bomb was dropped in the summer of 1942. Two months later, the plague caused the death of 403 residents or one-third of the village's population by September 1942. According to her father, Xuan's uncle was one of those who died from the plague. Other regions such as Ningbo and Quzhou had seen plague bombs dropped as early as 1940.
The plague epidemic caused by the bacterial war resulted in many villagers in China continuing to suffer from rotten leg ailments as far back as 75 years. "There is ample historical documentation and epidemiological evidence to confirm that these attacks (using biological weapons) had occurred," said Martin Furmanski, MD, a medical scientist of pathology and expert on the prevention of biological warfare. However, there is no direct proof.
Wang Xuan said, "If we do not let everyone worldwide know that humans once engaged in heinous bacterial warfare, then we all will lose a sorely needed opportunity to learn from history." For this reason, since 1995, Wang Xuan embarked on an unrelenting search for the truth. Her research and interviews led her to conclude, without question, that the Japanese Imperial Army was responsible for causing the spread of horrible disease in a number of areas.
Since 1997, Wang Xuan has led 180 Chinese plaintiffs from Zhejiang and central China's Hunan Province in demanding fair judgment of their accusation that Japan engaged in criminal germ warfare.
For the first time, in 2002, the Tokyo District Court acknowledged that Unit 731 "used bacteriological weapons under the order of the Imperial Japanese Army's headquarters" in occupied China in the 1930s and 1940s. In 2007, the Japanese Supreme Court upheld the determination of historical facts of bacterial warfare by the lower courts but still rejected the claim for compensation. The truth about the unconscionable acts by the Japanese Imperial Army, which had been concealed for so long, was finally recognized as factual. The result was an important milestone achieved by Wang Xuan after years of hard work. However, there remains a lack of direct evidence that the plague epidemic was caused by the Imperial Japanese bacterial war in WWII.
Despite the court finding, the Japanese government continues to deny that its Army ever used biological agents in China. The victims were not compensated for the devastating damage done to them. Their legs remained rotten decades after the war.