Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Quite a Few People Alive Today Lived Through WWII


Torture testing table at Unit 731

Seems as if the war just won't end and the crimes of WWII reverberate today. Even as Catholics crown a man who didn't fight Hitler's criminal kingdom but instead, fought for it, so the Japanese continue to stonewall their victims.

BEIJING, April 20 (Xinhua/China Daily)-- The Tokyo High Court yesterday rejected compensation demands brought by Chinese victims of Japan's World War II atrocities,

The rebuffed claimants included victims of germ warfare, the Nanjing Massacre and fire bombing in Yong'an, Fuzhou Province.

Turning down the plaintiffs, who were appealing against a previous rejection, the high court claimed under international law cited by itself, individual victims have no right to seek compensation with a foreign country for damages inflicted by a military force.

In the previous ruling issued in September 1999, the Tokyo District Court, while recognizing the facts of the plaintiffs claims, also denied their claims for damages,

The plaintiffs have said they will appeal yesterday's ruling which made no comment on atrocities the claimants had suffered .

The 10 plaintiffs lodged their lawsuits in 1995, asking the Japanese Government to apologize and pay compensation for a series of atrocities during the war, including the Nanjing Massacre and lethal experiments performed on the Chinese by Japan's infamous Unit 731.

Banging her fists on the arms of her wheelchair, Guo Jinglan, 83, refused to give up her fight. "I'm determined to take care of myself and fight to the end," she said.

Guo and her husband were arrested by Japanese troops in 1941 in northeastern Heilongjiang Province on charges of conducting resistance activities.

After grim interrogation, her husband was sent to Unit 731 and never returned.

"Only by recognizing history, can Japan play a role in the international community," said Yoshio Shinozaka, a former member of Unit 731 who testified for the plaintiffs.

Americans should be angry about this.

U.S. Prisoners of War Used for Experiment by Unit 731 and the Issue of American Use of Biological Warfare in Korean War

As early as January 6, 1946, the Pacific Stars and Stripes, an official organ of the U.S. Army, reported that Americans were among the victims of Ishii's human experiments. A week later, similar reports was ensued in New York Times, hence news about Allied prisoners of war to have been used as human guinea pigs were sporadically divulged. An U.S. government document dated August 1947 has this to say:

It should be kept in mind that there is a remote-possibility that independent investigation conducted by the Soviets in the Mukden area may have disclosed evidence that American prisoners of war were used for experimental purposes of a BW nature and that they lost their lives as a result of these experiments.
Until 1956, the Federal Bureau of Investigation continued to accept as fact that U.S. prisoners of war were used in human experiments. In the 1960s, the issue no longer riveted the public interest. In 1976, Japanese television broadcast a documentary entitled "A Bruise-Terrors of the 731 corps," which rekindled the public interest which grew apace in America in the 1980s. Out of 1,485 Allied white prisoners of war taken to Mukden, 1, 174 were Americans. In their first winter (1942-43) at Mukden, 430 perished, most Americans. No matter how desperate American survivors from Mukden, like Gregory Rodriquez of Oklahoma, tried to tell how they were used by Unit 731 for human experiments, an accusation verified by Naoji Uezono, former member of Unit 731, U.S. Congress turned a deaf ear , thereby being irresponsible for paying their medical benefits and compensations. A British Major Robert Peaty kept a diary while detained in Mukden that gives sufficient evidence of Unit 731's using Allied prisoners of war as guinea pigs. Another Australian doctor R. J. Brennan also kept a diary, indicating that how the prisoners of war underwent experimentation. What bothered him most was one day 150 American prisoners were forced to march out of the camp, from which they never returned.

Very notably, the USA, in order to keep the Japanese American friendly allowed all of this horror to go unnoted and unremarked. This was a bad decision.

In the autumn of 1945, MacArthur acceded to granting immunity to members of Unit 731 in exchange for data of research on biological warfare. "The value to the U.S. of Japanese BW data is of such importance to national security as to far outweigh the value accruing from war crimes' prosecution." The BW information obtained from Japanese sources should be retained in 'top secret' intelligence channels and not be employed as war crimes evidence and not be fallen into the Soviet hands. The State Department disagreed over a two year period and the topic simply disappeared.

I am happy to see one of the Japanese occupiers was willing to side with the Chinese in this lawsuit and was willing to testify about the truth on their behalf. People like Yoshino are shining examples of humanity. The sense of guilt and the desire to rectify, not glorify, the past is essential.

After reading the high handed rhetoric of the Japanese leadership, one wonders about the new Condi/Bush gambit of arming Japan so they can menace their neighbors again. The Germans understood they had to change and they tried to change, using diplomacy as well as contrition.

This is why they are at the heart of an increasingly unified Europe which threatens to fall apart nearly continuously thanks to a long, contentious history.

And history matters. None of us can escape the grip of history no matter how hard we try to reinvent ourselves. All we can do is make amends and try harder to not make the same, tragic mistakes.

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home