Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mass Scale War Crimes That You Probably Never Knew or Learned About

Hat tip to Stewart Baker at The Volokh Conspiracy who points out an intriguing investigative report on the biological warfare that Japan waged against China 70 years ago.
Jiang, a 70-year-old farmer, can’t remember a time when flesh-eating ulcers didn’t cover his legs. “They never go away,” he tells me. “They just get drier. Sometimes they hurt less.” He doesn’t know for sure how he got them, but his father told him that the wounds first appeared in July 1942, soon after the Japanese army passed through his village. His entire family developed the festering sores. His mother and younger brother died in unbearable pain a decade later as the untreated, mysterious infection crept up their legs.

Jiang is one of 15 elderly Chinese men and women whom Zhu is treating in his simple village clinic for what locals label “rotten leg disease.” A definitive diagnosis is no longer possible so many decades after the initial exposure and secondary infections. But Chinese, American, and other Western physicians who have examined the survivors, documented their histories, and photographed their wounds claim that they are victims of the most gruesome biological warfare attacks in modern history.
According to the article, Japan has only minimally acknowledged that it used bio-weapons, and the government has never apologized for doing so. Incredibly tragic, but also infuriating given the amount of noise Baker notes that many politicians and courts in Japan have made about how the use of nuclear weapons by the U.S. on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a war crime.

Update: Thanks to the Age of Google, I've discovered there have been a handful of books written on the subject of Japan's history of biological warfare. The very earliest appears to be Unit 731: Japan's Secret Biological Warfare in World War II, which was published in 1989.

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