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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Seiichi Morimura, 90, Who Uncovered Japanese Wartime Atrocities, Dies

Seiichi Morimura, who wrote a searing exposé of the Japanese Military’s secret organic warfare program in occupied China, describing the way it forcibly contaminated 1000’s of prisoners with lethal pathogens, died on July 24 in Tokyo. He was 90.

The announcement of his dying by his writer, Kadokawa, was cited in Japanese media.

Mr. Morimura detailed the atrocities dedicated by the Japanese program — referred to as Unit 731 — in a broadly bought e book, “Akuma no Hoshoku,” or “The Satan’s Gluttony” (1981). Among the many horrors he described have been vivisections carried out with out anesthesia on those that had been intentionally administered germs; medical doctors wished to see firsthand how the following ailments contaminated the physique.

Beneath the Japanese occupation, earlier than and through World Struggle II, not less than 3,000 prisoners — males, girls and kids — grew to become guinea pigs at a facility euphemistically named the 731st Epidemic Prevention and Water Provide Headquarters, on the Manchurian plain close to Harbin. A lot of the victims have been Chinese language, however some have been Korean, Russian and Mongolian.

All are believed to have died from the torture.

Along with these uncovered to pathogens — together with plague, typhus, cholera, syphilis and anthrax — some males have been subjected, bare, to freezing temperatures for lengthy intervals; their frozen flesh and limbs have been then pounded with boards to measure their sensitivity.

Others, Mr. Morimura wrote, underwent transfusions with horses’ blood. Some have been uncovered to X-rays for extended intervals. Some have been locked in a strain chamber to see how lengthy it took earlier than their eyes popped out of their sockets. Nonetheless others have been tied to stakes whereas a canister of a pathogen was exploded close by.

The unit additionally developed germ bombs that have been examined in Chinese language cities, reportedly killing not less than 200,000 individuals. In not less than one case, planes dropped plague-infested fleas over Ningbo, in japanese China.

The unit had proposed sending balloon-borne illness bombs to the USA as effectively, Mr. Morimura discovered. He believed that they’d have been used if not for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended the struggle within the Pacific.

Mr. Morimura, a thriller novelist and a pacifist, had talked about Unit 731 in a novel and was contacted by one in all its staff, transferring him to research its brutalities. He first wrote concerning the unit in a sequence of articles for a Communist newspaper in Japan.

He stated the objective of his e book was to deliver stability to Japanese accounts of the struggle.

“Virtually all Japanese struggle themes are from the standpoint of Japan as a sufferer,” he informed The Age, a newspaper in Melbourne, Australia, in 1982, “however mine is from the viewpoint of Japan the transgressor doing violence towards different nations.”

Mr. Morimura’s e book bought greater than 1.1 million copies inside seven months of its publication. It was not the primary account of Unit 731’s brutality — there have been two others within the Nineteen Sixties and ’70s — however Mr. Morimura’s was drawn from interviews with 60 Japanese contributors in this system.

“Mr. Morimura’s 246-page e book is believed to be extra correct and extra plausible” than the others, The New York Instances reported in 1982. The article quoted Mr. Morimura as saying: “This story needs to be informed to all Japanese, to each technology. Japanese aggression needs to be written about to forestall one other struggle.”

The e book prompted grudging acknowledgment of Unit 731’s atrocities by a Japanese authorities official, who informed the nation’s Parliament in 1982 that the grisly experiments had occurred “throughout essentially the most extraordinary wartime situations” and have been “most regrettable from the point of view of humanity.”

Individually, an article within the journal The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reported in 1981 that officers behind Unit 731 — together with its chief, Lt. Common Shiro Ishii, who remained free till his dying in 1959 — have been granted immunity from prosecution as struggle criminals by the USA in alternate for People’ securing “unique possession of Japan’s experience in utilizing germs as deadly weapons.”

Seiichi Morimura was born on Jan. 2, 1933, in Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo. He survived the USA bombing of Tokyo close to the top of World Struggle II. Based on his writer, he graduated from Aoyama Gakuin College in Tokyo and labored in lodges earlier than he turned to writing.

Details about his survivors was not instantly accessible.

Mr. Morimura is reported to have written about 300 books, practically all of them thriller novels. A latest e book ventured into nonfiction, nevertheless, about his dedication to defending Japan’s postwar pacifist Structure towards Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s marketing campaign in 2015 to extend navy exercise, The Related Press reported.

However “The Satan’s Gluttony” earned Mr. Morimura essentially the most renown.

His position in making public the horrors of Unit 731 — and the publication of books on the topic that adopted his — has reverberated for many years. In an investigative article in The Instances by Nicholas Kristof in 1995, a farmer who had been a medical assistant in Unit 731 recalled dissecting a person with out using anesthesia.

“I minimize him open from the chest to the abdomen, and he screamed terribly, and his face was all twisted in agony,” the person was quoted as saying. “He made this unimaginable sound, he was screaming so horribly. However then lastly he stopped. This was all in a day’s work for the surgeons, but it surely actually left an impression on me as a result of it was my first time.”

Such revelations echoed in a lawsuit filed in 1997 by members of the family of a few of Unit 731’s Chinese language victims. A Tokyo District Court docket decide dominated in 2002 that this system had “used bacteriological weapons underneath the order of the Imperial Japanese Military’s headquarters,” however the decide rejected awarding them compensation, saying that they had no proper as overseas residents to demand cash from Japan underneath worldwide regulation.

Nor did the plaintiffs have help from China, which prevented them from organizing, or the USA, which was cautious of alienating Japan, a staunch ally.

“We’re combating Japan, China and the USA unexpectedly,” Wang Xuan, one of many plaintiffs, informed The Instances after the choice. “We’d like infinite quantities of time to do that, and time is working out.”

Three years later, the Tokyo Excessive Court docket upheld the choice denying compensation.

However because of Mr. Morimura’s work and that of others, the Japanese authorities have more and more acknowledged the enormity of Unit 731’s horrors. In 2018, Japan’s nationwide archives launched the names of three,607 individuals — amongst them medics, medical doctors, surgeons, nurses and engineers — who had been members of this system.

And at a Unit 731 museum, in a suburb of Harbin, an indication by the exit reads: “The Unit 731 web site is by far the biggest historic web site of organic warfare in world struggle historical past. It’s also a historic witness to human struggling, a legacy and particular reminiscence of a brutal struggle.”

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