In 1935, Dr. Shiro Ishii, A
Japanese army officer and bacteriologist, convinced the Japanese government to
develop a chemical and biological weapons program. By 1937, the infamous Unit 731 was built,
which was responsible for the research and development of Japans chemical and
biological weapons before and during World War II.
by Ishii, Unit 731 concentrated their studies on anthrax, as well as
typhus, plague, cholera, botulism, smallpox, tularemia and encephalitis.
Bacteria were grown in massive amounts in huge aluminum tanks scattered
throughout the site. It is estimated that by 1940, Unit 731 manufactured
over five tons of anthrax for placement into bombshell casings.
remains of Unit 731
provide Japanese agents the ability for close, covert contact with
targets, Unit 731 developed anthrax-infected chocolates and chewing gum,
as well as fountain pens, hatpins and umbrellas tipped with the deadly
disease. In addition to
anthrax-filled artillery shells, Unit 731 experimented extensively with
hot-air balloons filled with the deadly disease.
Japanese invasion of China and Manchuria involved the use of both chemical
and biological weapons. The
Japanese attacked Chinese troops with mustard gas, cholera, dysentery,
typhoid, plague, anthrax and a blistering agent called Lewisite.
used prisoners-of-war and capture civilians as guinea pigs. Primarily Chinese and Koreans, these
people were exposed to a variety of lethal pathogens under a variety of
conditions. From these experiments, the Japanese acquired invaluable
information on which weapons worked best under which conditions.
the war the United States pardoned the senior members of Unit 731. Some people suggested that the US agreed
to this deal in exchange for information that could be gleaned from Unit
731s research, which could be used in the fight against the Soviet
Union. Recently declassified
documents, however, discredited this assertion.