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


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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 demise by his writer, Kadokawa, was cited in Japanese media.

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

Below the Japanese occupation, earlier than and through World Battle II, at the very least 3,000 prisoners — males, girls and youngsters — 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. Many of the victims had been Chinese language, however some had 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 had been subjected, bare, to freezing temperatures for lengthy durations; their frozen flesh and limbs had been then pounded with boards to measure their sensitivity.

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

The unit additionally developed germ bombs that had been examined in Chinese language cities, reportedly killing at the very least 200,000 individuals. In at the very least 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 properly, Mr. Morimura discovered. He believed that they might 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 employees, shifting him to analyze its brutalities. He first wrote concerning the unit in a collection of articles for a Communist newspaper in Japan.

He stated the aim of his ebook was to convey steadiness to Japanese accounts of the struggle.

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

Mr. Morimura’s ebook offered 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 Sixties and ’70s — however Mr. Morimura’s was drawn from interviews with 60 Japanese members in this system.

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

The ebook prompted grudging acknowledgment of Unit 731’s atrocities by a Japanese authorities official, who instructed the nation’s Parliament in 1982 that the grisly experiments had occurred “throughout essentially the most extraordinary wartime situations” and had been “most regrettable from the perspective 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. General Shiro Ishii, who remained free till his demise in 1959 — had 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 Battle II. Based on his writer, he graduated from Aoyama Gakuin College in Tokyo and labored in accommodations earlier than he turned to writing.

Details about his survivors was not instantly accessible.

Mr. Morimura is reported to have written about 300 books, almost all of them thriller novels. A current ebook ventured into nonfiction, nonetheless, 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 Occasions 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 reduce 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, nevertheless it 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 relations of a few of Unit 731’s Chinese language victims. A Tokyo District Courtroom choose dominated in 2002 that this system had “used bacteriological weapons underneath the order of the Imperial Japanese Military’s headquarters,” however the choose rejected awarding them compensation, saying that they had no proper as overseas residents to demand cash from Japan underneath worldwide legislation.

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

“We’re preventing Japan, China and the USA all of sudden,” Wang Xuan, one of many plaintiffs, told The Times after the choice. “We’d like limitless quantities of time to do that, and time is working out.”

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

However due to 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 national archives released the names of three,607 individuals — amongst them medics, docs, 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 most important historic web site of organic warfare in world struggle historical past. Additionally it is a historic witness to human struggling, a legacy and particular reminiscence of a brutal struggle.”


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