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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 hundreds 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 — known as Unit 731 — in a extensively bought e book, “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; medical doctors wished to see firsthand how the following illnesses contaminated the physique.

Below the Japanese occupation, earlier than and through World Conflict II, a minimum of 3,000 prisoners — males, ladies 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 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 a minimum of 200,000 individuals. In a minimum of one case, planes dropped plague-infested fleas over Ningbo, in jap China.

The unit had proposed sending balloon-borne illness bombs to the US as nicely, 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 every of its staff, shifting him to research its brutalities. He first wrote in regards to the unit in a sequence of articles for a Communist newspaper in Japan.

He stated the aim of his e book was to deliver 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 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 Sixties and ’70s — however Mr. Morimura’s was drawn from interviews with 60 Japanese members 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 instructed to all Japanese, to each era. Japanese aggression needs to be written about to stop one other struggle.”

The e book 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 circumstances” 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. Basic Shiro Ishii, who remained free till his dying in 1959 — had been granted immunity from prosecution as struggle criminals by the US in change 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 US bombing of Tokyo close to the top of World Conflict II. In keeping with his writer, he graduated from Aoyama Gakuin College in Tokyo and labored in resorts earlier than he turned to writing.

Details about his survivors was not instantly obtainable.

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 army exercise, The Related Press reported.

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

His function 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 the usage of 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 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 they’d 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 US, which was cautious of alienating Japan, a staunch ally.

“We’re combating Japan, China and the US all of sudden,” Wang Xuan, one of many plaintiffs, instructed The Instances after the choice. “We want limitless quantities of time to do that, and time is operating out.”

Three years later, the Tokyo Excessive Courtroom 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 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 website is by far the biggest historic website 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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