Episode 168: Unit 731: The Japanese Auschwitz

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On this episode of the Sofa King Podcast, we talk about the horrors of Unit 731, the Japanese-run biological weapons program from World War Two. This secret base, located in then-occupied China, was said to be responsible for as many as 400,000 deaths during the war based on its cruel experiments and the spread of diseases it intentionally released into China and The Soviet Union.

Originally established by the Japanese Kempaitai, this massive complex was eventually taken over the Japanese Army in order to develop biological weapons to help it win World War Two. Like Britain had Bletchley Park, America had Los Alamos, Germany had Auschwitz, the Japanese had Unit 731. It was a horror factory, perhaps worse than anything the Nazis did during the war, but completely covered up.

What happened there? Well, virulent strains of everything from anthrax and the Bubonic Plague to sexually transmitted diseases were tested and perfected. Forced rape had women get pregnant and infected, so the doctors could see the result to the mother and baby. People were given deadly diseases and then given autopsies while still alive to see the result of the pathogen on their bodies (the anesthetic may give impure results…). If you want six foot tall jars with pickled humans in it, Unit 731 had you covered. Frost-bitten arms torn down to the bones while the patient was still alive and screaming for mercy? Turn to Unit 731.

So, why didn’t General Shiro Ishii get arrested for war crimes once this was discovered? Because America! The Americans got to find out about unit 731 before anyone else, and they wanted to keep the research data for themselves and make sure the Soviets didn’t get it. So, the Japanese and the American governments covered it all up!

It never made the papers, it was never give the attention of the Nazi Concentration camps, and the officers and officials involved in this nightmare went on to get stipends from the US government and lead successful lives in post-war Japan. This one gets pretty sick in the details, so if you want a lot of mass murder and torture, this is the episode for you.

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