Thursday, April 14, 2011

Unit 731 Walking Tour


I debated about posting this one because, for one, it's kind of messed up and I don't want people to think that this site, Japanbash, is about bashing Japan for past war crimes. Also I'm not so great at expressing important things.

But... there was an X-Files episode based on this stuff, and one of the most disturbing movies out there deals with it, so I guess it's relevant.

Unit 731 Walking Tour

I thought it left from Shin-Okubo, and with like a minute left, I ran over to Okubo, and there were a bunch of people there. I asked a couple young guys what this group was. He looked at me, and with hesitation said, "It's a hanami (flower viewing) walk." Poor kid was embarrassed to say that it's a group tour of the old wartime chemical and biological research centers, where in 1989 they unearthed piles of unknown bones belonging to non-Japanese Asians. Testimony from former workers points to all kinds of bad stuff being buried around here. The hanami tour was put on by this group. They do it once a year, check it out if you speak fluent Japanese. Yeah, the Japanese here is pretty technical stuff and I only picked up a few words, but it was interesting none-the-less. I wonder if the kid thought that I joined because he said it was a hanami walk, and I just wanted to see some flowers. That would be kind of hilarious.

You may have heard about Unit 731 in pop culture.

I couldn't find any good clips, but in an old X-Files episode, it was discovered that past members of Unit 731 were gainfully employed by the US, doing chemical and biological experiments on alien-human hybrids. I barely remember this one, it was like 15 years ago. Sometimes I think of sitting down and re-watching the entire series, since it was the first show I ever obsessed about. But after the recent shit movie I think I'd be let down. Anyways. Here's the bland trailer:

Men Behind the Sun is a Hong Kong movie made by Mon Tun-fei. Interesting guy. Started out working with the Shaw brothers making Kung Fu flicks, then moved on to films about Japanese war crimes. With a couple hard core pornos thrown in the middle. Men Behind the Sun is not a date movie. It's a movie you watch alone and don't tell anyone about. It chronicles the final days of Unit 731 in Manchuria, China. If you search on youtube, you can find a couple clips of people being subjected to hypothermia. What you won't find is the famous scene where a live cat is thrown into a pit of infected rats. This movie makes Cannibal Holocaust look like a Disney movie. But it does give you a good idea of what was going on, though sensationalized. Best scene is when the head guy drunkenly throws a sake bottle across the room, and noticing how it breaks, comes up with an idea for a clay pot bomb to drop massive amounts of plague carrying fleas on people.

Ok, I'm going to post the photos of the walk, which are actually a bit boring, with just some minimal comments. You should go over to the excellent Tokyo Damage Report for his writeup. Dude translated the entire flyer into English!

Funeral parlor that held the bones until 2002.



Photos of some of the bones. The skulls have various saw and drill holes.


National Science Museum. Former R&D center for the army.

Cornerstone of the old army headquarters.


Toyama Park is the site of the old army medical school.

What lies beneath?


There you go. News trickles out slowly about this stuff. Here's a recent article about some new dig sites:


Anonymous said...

Wow, I didn't know Unit 731 had existed! Everyone always focuses on what the Germans did during WWII, but I suppose it doesn't help that Japan doesn't like admitting it did things like this.

Ming said...

oh my god...i always thought japan denied this 100%...i can't believe you found a walking tour into a part of their history which was suppose to have never happened...and that people are interested to know...perhaps times really are changing....what an interesting experience. the grudges between china, korea, japan still run so deeply in some people partly because there was never any acknowledgement or apology made by any side....i wonder if thats changing a little bit as well...
and that movie...I could not even sit through 30 minutes of it when i tried to watch it...and that's after several vodka drinks, and i don't think i'll ever try again...

Anonymous said...

I have written a book, Night Train From Manchuria...a historical novel about Japan's army behavior in WW II...fiction woven over historical facts. If you want to read more about Unit 731 look my book up on Google. I wrote it over ten year period after viewing historical movie Nightmare in Manchuria. This story deserves to be told. J. Randolph Smith

Anonymous said...

where do you go to book this tour? i live close by and would like to go.