'Thousands killed by Japanese germ warfare'

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at SPAMbom4.vsnl.net.in
Thu Jan 25 17:50:38 MST 2001

25 January 2001

'Thousands killed by Japanese germ warfare'
TOKYO: In 1942, as the tide of World War II started to turn against Japan,
the imperial army pulled its troops from the southwestern Chinese province
of Zhejiang.
According to a Chinese doctor, it replaced the soldiers with a stealthier
oppressor: fleas tainted with cholera and typhoid, anthrax and bubonic
plague, that killed 50,000 people within six years.
In the first such testimony by a scientist in a Japanese court, Qiu Mingxuan
said Wednesday that Japan's soldiers unleashed swarms of infected fleas in
Zhejiang's rivers and fields as they beat their retreat.
Qiu said studies still find rats and other animals infected with the
bacteria of Japan's wartime biological arsenal.
"Japan's germ warfare has left behind problems that still threaten our
lives," he said. "The outbreak could occur at any time."
Qiu, 70, testified at a trial in which about 180 Chinese plaintiffs are
demanding compensation and an apology from the Japanese government for the
deaths of their relatives.
The plaintiffs believe their relatives were killed in biological
experiments, vivisections and other acts of brutality carried out by Japan's
notorious Unit 731.
The lawsuit filed in 1997 claims at least 2,100 people were killed in
germ-bombings and other biological experiments by the unit and its
After decades of denial, Japan acknowledged several years ago that Unit 731
existed but has refused to confirm its activities.
The trial in Tokyo District Court was expected to continue for several
Although some Japanese veterans have come forward in recent years and
confessed to war crimes, the Japanese government has shied away from making
apologies to China.
Many Japanese textbooks still present only perfunctory accounts of Japan's
aggression in East Asia from the mid-1930s to the war's end in 1945.
Huang Ketai, a 68-year-old bacteriologist, testified earlier Wednesday about
another germ warfare attack, when Japanese military planes dropped bundles
of wheat filled with bubonic plague-carrying fleas on Ningbo, south of
Shanghai, from November to December 1940. The operation killed 109 people,
he said.
The dumping of the fleas by air has been confirmed by the Chinese government
and was witnessed by many locals.
"Obviously, the outbreak was deliberately created," Huang said. "It
perfectly matches the area and the timing of the Japanese military's wheat
He said the fleas, a kind not native to the region, were infected with
"plague with artificially intensified toxicity," which he said only Unit 731
had the ability to do.
Chinese victims of Japanese aggression are unable to forget the spread of
Qiu said he still remembers the way his uncle died of bubonic plague and his
grandmother of typhoid.
"The incidents affected me tremendously, and that's why I chose the medical
profession," he said. (AP)

For reprint rights:Times Syndication Service

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