B-29 CREWS TORTURED BY THE JAPANESE - Page 3

Background


Two Japanese Officers in a contest to see who could kill 100 people first.

Two Japanese officers, Toshiaki Mukai and Tsuyoshi Noda competing to see who could kill (with a sword) one hundred people first. The bold headline reads,
" 'Incredible Record' (in the Contest To Cut Down 100 People—Mukai 106 – 105 Noda—Both 2nd Lieutenants Go Into Extra Innings"

Japanese military culture and imperialism

Military culture, especially during Japan's imperialist phase had great bearing on the conduct of the Japanese military before and during World War II.

Centuries previously, the samurai of Japan had been taught unquestioning obedience to their lords, as well as to be fearless in battle. After the Meiji Restoration and the collapse of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the Emperor became the focus of military loyalty. During the so-called "Age of Empire" in the late 19th century, Japan followed the lead of other world powers in developing an empire, pursuing that objective aggressively.

As with other imperial powers, Japanese popular culture became increasingly jingoistic through the end of the 19th century and into the 20th century. The rise of Japanese nationalism was seen partly in the adoption of Shinto as a state religion from 1890, including its entrenchment in the education system. Shinto held the Emperor to be divine because he was deemed to be a descendant of the sun goddess Amaterasu. This provided justification for the requirement that the emperor and his representatives be obeyed without question.

Victory in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) signified Japan's rise to the status of a world power. Unlike the other major powers, Japan did not sign the Geneva Convention — which stipulates the humane treatment of civilians and POWs — until after World War II. Nevertheless, the treatment of prisoners by the Japanese military in wars such as the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) and World War I (1914-18), was at least as humane as that of other militaries.

The events of the 1930s and 1940s

By the late 1930s, the rise of militarism in Japan created at least superficial similarities between the wider Japanese military culture and that of Nazi Germany's elite military personnel, such as those in the Waffen-SS. Japan also had a military secret police force, known as the Kempeitai, which resembled the Nazi Gestapo in its role in annexed and occupied countries.

As in other dictatorships, irrational brutality, hatred and fear became commonplace. Perceived failure, or insufficient devotion to the Emperor would attract punishment, frequently of the physical kind. In the military, officers would assault and beat men under their command, who would pass the beating on to lower ranks, all the way down. In POW camps, this meant prisoners received the worst beatings of all.

The crimes

Because of the sheer scale of suffering caused by the Japanese military during the 1930s and 1940s, it is often compared to the military of Nazi Germany during 1933–45. The historian Chalmers Johnson has written that:

It may be pointless to try to establish which World War Two Axis aggressor, Germany or Japan, was the more brutal to the peoples it victimised. The Germans killed six million Jews and 20 million Russians [i.e. Soviet citizens]; the Japanese slaughtered as many as 30 million Filipinos, Malays, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Indonesians and Burmese, at least 23 million of them ethnic Chinese. Both nations looted the countries they conquered on a monumental scale, though Japan plundered more, over a longer period, than the Nazis. Both conquerors enslaved millions and exploited them as forced labourers — and, in the case of the Japanese, as forced prostitutes for front-line troops. If you were a Nazi prisoner of war from Britain, America, Australia, New Zealand or Canada (but not Russia) you faced a 4 % chance of not surviving the war; by comparison the death rate for Allied POWs held by the Japanese was nearly 30 %.

Mass killings

R. J. Rummel, a professor of political science at the University of Hawaii, states that between 1937 and 1945, the Japanese military "murdered near 3,000,000 to over 10,000,000 people, most probably 6,000,000 Chinese, Indonesians, Koreans, Filipinos, and Indochinese, among others, including Western prisoners of war. This democide was due to a morally bankrupt political and military strategy, military expediency and custom, and national culture." Among the most infamous incidents in Southeast Asia were the Manila massacre, which resulted in the deaths of 100,000 civilians in the Phillipines and the Sook Ching massacre, in which between 25,000 and 50,000 ethnic Chinese in Singapore were taken to beaches and massacred.

In China alone, during 1937-45, approximately 3.9 million Chinese were killed, mostly civilians as a direct result of the Japanese invasion. The most infamous incident during this period was the Nanjing Massacre of 1937-38, when, according to the findings of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, the Japanese Army massacred as many as 260,000 civilians and prisoners of war. Herbert Bix, citing the works of Mitsuyoshi Himeta and Akira Fujiwara, claims that the "Three Alls Policy" (Sanko Sakusen) a scorched earth strategy used by Japanese forces in China in 1942-45, and sanctioned by Hirohito himself, was in itself responsible for the deaths of 2.7 million Chinese civilians. The mystery behind Hirohito's role is explained in the authoritative book by David Bergamini, who translated war diaries and depositions from the tribunals from the original Japanese, and interviewed sources directly.Similar crimes such as Changjiao massacre did occur from time to time.

Experiments on humans and biological warfare

Special Japanese military units conducted experiments on civilians and POWs in China. One of the most infamous was Unit 731. Victims were subjected to vivisection without anesthesia, amputations, and were used to test biological weapons, among other experiments. Anesthesia was not used because it was considered to affect results. In some victims, animal blood was injected into their bodies.

To determine the treatment of frostbite, prisoners were taken outside in freezing weather and left with exposed arms, periodically drenched with water until frozen solid. The arm was later amputated; the doctor would repeat the process on the victim’s upper arm to the shoulder. After both arms were gone, the doctors moved on to the legs until only a head and torso remained. The victim was then used for plague and pathogens experiments.

According to GlobalSecurity.org, the experiments carried out by Unit 731 alone caused 3,000 deaths. Furthermore, "tens of thousands, and perhaps as many 200,000, Chinese died of bubonic plague, cholera, anthrax and other diseases...", resulting from the use of biological warfare.

One of the most notorious cases of human experimentation occurred in Japan itself. At least nine out of 12 crew members survived the crash of a U.S. Army Air Forces B-29 bomber on Kyushu, on May 5, 1945. The bomber's commander was sent to Tokyo for interrogation, while the other survivors were taken to the anatomy department of Kyushu University, at Fukuoka, where they were subjected to vivisection and/or killed. On March 11, 1948, 30 people including several doctors were brought to trial by the Allied war crimes tribunal. Charges of cannibalism were dropped, but 23 people were found guilty of vivisection and/or wrongful removal of body parts. Five were sentenced to death, four to life imprisonment, and the rest to shorter terms. In 1950, the military governor of Japan, General Douglas MacArthur, commuted all of the death sentences and significantly reduced most of the prison terms. All of those convicted in relation to the university vivisection were free by 1958.

In 2006, former IJN medical officer Akira Makino stated that he was ordered — as part of his training — to carry out vivisection on about 30 civilian prisoners in The Philippines between December 1944 and February 1945. The surgery included amputations and the victims included women and children.

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