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Documentary Says Japanese Conducted Germ Warfare Tests On POWs

August 14, 1985

LONDON (AP) _ Former American prisoners of war said in a British television documentary shown Tuesday night that the Japanese conducted germ warfare experiments on them during World War II.

The documentary said more than 1,000 American POWs and about 100 British and Australian POWs were used in the experiments at a Japanese prisoner of war camp at Mukden in northeast China in 1942.

It said the experiments involved injections, chemical sprays and blood samples.

It also alleged that Japanese authorities experimented on up to 3,000 convicted Japanese criminals and jailed Japanese dissidents, dissecting them alive, freezing them to death and exposing them to mustard gas and cyanide.

The documentary was produced by TVS, one of the companies in Britain’s commercial television network.

Former American POW Frank James said he saw parts of organs, including intestines, lungs, brains and pancreases, preserved in containers marked with the prisoner numbers of dead POWs.

Former American POW Charles Rodriguez Jr. claimed he was deliberately given a bacterial disease.

He said: ″I was lying in my bunk in the barracks, and this Japanese, I thought he was a guard, he came in and he had a feather, and he ran that feather up and down under my nostrils.

″And then I discovered that this was one of the methods that they used to get prisoners to ingest bacteria. From the time I’ve come back, I’ve suffered with fevers. And I went to doctor after doctor, I went to specialists, and they can’t discover what it is,″ he said.

A third former American POW, Charley Wilson, said he refused to go to the camp hospital when he got sick ″because nobody that went in ever came out.″

The documentary did not give the three Americans’ hometowns.

Jack Roberts, a former British army sergeant who worked in the camp hospital, said the prisoners were measured with calipers and used as ″guinea pigs.″

The documentary said the experiments were performed by a secret branch of the Japanese Imperial Army known as Unit 731 and that they included injecting POWs with deadly germs and then charting the progression of their illness. Many of them died.

The hour-long documentary said Unit 731 was headed by bacteriologist Shiro Ishii, who died of cancer several years ago.

It said Japanese experimenters were granted immunity from prosecution for war crimes in exchange for sharing the results of their experiments with U.S. intelligence and bacteriological warfare officers in the months after Japan surrendered.

Col. Murray Sanders, who arranged the alleged immunity deal on behalf of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, said in the documentary that in retrospect he believed the deal had been a mistake.

The documentary said U.S. authorities withheld all evidence of Unit 731 from the trials of Japanese war criminals.

An October 1981 article in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a U.S. publication, first suggested that the Japanese carried out experiments on POWs in northern China, quoting a 1956 FBI memorandum to substantiate the charges.

London newspapers published details of the television documentary’s allegations last Sunday.

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