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Report: U.S. Didn’t Pursue Evidence of Experiments on WWII POWs

August 14, 1995

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ A Pentagon file shows American intelligence agents deliberately didn’t pursue evidence that U.S. prisoners of war were used in Japanese biological experiments during World War II, a newspaper reports.

In fact, the declassified file shows that U.S. military officers maneuvered to suppress the reports, the San Jose Mercury News reported Sunday.

Their unwillingness to pursue the allegations apparently stemmed from a secret deal granting the Japanese immunity from prosecution in exchange for tissue samples and reports on human experimentation that might help give the United States a germ warfare advantage over the Russians, the newspaper said.

The Mercury News said the file contains at least four documents from independent intelligence sources alleging that American prisoners held in Japanese-occupied Manchuria were used as human research subjects.

The newspaper obtained the file from Greg Rodriquez Jr., a Washington-based researcher whose father was a prisoner of the Japanese. It was declassified two years ago after a Japanese researcher’s Freedom of Information Act request.

The documents focus on Unit 731 of the Japanese Imperial Army. Western historians believe the unit killed at least 200,000 Chinese soldiers and civilians in Manchuria with germ warfare tests.

Historians have documented that the Japanese routinely used Chinese, Russian and Korean POWs for medical experiments. Live test subjects and were injected with bubonic plague, typhoid, cholera, syphilis and other diseases. Some prisoners were dissected alive without anesthesia to see the effect of the diseases.

Some 1,500 American soldiers captured in the Philippines were taken to Mukden, Manchuria, and some survivors have contended that Japanese and U.S. officials covered up experiments on Americans.

Both governments have maintained there is no evidence to support such an allegation.

Department of Defense spokesman Sam Grizzle said today that he was unable to comment immediately because he had not read the newspaper’s account.

The file cited by the Mercury News is from the counterintelligence corps of the Supreme Commander of Allied Powers, headed by Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

The newspaper said the most damning documents show U.S. intelligence agents not only covered up war crimes against Americans, but also aggressively protected the head of Unit 731, Lt. Gen. Shiro Ishii.

The counterintelligence corps prepared a report on Ishii, according to a 1947 memo, but a high-level U.S. intelligence officer quashed the report after telling his agents it involved ``a Top Secret matter,″ the newspaper said.

An April 18, 1947, report from the legal section of MacArthur’s headquarters said the Unit 731 investigation was ``under direct Joint Chiefs of Staff order.″

``What fascinates me the most about this file is that there was no visible interest expressed in following up about the Americans,″ said historian Gavan Daws of Honolulu, an authority on Allied POWs in the Pacific. ``And it’s clear from the file that there is a wish and a directive that nothing should be done.″

The file corroborates the story of Dr. Murray Sanders, a former adviser to MacArthur on biological warfare, who claimed in 1985 that he recommended MacArthur trade the data for immunity for Unit 731 leaders, the newspaper said.

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