Ishii Shiro

From Academic Kids

Ishii Shiro (石井四郎) (1889/1890-1959) was the Lieutenant General of Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Sino-Japanese War.

He was born in Chiyoda on June 25, 1892. Although considered a selfish and pushy individual, nonethless he excelled at Kyoto Imperial University in the field of medicine. He also courted and married the daughter of the school president. In 1920 Ishii graduated from and enlisted in the Army, where he was soon commissioned as an officer.

Ishii found himself assigned to the 1st Army Hospital and Army Medical School in Tokyo in 1922. There his work impressed his superiors enough to gain him post-graduate medical schooling back at the Kyoto Imperial University, two years later.

Ishii took a two-year tour of the West starting in 1928. In his travels Ishii did extensive research on the effects of biological warfare and chemical warfare developments from World War I onwards. It was a highly successful mission and helped win him the patronage of Minister of Army Araki Sadao.

In 1932 he began his preliminary experiments.

In 1936, Unit 731, a biological-warfare unit disguised as a water-purification unit, was formed. Ishii built a huge compound -- more than 150 buildings over six square kilometers -- outside the city of Harbin, China. Some 10,000 test subjects, which Ishii and his peers called "logs," eventually died at the compound.

In 1942, Ishii began field tests of germ warfare on Chinese soldiers and civilians. Tens of thousands died of bubonic plague, cholera, anthrax and other diseases.

In 1945, Japanese troops blew up the headquarters of Unit 731 in the final days of the Pacific War. Ishii ordered 150 remaining "logs" killed to cover up their experimentation.

In 1946 the U.S. cover-up of a secret deal with Ishii and Unit 731 leaders -- germ warfare data based on human experimentation would be offered in exchange for immunity from war-crimes prosecution -- began in earnest. Deal was concluded two years later.

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Shiro Ishii

Shiro Ishii was a Japanese army microbiologist and war time criminal. He used human subjects in his germ warfare experiments during WWII. From Japan’s notorious Unit 731 located in Pingfan, Manchuria (a facility rivalling Germany’s notorious Auschwitz concentration camp), Ishii conducted brutal human experiments, initially using anthrax, glanders and plague. Human test subjects were euphemistically referred to as 'logs'. A smaller camp housing mostly American, British, Australian and New Zealand POW’s was located in Mukden, Manchuria.

Unlike similar war criminals, Ishii was never brought to justice. Instead, he was given immunity by the American authorities in exchange for his research, despite the tales of biological experimentation recounted by returning Allied POW’s. In 1948, US military officials, who were anxious to keep Ishii's experimental data out of Soviet hands, and equally anxious to gain knowledge from his brutal experiments, secretly granted immunity to all members of Ishii’s Unit in exchange for their data; one of the largest post-WWII cover-ups.

Shiro Ishii died in 1959.


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