KYOTO -- A list of the names of 3,607 people involved in Unit 731, a secretive organization of the Imperial Japanese Army which conducted living-body experiments, including on Chinese prisoners of war, and developed biological weapons and poison gas during World War II, has been fully released, a scholar said.
Katsuo Nishiyama, professor emeritus at Shiga University of Medical Science, said the National Archives of Japan has disclosed the document to him.
"This is the first time that an official document showing the real names of almost all members of Unit 731 has been disclosed," Nishiyama said. "The list is important evidence that supports testimony by those involved. Its discovery will be a major step toward unveiling concealed facts."
The document is the name list of members of the Kwantung Army Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department, which is comprised mainly of Unit 731 members, and dated Jan. 1, 1945. Nishiyama, who has since been analyzing the document has confirmed that it lists the real names, ranks and contact information of those involved, including 52 army physicians, 49 engineers, 38 nurses and 1,117 army medics.
The National Archives released the list in 2016 in response to a request by Nishiyama, but the contact information of those listed was blacked out to withhold their identities.
Nishiyama further asked the National Archives to release the contact information, and it complied to release the data on Jan. 31, according to Nishiyama.
The professor emeritus intends to release the outcome of his investigation online to help researchers get to the bottom of the activities of Unit 731.
Nishiyama is conducting a signature-collecting campaign to urge Kyoto University to examine if an army physician wrote an academic paper, for which its predecessor Kyoto Imperial University granted academic degrees to the physician, based on living body experiments.
(Japanese original by Mai Suganuma, Kyoto Bureau)