Wiesenthal Center: U.S. Payments To WWII Japanese War Criminals For Data

August 16, 2005


Recently unearthed U.S. government documents revealed that members of Unit 731, the notorious group of Japanese scientists who performed inhumane medical experiments in Manchuria on prisoners before and during WWII, were paid for their expertise by the U.S. in exchange for data from these experiments. It is estimated that some 3,000 prisoners, including Chinese civilians and U.S. and Russian prisoners, died in these experiments linked to the development of chemical and biological weapons.

Historian and biochemical weapons expert Keiichi Tsuneishi found two declassified documents in the U.S. National Archives from Brigadier General Charles Willoughby, who headed the G2 intelligence unit in post-war Japan, detailing that money, food and other benefits given to these scientists in order for their data because he felt it would help further weapons development during the Cold War.

"The decision by General Willoughby to wine and dine these Japanese scientists rather than bringing them before the bar of justice is a black mark on the history of the United States," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center

"To pay the Japanese scientists who, between 1931-1945, had designed and carried out horrific medical experiments, including vivisections on Chinese civilians and POWs, is another example of the desperation that characterized American policy during the early years of the Cold War," Cooper continued. "It parallels the decisions by the U.S. and Great Britain to protect and put on payroll former Nazi war criminals like Klaus Barbie, the infamous ‘Butcher of Lyon,’ and Antanas Gecas during that same period."

"The United States’ failure to insist that these individuals be prosecuted the same way Nazi war criminals were pursued disgraces the memory of the victims of these crimes and the millions who fought and died to defeat the Axis powers and helps to account for the failure of younger Japanese to learn the lessons of the evils perpetrated by Imperial Japan," Cooper concluded.

In 1998, the Wiesenthal Center convened a videoconference between Los Angeles and Tokyo to encourage the Japanese government to deal with the issue of WWII atrocities. The conference included testimony by former Unit 731 participants. Rabbi Cooper has also been active in the investigation of alleged gassings and other medical experiments recently performed on prisoners in North Korea.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe.

For more information, please contact the Center's Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036, or visit www.wiesenthal.com.