November 4, 1941, some members from Japanese Army Unit 731, the biological and chemical warfare research and development centre of the Japanese Army, posed in front of an aircraft after having completed the mission of releasing the plague virus in Chinese city Changde (常德), of Hunan Province in southern inland China.

A Chinese civilian’s face was badly infested by the virus spread into the air in Hunan by Unit 731.

Xiang Jiayou (向家佑) from Nine Hills Village (九岭村) at Zhou Family Store Township (周家店镇) described to the Chinese researchers on Japanese war crimes during WWII how four families in his village were wiped out by Japanese plague.

In November 1941, the Xu family property on the outskirts of Chande was transformed into a quarantine site by the Japanese Army. A 6m wide and 3m deep moat was created to turn the property into an island and a drawbridge served as the only link to the world outside. There were about three to four hundred Chinese patients infected by Japanese plagues being sent to this death camp and a majority of them never left the island again.

Japanese troops buried Chinese civilians alive after they contracted the plague deliberately released by the invasion army.

Surgeon General (石井四郎, Ishii Shirō), the director of Unit 731, developed ceramic bombs full of fleas carrying the bubonic plague.

During the period between 1939 and 1942, the Japanese bio army dropped germ bombs in several Chinese provinces including Zhejiang and Hunan.

On the eve of Japan’s surrender, Ishii Shirō ordered Unit 731 to release all rats, fleas and weasels from the labs in an attempt to deliver his last blow to the Red Amry. As the result, the surrounding 22 Chinese counties experienced epidemic explosions on a massive scale that resulted in a huge death toll. Even decades later, there were still plague infection cases occurring from time to time after the locals were bitten by wild animals that were infected with Japanese germs.

When US General Douglas MacArthur, the Allied commander of the Japanese occupation, arrived in Japan in 1945, the first thing he asked was the whereabouts of Ishii Shirō. It wasn’t because he wanted to bring the man to justice. No.

MacArthur eventually found Ishii Shirō although the man went on to fake his death and the two had a long talk. A secret deal was thus sealed. Ishii Shirō handed over 8,000 bioweapon samples, and in return, he never went to trial but worked at Fort Detrick, the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases that develops bio-weapons, where a special lab had been allocated for him.

Fort Detrick in the 1940s, where Ishii Shirō worked until his death in 1959.

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