Crime, Law and Social Change

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 171–199 | Cite as

Japanese biological warfare experiments and other atrocities in Manchuria, 1932–1945, and the subsequent United States cover up: a preliminary assessment

  • Sheldon Harris


Japanese microbiologists and other scientists, as early as the 1930s, used humans for test purposes in their quest for a viable offensive biological warfare system. Thousands of men, women and children were tested with a host of pathogens to determine the appropriate dose required to kill. Those who survived the initial tests were subjected to other experiments. No one left the test sites alive. They were either killed in the experiments, or they were “sacrificed” when they outlived their usefulness. Field tests in China unleashed plagues that killed tens of thousands, and possibly hundreds of thousands.

American intelligence in early 1942 discovered that Japan had a large biological warfare enterprise in Manchuria and China. By the end of the war, Intelligence was in possession of a comprehensive outline of Japanese operations. American scientists at Fort Detrick, Md., home of the American biological warfare program, learned of the Japanese research. They sent emissaries to Japan to negotiate with those scientists who escaped from Manchuria and returned home. After two years of negotiations, a deal was made. The Japanese would turn over to the Americans their research data. The Americans would not prosecute the scientists as war criminals. Not one Japanese scientist under American jurisdiction was ever prosecuted, but, instead, was permitted to live a normal life in post-war Japan.


Field Test Test Site Normal Life International Relation Research Data 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sheldon Harris
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryCalifornia State UniversityNorthridgeUSA

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