Japan's Wartime Medical Atrocities: Comparative Inquiries in Science, History, and Ethics, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Japan's Wartime Medical Atrocities

Comparative Inquiries in Science, History, and Ethics, 1st Edition

Edited by Jing Bao Nie, Nanyan Guo, Mark Selden, Arthur Kleinman


250 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9780415682282
pub: 2011-05-22
SAVE ~$11.99
Hardback: 9780415583770
pub: 2010-06-30
SAVE ~$33.00
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203849040
pub: 2013-07-03
from $29.98

FREE Standard Shipping!


Prior to and during the Second World War, the Japanese Army established programs of biological warfare throughout China and elsewhere. In these “factories of death,” including the now-infamous Unit 731, Japanese doctors and scientists conducted large numbers of vivisections and experiments on human beings, mostly Chinese nationals. However, as a result of complex historical factors including an American cover-up of the atrocities, Japanese denials, and inadequate responses from successive Chinese governments, justice has never been fully served. This volume brings together the contributions of a group of scholars from different countries and various academic disciplines. It examines Japan’s wartime medical atrocities and their postwar aftermath from a comparative perspective and inquires into perennial issues of historical memory, science, politics, society and ethics elicited by these rebarbative events. The volume’s central ethical claim is that the failure to bring justice to bear on the systematic abuse of medical research by Japanese military medical personnel more than six decades ago has had a profoundly retarding influence on the development and practice of medical and social ethics in all of East Asia. The book also includes an extensive annotated bibliography selected from relevant publications in Japanese, Chinese and English.


"[I]t is essential reading for those interested not only in the ethics of human experimentation but also in the ways in which basic humanitarian values become compromised by nationalism and double standards of morality… I can best sum up the merit of this book by quoting its dedication page: 'To all victims of medical atrocities for whom justice has never been fully served'. Beyond doubt, this volume does much to honour this dedication through its meticulous scholarship and its unwavering assertion of the inalienable worth of every human being." - Alastair V. Campbell; Asian Bioethics Review March 2012 Volume 4, Issue 1

"The book has a number of strengths, not least in drawing together a wide and varied expertise on the subject. The research based on freshly harvested archival materials is particularly compelling… [T]his is an extremely important volume which serves to remind us of the aspects of the Asia Pacific war that remain to be fullt addressed and acknowledged. The book should be of interest to academics, students and the general reader and deserves to be read widely." - Caroline Rose, University of Leeds, UK; Pacific Affairs: Volume 85, No. 2 - June 2012

"Japan’s Medical Atrocities succeeds in discussing many issues related to the inhumane and immoral medical experiments on defenseless Chinese victims duringWorldWar II, and the disappointing lack of justice brought to bear on Dr. Ishii Shiro and most of his colleagues after the war." - John E. Van Sant, Ph.D., Department of History, University of Alabama-Birmingham, USA; Journal of the History of Medicine

"Nie et al. have done a valuable service in making the story of Japense human experimentation widely accessible and ensuring that English speakers do not easily dismiss it as an aberrant history. Japan's Wartime Medical Attocities demonstrates with painful clarity that, much more than merely someone else's problem, Japan's wartime medical history must serve as a lesson in past crimes, historical truth and hustice for all." - Frederick R. Dickinson; Japan Review, Vol. 24 (2012)

"a valuable and finely written multidisciplinary exploration of a hidden chapter of contemporary history. It sheds light on the medical atrocities committed by the Japanese Government, its army, and its scientific community from the late 1930s through World War II, mainly in China.[…] A remarkable aspect of the book is that it alternates views, specifically focusing on the Japanese case with observations regarding other situations, namely, the German and the American ways of dealing with the legacy of wartime atrocities. […] The thoughtful insights and observations the book contains go well beyond the case of Japan. They are a valuable contribution to the overall debate on memory of past atrocities, justice, and the politics of reconciliation." - Paolo De Stefani, Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

Table of Contents

Introduction: Medical Atrocities, History and Ethics Arthur Kleinman, Jing-Bao Nie and Mark Selden Part I: Japan’s Medical War Crimes and Post-War Trials 1. Unit 731 and the Japanese Imperial Army’s Biological Warfare Program Tsuneishi Keiichi 2. The Legacies and Implications of Medicine-Related War Crimes Trials and Post-War Politics Suzy Wang 3. Research on Humans at the Khabarovsk War Crimes Trial: An Historical and Ethical Examination Boris G. Yudin Part II: Guilt and Responsibility: Individuals and Nations 4. Data Generated in Japan?s Biowarfare Experiments on Human Victims in China, 1932-1945, and the Ethics of Using Them. Till Bärnighausen 5. Discovering Traces of Humanity: Taking Individual Responsibility for Medical Atrocities Nanyan Guo 6. On the Altar of Nationalism and the Nation-state: Japan’s Wartime Medical Atrocities, the American Cover-up and Postwar Chinese Responses Jing-Bao Nie Part III: Ethics and Historical Memory: Parallel Lessons from Germany and USA 7. Bioethics and Exceptionalism: A German Example of Learning from Medical Atrocities Ole Döring 8. The Racial Hygienist Otmar von Verschuer’s Relation with the Confessing Church and His Post-War Rehabilitation Peter Degen 9. America’s Memory Problems: Diaspora, Civil Society and the Perils of "Chosen Amnesia" David B. MacDonald 10. Japanese and American War Atrocities, Historical Memory and Reconciliation Mark Selden Part IV: Annotated Bibliography 11. Annotated Bibliography: Primary Sources and Secondary Literature in Japanese, Chinese and English Nanyan Guo and Jing-Bao Nie Appendices Suzy Wang


About the Editors

Jing-Bao Nie is an Associate Professor at the Bioethics Centre, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, New Zealand, and honorary adjunct professor at Hunan Normal and Peking Universities, China.

Nanyan Guo is an Associate Professor at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto, Japan.

Mark Selden is a Research Associate in the East Asia Program at Cornell University, USA and a coordinator of The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.

Arthur Kleinman is the Esther and Sidney Rabb Professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Medical Anthropology and Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, USA.

About the Series

Asia's Transformations

The books in this series explore the political, social, economic and cultural consequences of Asia's twenty-first century transformations. The series emphasizes the tumultuous interplay of local, national, regional and global forces as Asia bids to become the hub of the world economy. While focusing on the contemporary, it also looks back to analyze the antecedents of Asia's contested rise. Asia's Transformations aims to address the needs of students and teachers.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MEDICAL / Ethics
MEDICAL / Evidence-Based Medicine
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies