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


254 pages

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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.

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