World / Asia-Pacific

Japan should be of full remorse for wartime medical crimes

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-04-15 15:04

TOKYO -- A group of scholars gathered recently in Japan's Kyoto City to criticize the country's concealing of wartime medical crimes including those committed by Unit 731, the Japanese army's biological warfare division during World War II.

Those conscientious people have exposed the truth behind how the illegal human experimentation had helped the Imperial Japanese military's aggression and become a dark episode in Japanese medical history.

The country should do the same. It's time for it to face up to its past medical crimes honestly and study the root causes that led to such heinous abuses in order to prevent a future recurrence.

During Japan's occupation in WWII, at least 3,000 people were killed in experiments on humans at the infamous Unit 731 in Northeast China. However, instead of being tried for war crimes, the researchers involved in the Unit 731 were given immunity in exchange for their data.

"In some sense, it forms the source of Japan's medical crimes," Shoji Kondo, author of "Evidence of Unit 731 crimes," said during the forum in Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital city.

Furthermore, covering up those crimes has influenced generations of medical personnel's attitudes toward medical ethics, and laid down a warped foundation of medical morality and ethical behavior, which may have had a further, yet more, destructive consequence on the country.

As one of the scholars said, the issues of drug abuse and tampering with clinical data occasionally happens in Japan, and " that's precisely because the country and the medical community have not reflected on the past and set up laws governing universal medical ethics practices."

For a long time, medical crimes have been kept secret by the Japanese government and medical cliques. But recently, more and more material relating to Japan's illegal human experimentation in World War II have been disclosed, such as the live dissections of American prisoners of war revealed at the Kyushu University's Museum recently.

In light of these shocking yet important revelations, Japan's ignoring or whitewashing over such crimes, will only lead the country to retreat into a more secretive stance.

In contrast, Germany, once perpetrated medical crimes during the Nazi-era, has convicted 23 medical doctors for their crimes in 1946. The medical society of the country has also taken the responsibility for the crimes and atrocities committed by German doctors and apologized to those victims both living and dead.

Although those moves could not soften the sheer horror of the Holocaust, it both ascribes responsibility where it belongs and ends any further erroneous efforts to deny or obfuscate the incontrovertible facts.

It is a great lesson for Japan. The bloody history should not be forgotten or covered up, instead, it should be taken as a warning for the future. This is the only way, Japan, who committed enormous and odious war atrocities to its neighboring countries, could move on into an honest future.

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