Unit 731 Members List | Known Members of Unit 731

Unit 731 Members List: The National Archives of Japan has released a document containing the names of 3,607 members of Unit 731, the Imperial Japanese Army’s secretive organization that conducted living-body experiments and developed biological weapons and poison gas during WWII. The document, which lists the names, ranks, and contact information of the members, is important evidence to support testimony by those involved. The contact information was initially blacked out when the list was released in 2016 but was later disclosed in response to a request by Katsuo Nishiyama, a professor emeritus at Shiga University of Medical Science, who is analyzing the document.

Unit 731 Members List | Members of Unit 731

Some members of the unit were reportedly interned at the Fushun War Criminals Management Centre and Taiyuan War Criminals Management Centre following the war. After being repatriated to Japan, they established the Association of Returnees from China and provided testimony about the crimes committed at Unit 731.

Here are a few members who were included:

  • Yoshio Shinozuka
  • Yasuji Kaneko
  • Tadayuki Furumi
  • Shigeru Fujita
  • Ken Yuasa

In April 2018, the National Archives of Japan provided Katsuo Nishiyama, a professor at Shiga University of Medical Science, with an almost complete roster of 3,607 individuals who were part of Unit 731. Nishiyama had plans to make the list available online to encourage additional research on the unit.

Among the members who had been disclosed before were:-

Here is the list of individuals who were associated with Unit 731 along with their rank or position where available:

  • Lieutenant General Shirō Ishii
  • Lieutenant Colonel Ryoichi Naito [ja], founder of the pharmaceutical company Green Cross
  • Professor, Major General Masaji Kitano, commander, 1942–1945
  • Yoshio Shinozuka
  • Yasuji Kaneko
  • Kazuhisa Kanazawa, chief of the 1st Division of Branch 673 of Unit 731
  • Ryoichiro Hotta, member of the Hailar Branch of Unit 731
  • Shigeo Ozeki, civilian employee
  • Kioyashi Mineoi, civilian employee
  • Masateru Saito, civilian employee
  • Major General Hitoshi Kikuchi, head of Research Division, 1942–1945 
  • Lieutenant General [unknown first name] Yasazaka, doctor
  • Yoshio Furuichi, student at Sunyu Branch of Unit 731

Twelve members of the unit were formally tried and sentenced in the Khabarovsk War Crime Trials. Additionally, there were several suspected Japanese war criminals who were not indicted, including three postwar prime ministers: Hatoyama Ichirō (1954–1956), Kishi Nobusuke (1957–1960), and Ikeda Hayato (1960–1964).

Individuals who were associated with Unit 731 and were sentenced in the Khabarovsk War Crime Trials:

NameMilitary positionUnit positionUnitSentenced years in labor camp
Kiyoshi ShimizuLieutenant colonelChief of General Division, 1939–1941,
Head of Production Division, 1941–1945
73125 (served 7)
Otozō YamadaGeneralDirect controller, 1944–1945731, 10025 (served 7)
Ryuji KajitsukaLieutenant general of the Medical ServiceChief of the Medical Administration73125 (served 7)
Takaatsu TakahashiLieutenant general of the Veterinary ServiceChief of the Veterinary Service73125 (died in prison in 1952)
Tomio KarasawaMajor of the Medical ServiceChief of a section73120 (committed suicide in prison in 1956)
Toshihide NishiLieutenant colonel of the Medical ServiceChief of a division73118 (served 7)
Masao OnoueMajor of the Medical ServiceChief of a branch73112 (served 7)
Zensaku HirazakuraLieutenantOfficer10010 (served 7)
Kazuo MitomoSenior sergeantMember73115 (served 7)
Norimitsu KikuchiCorporalProbationer medical orderlyBranch 6432 (served full term)
Yuji Kurushima[none]Laboratory orderlyBranch 1623 (served full term)
Shunji SatoMajor general of the Medical ServiceChief of the Medical Service731, 164420 (served 7)

Known Members of Unit 731 | Unit 731 Members List

During World War 2, the Imperial Japanese Army operated Unit 731, which conducted covert chemical and biological warfare research and development, including lethal human experimentation. This program is notorious for perpetrating some of the most abhorrent war crimes committed by the Imperial Japanese Army.

The notorious Unit 731 was officially known as the Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department of The Kwantung Army. This facility was initially established under the leadership of General Shiro Ishii, who was a combat medic officer at the Kwantung Army and had studied microbiology at Kyoto Imperial University in Japan. General Ishii conceived the idea of building the facility to keep up with the West, as it was believed that they were also developing biological weapons.

To fully realize the potential of the facility, the Japanese government invested heavily in its development. General Shiro Ishii’s career took off in 1932, when he was appointed as the head of the biological warfare division with a mission to conduct covert experiments on live subjects. The location was later moved to Pingfang, and General Ishii was once again appointed as the director.

It’s worth noting that the experiments conducted at Unit 731 were nothing short of horrific. Prisoners of war and innocent civilians were subjected to gruesome experiments, including vivisection (dissection of live subjects), exposure to deadly diseases, and testing of experimental drugs and weapons. The legacy of Unit 731 is a dark stain on the history of the Imperial Japanese Army, and serves as a haunting reminder of the atrocities committed in the name of war.

Masaji Kitano, a graduate of Tokyo Imperial University, served as a commanding officer in the infamous Unit 731. After joining the army as an army surgeon with the rank of lieutenant, he taught microbiology at the Manchu School of Medicine in Manchuria, which had been a puppet state of Japan’s since 1931, just before the Sino-Japanese War began in earnest.

In 1942, Kitano was appointed as the second-in-command of Unit 731, where he played a prominent role in carrying out the heinous experiments on human subjects that took place there. Notably, Kitano was also known to have been the chief funeral commissioner for the unit’s director, Shiro Ishii.

The legacy of Unit 731 is a tragic reminder of the extreme cruelty that can be inflicted on others in the name of military research and development. Masaji Kitano’s role in this dark chapter of history underscores the need for ethical considerations and moral constraints in all scientific pursuits, especially those with the potential to harm others.

Following Japan’s surrender in August of 1945, the individual in question was detained in a POW camp in Shanghai. However, due to a deal struck with the Allies, he was ultimately released in exchange for research materials related to biological warfare. In January of 1946, he was repatriated to Japan, where he eventually became the chief director of Green Cross, a major Japanese pharmaceutical company.

While the details of his involvement with Unit 731 and the nature of his research activities are not specified, his release and subsequent leadership position underscore the complex ethical and political considerations involved in the aftermath of World War II. The fact that he was able to resume a successful career in the private sector after his involvement in such horrific war crimes is a stark reminder of the need for continued vigilance in preventing such atrocities from occurring again in the future.

Yoshimura Hisato was a physiologist and a member of the notorious Unit 731. Prior to his involvement with the unit in 1938, he worked as a lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine in Kyoto Imperial University. He was employed by the Imperial Japanese Army as an Army Engineer, a position that was treated with the same level of respect as an officer, but not classified as a professional military serviceperson.

During his time with Unit 731, Hisato became particularly interested in the effects of hypothermia on the human body. In one of his experiments, he had prisoners submerge their limbs in ice-cold water until they froze solid, causing a coat of ice to form on their skin. Witnesses reported that the frozen limbs made a sound similar to that of wood when struck with a cane. Hisato then tried various methods for rapidly rewarming the frozen appendages, including dousing them in hot water, holding them close to an open fire source, and even leaving the subjects all night in order to observe how long it would take for their own blood to thaw out.

Despite his involvement in such horrific experiments, after the war ended, Yoshimura Hisato was able to obtain immunity for his war crimes and went on to become the president of Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine. His story serves as a chilling reminder of the lengths some individuals will go to in the pursuit of scientific knowledge, and the need for ethical considerations to be at the forefront of all research endeavors.

Yasuji Kaneko is another individual who has been linked to Unit 731, with testimonies of his crimes appearing in the 2001 film “Japanese Devils” and the 2007 film “Iris Chang: The Rape of Nanking”. In 1996, at the age of 76, he began testifying about his activities in both the Nanjing Massacre and Unit 731. Kaneko, a former soldier of the Imperial Japanese Army, has been accused of spreading cholera into the water system of Linqing in 1943 and also claimed to have committed multiple rapes during the war as he could not afford to pay for comfort women as a lower ranking soldier.

Another member of Unit 731, Yoshio Shinozuka, was a teenager when he joined under the impression that he would be providing safe drinking water to other soldiers. However, his day-to-day duties included raising fleas infected with the plague on rats and conducting vivisections.

Unit 731 had many victims, but some of the soldiers involved were able to secure their freedom in exchange for sharing their knowledge of human experimentation. After the war, many of these soldiers went on to live prosperous lives. Despite their scientific gains, however, their egregious violations of human rights were largely forgiven under the guise of advancing scientific knowledge.

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