V.V. Romanova, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor
I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University, The Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation,
Moscow (Russian Federation)
There was very little information regarding Japanese bacteriological weapons at the beginning of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, which convened in Tokyo on April 29, 1946. In August, 1946 the US prosecution provided the court with information about bacteriological warfare and human experimentation by the Japanese military for the first time. The court demanded more evidence. Initially, the US side appealed to the Soviets for cooperation in its criminal inquiry into Japanese war atrocities, and the USSR considered sending a group of prisoners of war from Soviet camps to Japan as witnesses at the Tokyo trials. However the American approach soon changed soon. The USA refused to cooperate with the Soviet Union in bringing the Japanese bacteriologists to trial. This was due to the fact that it gradually became clear to the US military the scale and value of the secret information held by the Japanese. They intended to acquire it in exchange for legal immunity for those key figures of the Japanese germ warfare program that they were holding – Shiro Ishii and his colleagues – who managed to flee the primary research center – Unit 731 in Manchuria. As a result, Moscow decided to organize a separate tribunal in the USSR. The outbreak of the “cold war” and the growing tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States had a major impact on its preparation and conduct. Nevertheless, the trial, which was held in Khabarovsk from December 25‒30, 1949, was the only trial of Japanese military members who were involved in varying degrees in the development and testing of biological weapons on humans as well as carrying out other horrific medical experiments.
Keywords: Tokyo Trials, bacteriological weapons, Unit 731, Ishii Shiro, human experimentation, Japanese war criminals, Khabarovsk Trial