Poison Gas: World War II in Asia (1937-45)

Figure 1.--Here Tokyo Boy and Girl Scouts train against an air attack wearing gas masks during 1933. The press caption reads, "All Tokyo mobilized for defense against a simulated air attackagainst the Japnese capital, all classes joined in the defense work August 9-10-11. Photo Photo taken in practice in preparation for the event shows Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, wearing gas masks and participating in 'rescue' during the 'gas bombing'. The photograph was dated August 11, 1933.

None of the World War II combatant countries employed their stock piles of poison gas in World War II. The only exception was the Japanese. It is instructive that the Japanese who go on endlessy about nuclear weapons used in them or silent about gas and biological weapons they used on China and catives, including Americans. The Jaanese had an active biological and chemical program. The Japanese used both poison gas and biological weapons in China. The Japanese used Pows and Chinese civilians to test these weapons. Only limited information is available on the Japanse use of poison gas during World War II. One Japanese source reports that between fiscal 1937 and 1941 a total of 839,956 chemical shells were shipped overseas. Of these, 571,946 were sent to China and the remaining 268,010 went to Southeast Asia. Even larger quantities may have been shipped in 1942 and 43, but records are not available. [Tsuneishi] The Japanese appeare to have used poison gas extensively in Chima. Reports fron the Nanking Masacre indicate that this was one of the ways prioners were killed after thr fall of the city. Recent historical research suggeststhat in 1945 the United States was preparing for the introduction of chemical weapons ro support Operation Olympic, the planned invasion of Japan. [Allen and Polmer] The weapons, however, were never employed. At the time the United States was fire bombing Japanese cities causing massive civilian casualties. Atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (August 1945) finally causing Japan to surrender (September 1945). After the War, the Imperial Japanese Army usually buried chemical weapons stockpiles when they evacuated China. After the War, Japanese officals have generally attempted to limit public discussion of the use of poison gas and chemical weapons as well as other Japanese attrocuties during the War. Some Japanese educators believe that there should be a fuller discussion. Prime Minister Kozume and Chinese and Japanese courts are currently wrestling with this issue. The Chinese are demanding that Japan compensate Chinese for injuries sustained because if these weapons and not only pay for the destruction of weapons found, but also assist Chinese authorities to locate other sites where the weapns were buried and pay for their disposal. [Tsuneishi]


Tsuneishi, Keiichi. "Disposing of Japan's World War II Poison Gas in China" Asahi Shimbun (November 10, 2003).


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Created: 4:48 AM 1/10/2015
Last updated: 4:48 AM 1/10/2015