U.S. Complicity and Japan's Wartime Medical Atrocities: Time for a Response

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Katrien Devolder

Tag(s): Journal article


Shortly before and during the Second World War, Japanese doctors and medical researchers conducted large-scale human experiments in occupied China that were at least as gruesome as those conducted by Nazi doctors. Japan never officially acknowledged the occurrence of the experiments, never tried any of the perpetrators, and never provided compensation to the victims or issued an apology. Building on work by Jing-Bao Nie, this article argues that the U.S. government is heavily complicit in this grave injustice, and should respond in an appropriate way in order to reduce this complicity, as well as to avoid complicity in future unethical medical experiments. It also calls on other U.S. institutions, in particular the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, to urge the government to respond, or to at least inform the public and initiate a debate about this dark page of American and Japanese history.

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