With the aim to protect the major historical remains of the Imperial Japanese Army’s Unit 731 in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, Chinese authorities prepare the area for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Unit 731 was a biological and chemical warfare research unit established in Harbin in 1935 by the Imperial Japanese Army, serving as the core of Japan’s biological warfare in China and Southeast Asia during WWII.
It’s been reported that at least 3,000 people were killed in experiments on humans at Unit 731. Civilians and prisoners of war from China, the former Soviet Union, the Korean Peninsula and Mongolia all perished at the hands of the Japanese. The retreating Japanese invaders blew up the base when the Soviet Union army took Harbin in 1945.
Images taken on April 10, 2014 by photographer Wang Jianwei for Xinhua show the remains of Unit 731, as local authorities prepare the site for UNESCO submission.
Moreover, a future museum in Harbin will gather more than 6,300 items representing Japanese Unit 731 evidence, as Xinhua announced on April 7:
“More than 6,300 items have been collected in a drive to find evidence of the activities of Japan’s notorious Unit 731 during World War II in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, said local authorities on Monday.
The Unit 731 Crimes Exhibition Hall in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, has gathered 1,740 new pieces of evidence in the nationwide efforts in the past two years, according to the exhibition hall. Researchers expanded their search scope to all regions where the Unit 731 was active, adding to the amount and quality of the hall’s exhibits.
The 6,300 items includes arms, ammunition, clothing, equipment and parts, implements, books, documents and chemical reagents.”
The current exhibition hall receives more than 300,000 visitors, about 10 percent of whom are foreigners, each year.
A documentary entitled “731” that will feature interviews with witnesses and academics and information from historical archives also started shooting in February and is expected to be broadcast by the end of the year. Filming is due to take place in China, the United States, Russia and Japan.
The city of Nanjing also wants to preserve seven two-story buildings on Liji Alley to remind the world of the Japanese army’s use of women as sex slaves during WWII and announced its plans to transform former WWII “comfort station” into conservation units.
In the light of the latest ping-pong statements between China and Japan, local authorities in Nanjing also announced their intentions to send Nanjing massacre documents to UNESCO.
One month ago, China’s top legislation ratified two new national memorial days, one marking “War Against Japanese Aggression Victory Day” and the other commemorating victims of the Nanjing Massacre, seemingly in response to a controversial statement made by Naoki Hyakuta, a member of the Japanese public broadcasting company, who flat out claimed that the Nanjing Massacre “never happened“.
By Andreea Dragut
[Photos by Wang Jianwei via Xinhua]