|“||This can achieve in a few seconds what would take even the most experienced interrogator days.||”|
— Mrs. Frederic, explaining the artifact to Sally
Real World Connections
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Shirō Ishii was a Japanese microbiologist and lieutenant general of Unit 731. In 1932, Ishii became head of Japan's Army Epidemic Prevention Research Laboratory and in August 1940 he formed the "Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department of the Kwantung Army (関東軍防疫給水部本部)" or Unit 731 for short. A special project code-named Maruta used human beings for experiments. Test subjects were gathered from the surrounding population and were sometimes referred to euphemistically as "logs". This term originated as a joke on the part of the staff because the official cover story for the facility given to the local authorities was that it was a lumber mill. Maruta actually comes from a German word "Holzklotz" that means logs. The test subjects were selected to give a wide cross section of the population and included common criminals, captured bandits and anti-Japanese partisans, political prisoners, and also people rounded up by the Kempetai for alleged "suspicious activities". They included infants, the elderly, and pregnant women. Some test subjects were infected with diseases and then had their internal organs removed while they were still alive to see affects of those diseases. These were conducted while the patients were alive because it was feared that the decomposition process would affect the results. Some prisoners had their limbs removed and then re-attached to study affects of blood loss. Prisoners were also used for weapons testing, acting as the targets. Prisoners were subjected to other torturous experiments such as being hung upside down to see how long it would take for them to choke to death, having air injected into their arteries to determine the time until the onset of embolism, and having horse urine injected into their kidneys. More than 500,000 people died in these experiments.
Unit 731 was disbanded during WWII with Russian invasion of Manchuko and Mengjiang. Ishii told every member of Unit 731 to take their secrets to the grave and if captured to commit suicide before exposing their secret. Also, he warned them if the public learned the truth he'd hunt each one of them down and kill them himself. Japanese troops blew the compound up in the final days of the war to destroy evidence of their activities, but most were so well constructed that they survived somewhat intact.
After Japan surrendered to the Allies in 1945, the US began to help Japan rebuild. The
US government secretly made a deal with the Japanese to grant immunity to the physicians of Unit 731 in exchange for providing America, but not the other wartime allies, with their research on biological warfare. American occupation authorities monitored the activities of former unit members, including reading and censoring their mail. The U.S. believed that the research data was valuable. The U.S. did not want other nations, particularly the Soviet Union, to acquire data on biological warfare. A US microbiologist claimed the information was invaluable because the US prohibited human experimentation. The truth slowly began to slip out though and many of the people that were part of Unit 731 were charged with Manufacturing and Employing Bacteriological Weapons.
Since the end of the American Occupation, the Japanese government has repeatedly apologized for its prewar behavior in general, but specific apologies and indemnities are determined on the basis of bilateral determination that crimes occurred, which requires a high standard of evidence. Unit 731 presents a special problem, since unlike Nazi human experimentation which is extremely well documented, the activities of Unit 731 are known only from the testimonies of former unit members, and testimony cannot be employed to determine indemnity in this way. In accordance with this principle, Japanese history textbooks do not usually carry descriptions of Unit 731; however, Saburo Ienaga's New History of Japan included a long description, based on officers' testimony. The Ministry for Education attempted to remove this passage from his textbook before it was taught in public schools, on the basis that the testimony was insufficient. The Supreme Court of Japan ruled in 1997 that the testimony was indeed sufficient and that requiring it to be removed was an illegal violation of freedom of speech. In October 2003, the Prime Minister of Japan stated that while the current Japanese government does not possess any records related to Unit 731, they recognize the gravity of the matter and will publicize any records that are located in the future.
Shirō Ishii spent the rest of his life in Japan and was never convicted of any war crimes. He opened a clinic where he did examinations and treatments for free. He was especially concerned with the health of children. In his final years he converted to Christianity and died of throat cancer at the age of 67.
The Chinese film Men Behind the Sun, directed by Tun Fei Mou in 1988, is a graphic film about the atrocities committed by Unit 731, as is the Russian film Philosophy of a Knife, directed by Andrey Iskanov and released in 2008. There's also a documentary called 731: Two Versions of Hell.
The artifact has the power to simulate drowning when placed on bare flesh and held in place by the holder (who must be wearing protective gloves). When removed from the skin, the victim feels like they have been pulled up from a drowning attempt.
The artifact made an appearance The 40th Floor when Irene Frederic and Steve Jinks were interrogating Sally Stukowski on her involvement in The Regents assassinations. Stukowski smugly declared they would get nothing out of her and that she knew the Warehouse had a soft touch when it came to interrogations.
Mrs. Frederic admitted that was true for agents, but that she was not an agent. She then made a phone call asking that "It" be removed from containment and explained to Sally that she had made a mistake murdering the regents as they were Mrs. Frederic's friends. A short while later a black box was delivered to the interrogation site and Mrs Frederic opened the box and showing the contents to a suddenly terrified Sally who knew what the artifact was. Mrs. Frederic gave Sally one last chance to tell the agents what she knew of her own free will, to which Sally refused, believing that Mrs. Frederic would not cross that line. Mrs. Frederic then proceeded to use the artifact on Sally, proving that she was ready and able to cross that line. Afterwards, Sally Stukowski returned to Sykes, explaining that Mrs. Frederic did not play by the rules. Walter Sykes then had Marcus Diamond kill Stukowski with a lethal injection, who apologized as he did so.