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on the road - 17 05 2003 - 11:46 - katatonik

poison gas island

“Okunojima, a small island in the Inland Sea of Japan, off the shore of Takehara city was notorious for the production of poison gases from 1927 to 1945. Of the gases produced there, yperite and lewisite were the most poisonous and caused severe residual damage.”

(Testimony of Dr. Christine M. Gosden on Chemical and Biological Weapons Threats to America: Are We Prepared? April 22nd, 1998).

Pictures of the former gas poison factory on Okunojima (page in Japanese).

Allegedly, the poison gas factory on Okunojima was so secret that trains driving past the island on the coast had their windows facing the sea barred. In 1945, the workers, who included many forced labourers from China and Korea, were liberated, as were the many rabbits used in experiments.

The workers left. The rabbits stayed. Today Okunojima is a beautiful spot in the Inland Sea, with a museum on poison gas in general and its production on Okunojima in particular, with a holiday resort and a beach, and myriads of freely roaming, very tame rabbits. I was there, a few years ago, briefly.

I talked to the founder of the museum, Murakami Hatsuichi. He worked in the poison gas factory for many years and says that no Chinese or Koreans worked in the factory. However the gas from Okunojima was used extensively in the war against China. Where did you get your information from?

Andreas Hippin (May 26, 08:20 am) #

Sloppy memory, I guess, confirmed by sloppy reading of Ian Buruma's "Wages of Guilt". On pp.109f., Buruma briefly touches upon Okunojima (also mentioning Mr. Murakami who, Buruma says, had started working at the factory in 1940 as a fourteen-year-old janitor), and in this context mentions that due to official Chinese sources, more than 80,000 Chinese fell victim to gases produced at the factory. In my memory, this must have become distorted to reports about forced labour. I think the Japanese people who visited the museum with me also mentioned something to this effect, but they might have been wrong, too. Anyway, thanks for putting the finger were the information is unsubstantiated.

katatonik (May 30, 01:27 am) #

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