HISTORY SHALL BE REMEMBERED
The documentary, while irritating the ultra-rightwing forces, exposed many Japanese people to the truth of the war, and many start to reflect upon history.
Nobuo Okimatsu, veteran at World War II and head of a civil group dedicated to promoting Sino-Japanese friendship, said that in Japan, the truth about Unit 731 is a part of the history that has been touchy to many, but it is also something that the people shall know about.
"The Japanese people shall know about the crimes that Japan has committed in the past," he said.
Tamaki Matsuoka, a former primary teacher who has devoted 30 years of her life conveying the historic truth about the 1937 Nanjing Massacre to the Japanese people, said it was great for the documentary to make public the audio records about Unit 731 and the Khabarovsk Trials.
But she also pointed out that the documentary failed to ask the question why most of the officers and researchers responsible for the crimes of Unit 731 went back to Japan untried and unblamed after the war, and even enjoyed academic fame afterwards.
Instead of being tried for war crimes, the researchers involved in Unit 731 were secretly given immunity by the United States in exchange for the data they gathered through human experimentation. Only those few that had been arrested by Soviet forces first were tried at the Khabarovsk War Crime Trials in 1949.
"Japan has been trying to cover up the history for over 70 years ... Whitewashing the war crimes and highlighting its own sufferings to pretend to be the victim instead of the victimizer, does no good to Japan if it wants to rebuild relationship with its neighbors in Asia," she added.
AN ALARM FOR THE PRESENT
While calling for the war crimes of Unit 731 to be never forgotten, scholars in Japan are alarmed about the current situation that has some similarities to those before the end of the war, especially as the government is attempting to revise the pacifist Constitution, and is allocating more funds for military research programs in universities.
During the World War II, Japanese military and universities had rather close bonds, with the military providing research funds for the universities, while universities supplied the military with the so-called "research talents."
For instance, according to NHK, Kyoto University sent 37 medical researchers to help the invading Japanese army in China in 1936, and the yearly number rose to 75 in 1942. Other universities such as the University of Tokyo and Keio University were also sending an increasing number of researchers to the army.