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Japanese War Crimes

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, Imperial Japan engaged in a number of horrendous practices that have since been identified as war crimes. Between 1937 and 1945, for example, as part of the fighting of World War II, Japanese forces murdered between 3 and 10 million people, including prisoners of war from western nations. Japanese War CrimesThe most famous of these was the Nanking Massacre between 1937 and 1938 when the Japanese army was responsible for the torture and deaths of up to 300,000 civilians and prisoners of war. As with any extreme displays of brutality such as this, the exact death toll can never be fully realized. From 1942 to 1945, Japan engaged in the “three alls” policy – kill all, burn all, loot all – as a systematic tactic of war. While using this tactic against enemy military forces might not be considered a war crime, carrying it out on civilians certainly is.

Other examples of Japanese war crimes included human experimentation on prisoners of war and civilians in China; these included significant surgeries, including amputations, without the use of anesthesia and testing various biological weapons on human subjects. Japanese military personnel would torture prisoners in an attempt to collect intelligence; Allied airmen who were captured were systematically executed. Prisoners of war and civilians throughout Asia were used as forced labor by the Japanese military, possibly numbering as high as 20 million people. One war crime, that of forcing women into sexual slavery as “comfort women,” was carried out against more than 200,000 women and is often overlooked when compared to the various atrocities carried out by Imperial Japan.

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