Germ Warfare Base 731 Division

This base was used by the infamous 731 division of the Japanese army to test biological weapons on prisoners. The base, which lies about 20km south of Harbin’s center, was set up in 1935 under the command of General Shiro Ishii. In the next 10 years, estimates range that anywhere between 2000 and 10000 people were killed here (mainly Chinese but also Korean, Mongolian, Russian and apparently even some American and British prisoners of war). Among an endless list of terrible procedures that were carried out were vivisections, amputations, the testing of grenades and flamethrowers, subjecting prisoners to frostbite, experiments using cholera, anthrax, the bubonic plague and venereal diseases.

In 1945, when the Soviet’s were close to re-taking Manchuria, the base was blown up by members of the 731 Division before they retreated.

The command center of the complex remains relatively intact, and now houses a museum about the atrocities. With photos, relics and displays, the museum covers the people involved and the experiments that were carried out. One room in the museum has television interviews with some of the members of the unit recounting their work there. The grounds of the base have an eerie feeling to them. The actual building where most of the experiments were conducted was destroyed – only a ditch remains where it stood. It’s well worth the trek out to the suburbs to see this museum.

Admission: ¥20. Open: 9:00-11:30; 13:00-15:30.

Directions: The museum is on Xinjiang Dajie, a little more than 20km south of the city center. To get there you can take Bus #343 from the west side of the train station square and get off at the first stop after you cross a set of train tracks. However, it would probably be easier to take a taxi to the base (about ¥55 from the center) and then take the bus back.

Show the taxi driver: 请带我去侵华日军731部队遗址,谢谢。地址:平房区新疆大街25号。 (Please take me to the Germ Warfare Base. Thank you.)