China to Put Japanese Germ Warfare Site on UNESCO List

China wants Japan's notorious World War II germ warfare experimentation unit to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Korean consulate in Shenyang said Heilongjiang Province and the provincial capital Harbin are to submit a plan to protect the site of Unit 731 to the central government. It comes after the city's history committee last month called for the government to be fully involved in the application process.

Like the Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome), which, as a reminder of the first atomic bomb explosion, was inscribed in the World Heritage List in 1996, Unit 731 should also qualify since "the remaining ruins can serve as a reminder of the horrible atrocities Japanese troops committed in China," the committee said.

A site must meet six criteria to be listed. Of the criteria for cultural sites, one is that it must be "directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance." The inclusion of the Hiroshima site was justified on the basis of this criterion. But UNESCO also recommends the criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with the other criteria.  

Unit 731, which was based south of Harbin, conducted from 1932 to 1945 brutal experiments on human beings including vivisection. It also waged germ warfare in nearby areas. Until now, 1,467 victims have been confirmed though estimates say there are an additional 300,000. The Japanese government has admitted the unit's existence but avoided comment on the atrocities.

englishnews@chosun.com / Feb. 08, 2010 12:29 KST