We demand thorough verification of human experiments on Kikuchi Keifuen residents and disclose facts

December 9, 2022
Tsuyoshi Masuda
Japan Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions

During WW II, the Japanese army conducted human experiments on leprosy patients at the National Sanatorium Kikuchi Keifuen (Koshi City, Kumamoto Prefecture) by administering a drug named “Koha” to them. This was revealed on December 5 by Kyoto Shimbun and Kumamotonichinichi Shimbun.

Koha was a synthetic photosensitizer. According to documents of the former army in the collection of the Center for Military History of the National Institute for Defense Studies, the purpose of the research was to “develop various functions of human bodies for combat” and “improve cold-resistant functions for operations in extremely cold areas.”

The news report says: “The National Sanatorium Kikuchi Keifuen for Hansen’s Disease patients for the first time disclosed documents showing that during the war, the army conducted human experiments on its residents by administering a drug called “Koha” to them, resulting in the deaths of nine people.” The disclosed documents refer to patients as “material” and state, “The experiments are difficult due to the pain.” They reveal that while witnessing a series of deaths and serious injuries as well as escapes by two patients, military-commissioned medical personnel continued to administer the drug even after Japan lost the war.

Takashi Yoshinaka, former deputy secretary-general of the Research Society for 15 Years War and Japanese Medical Science and Service (clinical professor of the Faculty of Medicine, Kyoto University, director of Kyoto Hokenkai), said, “Without animal testing, they tried every method of administration, including intravenous injection, intraspinal injection, inhalation, suppository, and medication.” He added, “Even in light of the medical ethics of the time, it was an abnormal practice that disregarded human rights, and was similar to the Army’s Unit 731, which conducted human experiments for developing biological and chemical weapons. It showed that classified military research distorts science and ethics.”

In response to the cruel human experiments that disregarded human rights, the Japan Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions demands thorough verification of this case and disclosure of the facts so that such human rights violations and acts that go against medical ethics will not be repeated again.