had been a regular outlaw during the war. He ran a black market
operation, dealing in sugar, meat, and other rare foodstuffs.
He made a reasonable living in that hard time and acquired important
friends. Near the end of the war, the American bombers knocked
out the neighborhoods where he conducted business. Not even the
black market survived the final wave of bombings. Inside prison,
Atsushi realized that he knew a number of the prisoners from public
life. Much spontaneous bowing followed between Atsushi and politicians
in nearby cells.
end of the war caught the Japanese by surprise. The country had
been gearing up for an invasion, and the politicians had stoked
up the illusion of an all-pervading American assault. Rape, burning,
pillaging, looting, the usual sort of activity the Japanese had
engaged in after invading China. The politicos were wrong. The
war ended quickly after the atom bombs were dropped. When the
Americans arrived, their gun barrels pointed toward the ground,
and they handed out cigarettes and Hershey bars.
made bets with his cellmate, Yoshio Takaida, a low-level politico
himself, on which of the big pols would be put on trial, blamed
for the war, and sacrificed for the bloodshed, and which ones
would melt away in the landscape, to spring back full-sized, holding
the levers of power in the Diet again. Both Atsushi and Yoshio
found out that Julian had played baseball in college. He played
second base before the war, and had an astonishing memory for
baseball stats. His father had been a sportswriter. From age four
he had Julian swinging a bat and throwing a ball. He taught him
to throw left and right handed. Baseball was his father's life.
And Julian from early dawn until the sun had gone down lived and
breathed the sport.
three months after Julian assumed command of the prison, he had
organized prisoners into several teams. He had permission. This
was clever of the authorities. Baseball was the one sphere of
culture that transcended all the differences, even the war, and
had been a welcome morale booster for prisoners who, after the
surrender, had little hope for the future. Julian appointed himself
coach of the team that included Atsushi and Yoshio. Before Julian
launched the baseball project, each day in prison had about as
much definition as a grease smudge. Once they rolled up their
sleeves, put on the gloves, got out the bats, their sense of utter
discouragement, sense of loss and failure eased. Even the pols
whose necks rested on the block of world opinion relaxed.
managed to keep his baseball activity at a low profile. At its
height, only six teams reached the field. A small number out of
a total prison population of 1, 128. The other prisoners had the
indirect thrill of listening to the stories brought in by the
putting his skills at work, organized betting on the outcome of
the games. By early fall of '45, in the playoffs, Julian's team
- he was a player/coach - the Block Eight Angels, won the prison
championship. In that same year, Detroit beat Chicago in the World
Japanese players carried Julian off the makeshift field on their
shoulders. Morale had never been higher. Julian was respected.
His opinions, not just on baseball, but on the Occupation, marriage,
women, business, politics were sought, passed on, as if he were
a great sage. The Japanese were programmed for respect. They required
an a person to fill the gap left by the surrender. Someone to
tell them what to do. Someone who could lead them. Major Julian
was a myth waiting to be claimed. His myth soon became larger
than the man, and the man was left with the difficult task of
conquering his own mythology.
Japanese were connoisseurs of personal strength, physical endurance,
and toughness. Not that Julian did not have those qualities; it
was just that the Japanese inflated them, and reassembled Julian
Bonner in such a fashion as to make the whole larger than his
individual parts. Julian, they thought, brought them good fortune.
They loved his ritual like devotion to winning and achievement.
Besides, there were few other candidates after the war. At least,
not in Sugamo prison. Of course, there was General MacArthur,
but like the Emperor, he was remote, and occupied another realm.
excited the chemistry of the prisoners. There was no question
that by the winter of '45, inside Sugamo prison, Major Julian
was one of the most revered, respected, influential Americans
in Japan. With the Japanese who counted. And most of the ones
who mattered were in Sugamo prison.
who led a baseball team to victory, on a personal basis, was a
rookie in dealing with General MacArthur and those at Dai Ichi.
The General carefully built a cult following. The General was
like a hybrid fish, a goldfish head and a shark's killer tail
fin. He played the power game with enormous skill and energy in
the tradition of a feudal lord. In Washington, he was thought
of as a military commander. They never understood the essence
of MacArthur. Surrender made him a ruler. A king and Japan was
jewel of this kingdom, Tokyo, had been filled with destruction
and sorrow. The City was the perfect place for the men around
MacArthur to enjoy their own power and satisfy their own ambition.
Julian, on the other hand, stuck to his job, and baseball. Because
of his status, even the "elder" politicos and military
types told him things. Secrets that military intelligence had
not been told. They exposed themselves to Major Julian because
they believed in him. He had established a social order, and it
was their way of repaying him in the only currency they had -
information, facts, data, secrets and rumors.
politico served in China during the war and, first hand, inspected
731-Corps. Talked to the "doctors" and officers in charge,
looked through the records. This pol had a ferocious reputation.
At night, though, he woke in a fright, sweating and choking on
the images from the camps in Manchuria called Harbin. He spoke
of the ghosts who haunted his sleep.
Japanese General named Shiro Ishii ran the operation. Really bad,
beyond evil, sorts of experiments. Aussies, Brits, and Americans
strapped to their cots by soldiers, as doctors and cholera. The
lucky ones lapsed into coma and died without regaining consciousness.
The unlucky awoke to bodies they no longer recognized.
lingered for months with convulsions, tumors, inflamed joints,
lymph glands bloated like a blowfish. Cot after cot of men wheezing
and coughing in the cold and dark. A place where disease was created,
turning bodies into abnormal shapes and colors. All that numbness,
pain, death haunted the pol as he tried to sleep at night.
politico gradually unfolded the full story to Julian. For a month,
each afternoon, Julian sat in his cell listening to the politico,
using Atsushi as his translator. General Ishii and his staff,
with the war lost, blew up the labs, the holding pens, the dorms.
Set them on fire, having poured petrol on the diseased bodies
unable to move from their cots. And most of the records went up
in blue smoke. Major Julian Bonner, who had retained the confidence
of prisoners, was unable to keep the information to himself; he
wrote a report, and personally delivered his account of 731 -Corps
to General MacArthur in February '48.
then Atsushi and Yoshio had been out of prison for over a year.
Most of the politicos had been either hanged or re-elected to
the Diet. The '48 American Presidential election campaign began
heating up, and the warmth had spread to Dai Ichi. The morning
Julian arrived, the General had been dictating a letter to a Congressman
who wanted him to become more actively involved in the campaign
for the Republican nomination.
received Julian on short notice. Julian had served with General
MacArthur for six years. In all that time, he had never felt comfortable
in the General's presence; he was a man who maintained a substantial
distance between himself and staff.
knowledge about the General's personal life was widely known in
the small circle of officers around him. His Jean, and his Eurasian
minor wife, Isabel Cooper. Julian was valued by the General because
of the Major's family connection to the United States Senator
Kenneth Wherry of Nebraska. Senator Wherry was a supporter of
the General's candidacy, and had mentioned Julian's name in one
of his letters to the General. This connection guaranteed Julian
laid the evidence of what the Japanese did near Harbin on the
table that morning. Evidence of a special elite medical unit.
In field hospitals the doctors had been breeding people like dogs
in a kennel. Americans with Chinese women. In one experiment doctors
removed the fetus, photographed it, sliced it up, looked at cells
from the brain, liver, heart, and other organs under a microscope.
In many of the breeding experiments, the captured soldier was
infected with a disease before his sperm had been used to inseminate
a Chinese woman.
General sat back in his chair, smoking his pipe. General Shiro
Ishii, who had surrendered to an officer in the U.S. Chemical
Corps, was living a life of some luxury in Hawaii. The U.S. Army
provided him a beachfront house, a boat, a couple of women, and
lots of liquor. They wanted to ensure that General Ishii was a
happy expat. MacArthur continued to listen, the smoke growing
thicker from his pipe, as Julian explained how the Japanese politician
revealed that the U.S. Army Chemical Corps had struck a bargain
with Ishii. He had delivered all his personal records of the medical
experiments, and in return the Americans promised all his needs
would be taken looked after - for life. There was a long silence
after Julian finished.
asked General MacArthur to blow the lid on the U.S. Army Chemical
Corps. He requested the General order Ishii tried as a war criminal
and injected with a few pints of slime. The General rose from
his chair, walked over to the window, removed his pipe.
war has caused much pain to many, " said MacArthur. "We
have a great mission in Japan. To rebuild this country, bring
democracy, freedom, and justice to these defeated people. Sometimes
hard decisions must be made. A price must be paid to place the
misery, destruction, and the past behind."
my report, with all due respect, sir, shows..."
General held up his hand. "You have done a professional job,
Major Bonner. Your handling of Sugamo Prison has been commented
on by your superiors in the most favorable terms."
has nothing to do with the prison."
struck the bowl of his pipe against the side of the ashtray. "You
must stick to your job. And let me decide what orders should be
given. Power is a symbol. Don't ever forget the importance of
the symbol. We cannot, and I will not, sanction a witch hunt to
destroy the very symbol so many of our men died to preserve. Is
that understood, Major?"
General, in fact, knew that Julian had done a professional job
in running Sugamo Prison. He had been part of the reconstruction
of the spirit of the Japanese people. He also was aware that the
U.S. Army Chemical Corps had made a difficult decision in the
national interest of the American people. There was too much at
stake for General MacArthur to demand that the American chemical
warfare people, who had acted in good faith, should be tarnished
with Major Bonner's allegations.
MacArthur wanted to be President of the United States. What Julian
had asked of him would have been the equivalent of walking into
a rotating propeller blade. As he stared into MacArthur's eyes,
an important moment of crisis had been reached for Julian; and
as he turned, walked out of the office, something inside the man
broke. Later, Julian circled Dai Ichi for over an hour; each revolution
of the complex, he stopped at the front, but did not go inside.
above, the last time around 0 he saw the General standing in the
window, looking down, the pipe in the corner of his mouth. Killing
and screwing always exceeded the normal bounds during war. Everyone
acknowledged that. What the 731-Corps had done was carried on
in another dimension; in a location deeply buried in man, where
some primitive evil animal life escaped from bottle of civility,
and hideously, with a clear eye and head, systematically injected
chemicals and disease into the spinal column of men created officers
and gentlemen by an Act of Congress.
felt all the people who had died in the 73 1 -Corps labs had been
betrayed. Casualties of the war to be forgotten. No funerals.
No ceremony. No remembrance for their suffering. As Julian stared
up at the General, he knew one thing for certain: he could never
live in the United States. He would make his life in Japan. It
was better to live among the murderers than in a place where those
in power believed that a profit might be turned from atrocities.
There were certain things no men should ever have done or condoned
on God's earth. The 731 Corps was more than an obscenity. It was
a funeral for truth and humanity. It was a signal that those who
won the war were in their heart no different from those who had
lost it. The whole lot were breeders and killers looking to change
evolution and the origin of species.
Major Julian Bonner, according to Atsushi, as an act of protest,
asked Atsushi to arrange for someone to paint "erection"
on a sign and hang it across the road which General MacArthur's
motorcade would use to carry the General to the airport on his
trip to America.
this word, erection?" Atsushi had asked him.
General wanted a symbol of power. Can you think of a better one?