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Japan conducted secret germ agent test during colonial rule

world Updated: Aug 13, 2010 15:55 IST
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Japanese troops developed a germ agent to mass-kill US cattle during World War II and secretly tested the biological weapon in Korea when the island nation ruled the Korean Peninsula, records revealed.

A Japanese army research center, known as the Noborito Institute, developed the agent that causes rinderpest, the most lethal of cattle diseases, and tested it in South Korea, according to records in a recently published book, titled, 'The Truth about Noborito Institute.'

The test was conducted on 10 cows at a river delta in the southern South Korean city of Busan in May 1944.

Researchers fired the powdered agent into the air, causing it to fall over the cows that had been placed in three rows. The animals showed typical symptoms of rinderpest after three days, and all of them died in about a week, the records said.

Noboru Kuba, the main scientist who developed the agent, drew up a summary of his research at the army institute in 1990. That summary was quoted in a 2003 book about the institute, but little attention was paid to the test in Korea at the time.

Although Korean cattle did not suffer an outbreak, the test adds to a long list of Japanese atrocities in Korea during its 1910-45 colonial rule, such as mobilising Koreans as forced laborers and sex slaves for Japanese troops.