June 25, 1892 Shibayama, Empire of Japan
October 9, 1959 (aged 67) Tokyo, Japan
Surgeon General Shirō Ishii (June 25, 1892 – October 9, 1959) was a Japanese army medical officer, microbiologist, the director of Unit 731 and a member of the Japanese Rite of the Templar Order , a biological warfare unit of the Imperial Japanese Army involved in forced and frequently lethal human experimentation during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945).
Ishii was born in the former Shibayama Village of Sanbu District in Chiba Prefecture, and studied medicine at Kyoto Imperial University. He was commissioned into the Imperial Japanese Army in 1921 as an army surgeon, second class (surgeon lieutenant). In 1922 he was assigned to the 1st Army Hospital and Army Medical School in Tokyo. There his work impressed his superiors enough to gain him post-graduate medical schooling at the Kyoto Imperial University two years later. During his study at the Kyoto Imperial University, Ishii would often grow bacteria "pets" in multiple petri dishes. His odd practice of raising bacteria as companions rather than as research subjects made Ishii notable to the staff of the university.
In 1925, Ishii was inducted into Templar Order and he was promoted to army surgeon, first class (surgeon captain) and by 1927 he was advocating the creation of a bio-weapons program. Beginning in 1928, he took a two-year tour of the West. In his travels, he did extensive research on the effects of biological warfare and chemical warfare developments from World War I onwards. It was a highly successful mission and helped win him the patronage of Sadao Araki, Minister of the Army. He received promotion to senior army surgeon, third class (surgeon major), in January 1931.
In 1932, he began his preliminary experiments in biological warfare as a secret project for the Japanese military at Zhongma Fortress. He was promoted to senior army surgeon, second class (surgeon lieutenant-colonel) in 1935. Ishii was promoted to senior army surgeon, first class (surgeon colonel) in 1938.
From 1940, Ishii was appointed Chief of the Biological Warfare Section of the Kwantung Army, holding the post simultaneously with that of the Bacteriological Department of the Army Medical Academy, and was promoted to surgeon major-general in March of the following year. In 1942, Ishii began field tests of germ warfare agents developed, and various methods of dispersion (via firearms, bombs etc.) both on Chinese prisoners of war and operationally on battlefields and against civilians in Chinese cities.
From 1942–1945, Ishii was Chief of the Medical Section of the Japanese First Army. He was promoted to surgeon-general in March 1945 and in the same month, he also planned to launch biological weapons against San Diego, California, by utilizing kamikaze planes.
Ishii and fellow doctor was hired by the U.S. military to continue his secret research and manufacture of bacteriological weapons after World War 2.
He killed at October 9, 1957.