On the eve of the 75th anniversary of the Chinese people's victory in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45), the National Library of China in Beijing released newly categorized and published documents on Wednesday relating to Japanese war crimes.
The 18-volume Documents on Japanese Biological Warfare was compiled from many firsthand materials collected by the library from overseas.
In addition, a database including the documents also went online on the library's website on Wednesday.
Rao Quan, director of the national library, said the documents were being published "to remember wartime heroes and victims at that time and thus promote patriotism".
"Through these precious and rarely seen documents, history can talk and solid foundations are offered to support the facts."
According to Rao, biological warfare is a key aspect in historical studies on Japanese aggression in China, as well as World War II in a global perspective.
For example, Japanese Army Unit 731 conducted a decadelong covert biological and chemical warfare research program in Harbin, today's capital of Heilongjiang province.
A 1941 Japanese air raid in Changde, Hunan province, was considered to have caused an outbreak of plague, according to testimony of local residents as well as witnesses and investigators from Europe and the United States. And, in 1942, the Chinese government accused Japan of launching biological warfare in Zhejiang, Shanxi and several other provinces, the documents showed.
However, the international community's recognition of these outrages against humanity is vague because of their confidentiality and the fact that Japan destroyed most related materials before it surrendered to the Allies.
A postwar international investigative team led by the US in 1945 considered the evidence about biological warfare "inconclusive".
International academic study of Japanese biological warfare only resumed in the 1980s. However, this remained insufficient compared with other research fields, said Rao, who pointed out that the newly published documents will fill a gap in this regard.
Documents on Japanese Biological Warfare has over 10,000 pages of materials related to Japanese human experiments to research biological weapons in laboratories, original Allied intelligence reports and postwar investigations involving victims and soldiers.
Li Guoqiang, deputy director of the Chinese Academy of History affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the publication of the documents means that "the great significance of the victory can be fully displayed".
"And that will also help people to remember the past, learn the lessons and better embrace the future," he said.
The national library has cooperated with the CASS on a series of research programs on documents related to the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression since 2012, including documents related to military issues, the economy, social changes, transportation and postwar trials. More than 1,000 volumes of such documents have been published thanks to this project.