As the coronavirus affects people the world over, the newfound attention on viruses has brought historical events related to infectious disease and the Pacific War to light. During the war, Japanese soldiers engaged in a fierce land battle. While the fighting itself was intense, it is said that 60% of their forces were lost to starvation and disease. To combat infection, the Japanese military set up the Southern Army Epidemic Prevention and Water Supply Department. Japan's monopoly on the wonder drug quinine gave them an initial advantage over the United States in the fight against malaria, but they soon found themselves in a difficult situation. Other infectious diseases were becoming rampant. A vaccine was desperately needed, but Japan's harsh vaccine development process resulted in the deaths of many Indonesians. The grim reality of the Department's activities has been revealed via new documents and testimonies.
A memorandum depicting soldiers falling to malaria
Surviving family member of a solider from the Epidemic Prevention and Water Supply Department