TOKYO, Japan (AP) -- The Japanese navy conducted surgical training on Filipinos, including women and children, during World War II and then killed them, a repentant medic who said he took part was quoted as saying.
Akira Makino, 84, a former navy medic stationed on Mindanao island in the Philippines during the war, told Kyodo News agency that about 30 people were operated on as part of medical training before being strangled to death between December 1944 and February 1945.
Operations performed on the victims included severing legs and arms and abdominal surgery, in some cases after their faces were covered with a cloth and sprayed with ether, Kyodo quoted Makino as saying Saturday.
The bodies of the 30 Filipinos were later buried, he said.
Makino, who is now living in the western Japanese city of Hirakata, said he came forward because of nightmares after keeping the grisly secret for more than 60 years, Kyodo said.
"We should not repeat such miseries again," Makino said. "I want to tell the truth about the war, even if it is to only one person or two."
It was believed to be the first account of such atrocities by the Japanese Imperial Navy in the Philippines, Kyodo reported. The Imperial Army's Unit 731, based in northern China, is believed to have conducted medical experiments on Chinese prisoners during the war.
Makino said he was ordered by a superior to practice surgery on two Filipino men, captured as U.S. spies, who were undressed and tied to an operating table.
"I thought, 'What a horrible thing I'm doing to innocent people, even though I'm ordered to do it,"' he said. "I would have been killed if I had disobeyed the order. That was the case in those days."
After the experiments, the captives were strangled with a rope to make sure they were dead, Makino said.
Unit 731, in Harbin, China, injected prisoners of war with typhus, cholera and other diseases for biological warfare research during the war, historians and former unit members say.
Researchers say at least 3,000 people died from injections, human vivisection and induced gangrene in experiments, or were executed later to keep them from talking.
Officials at Japan's Health Ministry and Foreign Ministry were not available for comment Saturday.