(not a car) Everybody knows The Vapors’ hit Turning Japanese. But what about the song Letter From Hiro from the same album? It is, I suspect, about a far darker subject than most would guess: Unit 731.

“I think it was Thursday, I think it was late,

Nineteen-thirty eight

Got a letter from Hiro, but left out the date

He said he was waiting for an outbreak.”

From the Wikipedia article on Unit 731:


Unit 731 developed chemical and biological weapons for the Japanese Imperial Army. They experimented on Chinese civilians, and performed all manner of atrocities. After the war the U.S. let some of the worst of the perpetrators off the hook in exchange for information about the weapons they developed. The leader of the unit, Ishii, was never prosecuted for war crimes, and died in 1959. Tens of thousand of Chinese civilians died as a result of the “tests” and “experiments” carried out by Unit 731.

I would not be at all surprised if this is what the song is about, as The Vapors also released a song about Jim Jones. Making pop songs about atrocities seemed to be their M.O.

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