Unpopulated ‘Poison Gas Island’ removed from maps over horrible past

‘Poison Gas Island’, a small island off the coast of Japan, has a chilling history that led to it being uninhabited by humans for decades.

Okunoshima, as it’s officially known, was once a site of terror and was even erased from maps due to the atrocities committed there.

Between 1927 and 1929, it’s believed that a chemical weapons plant on the island produced over six kilotons of mustard and tear gas.

These deadly gases were used against China until the end of World War II, earning the island its grim nickname – ‘Poison Gas Island’.

The local population suffered health problems due to their proximity to the toxic chemicals used in weapon production.

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Workers at the plant also fell ill but were forced to keep quiet about the horrors they witnessed.

Nowadays, the island’s dark past is laid bare for all to see at the Poison Gas Museum.

Exhibits include the rubber suits, masks and boots worn by workers, many of which weren’t airtight, exposing them to the deadly gases.

The museum also displays posters and photographs depicting the horrific effects of the chemicals on the human body.

The island is now home to thousands of rabbits, with some speculating they are descendants of test subjects from years ago. The island has been dubbed ‘Rabbit Island’, and hunting the bunnies is banned, as are cats and dogs.

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Photographer Paul Brown visited in 2015 and said: “Largely unknown until a couple of years ago, Rabbit Island is fast becoming a popular tourist attraction.”

He added: “The moment anyone reaches into a bag, or rustles anything resembling paper, they are quickly surrounded by rabbits.

“It really is an amazing experience to be surrounded by a fluffy mass of cuteness but after a while, as one gets used to the novelty, the surrealness of the situation becomes apparent.

“During the period 1930-1945, the island was used as a storehouse and testing ground for poison gas, and the remains of the facilities can still be found on a walk around the island which is truly fascinating.

“Apparently rabbits were shipped as test subjects but it seems likely they were all destroyed along with the gas in 1945.

“Another rumour is a school teacher brought some rabbits for school children to play with and from just a few rabbits, there are now thousands of descendants.

“Whatever the source, the rabbits continue to thrive as there are no natural predators on the island and cats and dogs are banned.”

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