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Chinese victims of poison gas leak from chemical weapons left by Japanese military sue Japanese government

Forty-eight Chinese filed a law suit against the Japanese government in the Tokyo District Court on January 25, seeking more than 1.4 billion yen in compensation for their suffering and health damages caused by poison gas leak from chemical weapons that the former Japanese Imperial Army had abandoned in China.

The plaintiffs' legal team at a press conference emphasized the need to provide victims with lifelong medical and livelihood support, not a one-off payment, on the grounds of their illnesses being progressive, saying, "The toxic gas leakage has destroyed their lives."

Pointing out that the Japanese government failed to propose a concrete plan of humanitarian support in the three-and-a-half-year period of negotiations, the legal team said, "There is no way to materialize humanitarian support other than legally holding the Japanese government responsible based on the realities of the suffering."

Plaintiffs, including 27-year-old Ding Shuwen who had been exposed to the toxic gas at a construction site, demanded that the Japanese government provide them with a guarantee for lifelong healthcare.

The poison gas leakage occurred in August 2003 in Qiqihar in Heilongjiang Province, killing one Chinese and injuring 43.

In the war of aggression against China, the former Japanese Imperial Army killed many Chinese people using poison gas weapons that were banned the international laws even at that time.

When the war ended, the Japanese military discarded highly toxic agents such as yperite (mustard gas) and lewisite in Chinese rivers and ponds or buried them in the ground in order to cover up their use of poison gas.

The number of chemical weapons the Japanese military abandoned in China was estimated between 300,000 and 400,000 by the Japanese government, and about two million by the Chinese government.

The Chemical Weapons Convention that Japan ratified in 1995 requires the Japanese government to detoxify and dispose of these gas weapons by 2007.

However, the Japanese government has neither apologized nor compensated the victims on the grounds that the 1972 Japan-China Joint Statement settled the issue of Chinese rights to make a claim against Japan concerning damages from WWII.

The Japanese Communist Party in the Diet has been demanding that the Japanese government voluntarily compensate the victims in order to come to terms with its past atrocities.
- Akahata, January 11 & 26, 2007

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