The Tokyo High Court yesterday rejected a compensation plea by a group of
Chinese victims of chemical weapons abandoned in China by the invading Japanese
army at the end of World War II.
The judgment overturned a ruling by a Tokyo district court in 2003, which
said the Japanese government should pay 190 million yen ($1.56 million) to 10
Yesterday, the higher court confirmed that Japanese troops abandoned chemical
weapons in China. However, it said there was no proof that the damage could
probably have been avoided if the Japanese government had offered relevant
information to China and helped retrieve the weapons.
admitted the fact, but refused to shoulder the responsibility It is the logic of
pirates," Zhong Jiang, a victim of a 1982 leak of a mustard gas shell which
injured four construction workers in Mudanjiang of Northeast China's
Heilongjiang Province, told a press conference in Beijing.
Zhong, who was disabled and left in poverty as a result of the accident,
suffers great pain and mental torment.
"I cannot understand it as a lawyer," said Osamu Saikawa, a Japanese lawyer
representing the Chinese. "This is an illegitimate ruling, due to their lack of
Kang Jian, deputy chief of the All China Lawyers Association's (ACLA) working
group on the abandoned chemical weapon lawsuits, said: "Everybody recognizes the
fact, including the Japanese government. But the high court did not want to be
the first one to judge its government guilty, so it chose to break the basic
Yu Ning, head of ACLA, said they would go on appealing.
"Forgiveness will bring adverse results. The significance of appealing goes
beyond the matter of compensation. It helps reshape the attitude of the Japanese
government on issues of history."
There is a rare two-page postscript attached to the ruling, calling for
political settlement of the chemical weapon issue.
The lawsuit, started in 1996, involved leakage of toxic chemicals and shell
explosions from 1974 to 1995. After the Tokyo district court's landmark ruling
in 2003, the Japanese government took the case to the higher court.
Of the three suits filed in Japan by Chinese victims, this is the only one
which won the first trial.
At least 2 million chemical weapon shells were left over by the Japanese
troops and over 2,000 Chinese citizens have been injured or killed, according to
China's Foreign Ministry.
China and Japan joined the United Nations Chemical Weapons Convention in
1997. Two years later, they signed a memorandum obliging Japan to remove all
weapons by 2007 and provide all necessary funds, equipment and personnel for
their retrieval and destruction.