Victims press demands for compensation
( 2003-09-11 07:11) (China Daily)
Concerned people in the provincial capital of North China's Hebei Province have been keeping a keen eye on the joint investigation being conducted by China and Japan of the 52 gas bombs the Japanese army left here during World War II, which has been going on under wraps since Saturday.
"I hope the Japanese Government will face squarely the compensation issue, which we first put forward in 1991 when the bombs were found in our school and injured at least 90 people,'' Huang Chengcai, former President of the Gaocheng Middle School in Shijiazhuang said to China Daily yesterday.
Huang said his school has asked for compensation of 319,000 yuan (US$38,500) for direct economic losses caused by the 52 bombs, but that the Japanese Government has given no response over the past 12 years, after visiting the site twice, in 1992 and 2001.
The victims are now ready to bring accusations against the Japanese Government, he said.
Over 90 people who had contact with the bombs suffered from headache, nausea and itching. Over 300 students are also suspected to have been affected by the bombs, according to a report by the middle school to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The place where the school is located was a Japanese military weapons storage base during World War II, according to Huang, who noted that there are words such as "Made in Osaka" stamped on the bombs.
For 69-year-old Jia Xinchun and other residents in Bailuquan Village in Shijiazhuang, it is no doubt shocking news that 52 gas bombs have been lying near them for 12 years without their being informed of the matter.
The 52 bombs were transferred to Luquan from Gaocheng because of safety concerns after they were confirmed to be gas bombs. They were stored at an army ammunition depot on Lianhua Mountain in Bailuquan township, a kilometre away from the Bailuquan Village.
"Anyway, I approve of our government's handling of the bombs, and they must be very sure that the bombs will not hurt us,'' Jia said.
"Villagers are eager to hear the results of the investigation. I hope the Japanese will take back the bombs as soon as possible,'' said Jia, who was one of a group of children who fought against the Japanese during World War II.
Jia said fortunately none of the villagers have had any poisoning symptoms during the past 12 years.
There is proof that the Japanese army used gas bombs several times in Hebei Province between 1937 and 1945, including in Beitong Village of Dingzhou in 1942, when the Japanese army killed over 800 Chinese people with gas bombs.
Two gas bombs were found in Gaocheng in the early 1950's but no casualties were reported, according to sources.
The Japanese Embassy did not give any comment yesterday on latest developments in the investigation.
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