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Japan groups: learn the lessons of history
Updated: 2004-02-22 09:32

"The aggressive war has been over for nearly 60 years, but the evil that the war seeded is still lingering," said a member of a Japanese friendship group in Harbin Sunday.

Muraoka Kyuhei, chairman of the Japan-China Friendship Association, together with leaders of another five Japanese friendship groups, Saturday visited victims of chemical weapons that were abandoned by the Japanese invaders during World War II in Qiqihar, in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.

On August 4, 2003, a toxic gas leak killed one person and injured 43 others after barrels of mustard gas abandoned by the Japanese invaders were dug up at a construction site in Qiqihar.

After hearing 11 victims' description about how they were injured and how their health conditions are now, Nakata Yoshio, chairman of the board of the Japan Association for the Promotion of International Trade, said the situation was much worse than he had expected.

"In Japan many people don't know what's really happening here. And that's why we are here. We want to see with our own eyes the real situation, and tell more Japanese people and politicians about the injuries," said Yoshio. "The war has been over for a long time, but its consequences are still being felt. For the sake of our two countries' friendship, we will urge our government to accelerate the process of destroying the left-over weapons."

Nakano Satoshi, of the Japan-China Society for Cultural Exchanges, said that he believed that the most important thing of all was to draw lessons from the tragedy.

"We need to learn the lessons of history, and pass on those lessons to coming generations. Hopefully, through our society's efforts, we let more people know the truth, and make them face up to history," he said.

Chen Rongxi and his daughter were both injured by the leakage. "In my case, the tragedy has involved two generations. I hope the Japanese government will assume its responsibility, and dispose of the abandoned chemical weapons as soon as possible. Younger generations don't deserve new injuries," Chen said.

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