WWII-era poison gas suit rejected by court

Kyodo

The Tokyo District Court rejected a lawsuit Monday filed by two Chinese who sued the government for injuries caused by a poisonous gas shell the Imperial Japanese Army left in China at the end of World War II.

While expressing regret over the injuries, the presiding judge, Hisaki Kobayashi, said that even though the Japanese government did not take specific steps to prevent the incident, it does not mean Japan’s response was unreasonable.

Kobayashi said the Chinese government did not recognize the urgency of dealing with abandoned shells in the area of Jilin Province where the incident occurred, and that the Japanese government would have been unable to recognize the danger by specifying the area where the shell was abandoned.

Zhou Tong, 19, and Liu Hao, 15, sued the Japanese government in January 2008, seeking ¥33 million each for injuries they suffered in July 2004 after touching liquid on the shell, which they found at a river in the province. They were hospitalized for nearly two months.

They charged that the Japanese government had recognized the possibility poison gas weapons were abandoned in the area and that it should have informed residents of the danger and conducted a survey to find them.