Chinese survivors of Japanese germ warfare filed a lawsuit Thursday with the Tokyo District Court, seeking an official apology from Tokyo and 720 million yen in compensation. The 72 plaintiffs claim they are survivors of Japanese biological attacks and the next of kin of those killed in Zhejiang and Hunan provinces in southern China in the 1940s. They are seeking 10 million yen each in damages for their suffering. Thursday’s lawsuit is the second filed in connection with Japan’s use of biological weapons during the war. The first suit was filed by 108 Chinese survivors and relatives of victims in August 1997, seeking an apology and compensation from the government. That suit is still pending before the Tokyo District Court. At a news conference in Tokyo, Zhang Lizhong, 67, said his two younger brothers and grandfather died after Japanese military aircraft dropped grain containing germ-infected fleas in Changde, Zhejiang Province, in 1941. The germs contained in the bomb killed at least 6,491 people in the city, according to the plaintiffs’ group. Plaintiff Zheng Kewei, 65, said his younger brother and sister died after eating cholera-laced rice cakes that Japanese soldiers had left on a bench outside his home in August 1942. Zheng also ate a bun deliberately infected with cholera but survived after days of sickness, he said. Facts about Japan’s biological warfare remained unclear long after the war had ended, although research in recent years has shown the Imperial Japanese Army’s germ warfare arm, Unit 731, produced and used biological weapons during the war. Historians say Unit 731 killed thousands of Chinese civilians and prisoners of war by conducting biological warfare experiments on them in Manchuria. Japan has so far refused to admit that it engaged in biological warfare. Unlike other war criminals, members of Unit 731 were not persecuted by the Allied Powers because of a secret deal they struck with the United States after the war, according to experts.

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