The Tokyo District Court on Tuesday acknowledged that Japan waged germ warfare in China during World War II and caused harm to residents, but dismissed a claim by Chinese plaintiffs suing the government for compensation over the atrocities.

It is the first time for a court to recognize that the wartime army waged germ warfare, carried out by the infamous Unit 731 and other units of the Imperial army, during the 1937-1945 war Japan waged in China.

While acknowledging the germ attacks were "cruel and inhumane," Presiding Judge Koji Iwata rejected the damages sought, saying, "No international law that enables individuals to sue for war damages had been established at the time or has been now."