• Kyodo

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The Qiqihar Municipal Government has formally asked Japan for compensation for expenses caused by a leakage of poison gas earlier this month from chemical weapons buried by the Imperial Japanese Army.

Guo Haizhou, head of a city accident body, said Sunday the city earlier submitted a written four-point demand to a Japanese survey team dispatched to the city in Heilongjiang province.

Qiqihar is claiming compensation for expenses involved with disinfecting affected areas, medical treatment and disability payments for victims, and damages resulting from suspending construction work in the area.

Japan’s basic position is not to comply with such demands because China has given up claims to wartime reparations, but Tokyo will probably have to consider the latest case separately as the damage has occurred just recently.

Guo said Japan is responsible for the leakage, noting it is the first case in which Japan has dispatched a team to the area and confirmed it was caused by the Japanese army’s poison gas.

He emphasized that the demand does not constitute a claim for war reparations but instead for “objective” compensation for incurred losses. “We hope Japan will find an appropriate way to resolve the issue with a responsible attitude,” Guo said.

The two countries exchanged a memorandum of understanding in 1999 that said Japan will dispose of its army’s abandoned chemical weapons in China, but the note does not mention how to deal with recent damage caused by poison gas.

On Aug. 4, poison gas leaked from a drum dug up at a construction site and more than 40 people were hospitalized.