Japan will pay 100 million yen to victims of last month’s leak of mustard gas from barrels abandoned in China by the Imperial Japanese Army, a government source said Tuesday.

Part of the money is intended to cover victims’ hospital fees and provide a token of sympathy, according to the source.

The gas leak killed a man in Qiqihar, Heilongjiang Province, and sickened more than 40 others.

The rest of the money will cover financial help to local medical staff, the source said.

The five barrels of chemical weapons were discovered Aug. 4 at a construction site in the city. A scrap metal collector suffered burns to 95 percent of his body after being sprayed with the poison gas while removing lead and copper fastenings from one of the five barrels. He later died of multiple organ failure.

China has demanded Japan pay money as part of compensation in connection with World War II.

But the Japanese government is unlikely to meet the demand because it says China abandoned its right to claim damages related to Japan’s invasion of China when the two countries normalized ties in 1972, according to the source.

China’s No. 2 to visit

China’s No. 2 leader will make a weeklong visit to Japan beginning Thursday to meet with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and celebrate the 25th anniversary of the signing of a peace treaty between the two countries.

Wu Bangguo is to be accompanied by Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who chaired the six-nation talks on North Korea’s nuclear arms program last week, Japanese officials said Tuesday.

Wu is chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.

His trip is part of high-level exchanges between the two countries. Last month, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda visited Beijing and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing came to Japan.

Wu’s visit apparently reflects China’s policy of enhancing bilateral relations with Japan under the leadership of President Hu Jintao.

Although the two countries have agreed on boosting high-level exchanges, plans for Koizumi’s trip to Beijing have been stalled due to his repeated visits to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, which honors World War II war criminals along with Japan’s war dead.

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