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The government “takes seriously” a court ruling holding it responsible for Japan’s wartime abandonment of chemical and conventional weapons in China, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said Tuesday.

However, the government’s top spokesman declined to comment on whether the state would appeal Monday’s Tokyo District Court awarding damages to Chinese plaintiffs.

The court ordered the state to pay some 190 million yen in compensation to 13 Chinese who lost relatives or suffered health problems from weapons abandoned by the Imperial Japanese Army in the closing days of World War II.

During a regular news conference, Fukuda pointed out that in May, the same court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims in a similar case. “The rulings are different, and we will decide what action to take after carefully studying the (latest) ruling.”

At the same time, however, Fukuda said he has ordered the Defense Agency to thoroughly collect and disclose information regarding abandoned weapons. The court accused the government of inaction for not providing sufficient information to China.

Fukuda also said the government will consider accelerating the disposal of abandoned weapons, as Japan must destroy all chemical weapons left behind in China by 2007 under a 1997 international treaty banning such arms.

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