The government on Friday appealed to the Tokyo High Court a ruling ordering it to pay compensation for fatalities and injuries caused by chemical weapons the Imperial Japanese Army abandoned in China at the end of World War II.
On Monday, the Tokyo District Court found the government responsible for the suffering it caused the Chinese victims of poison gas. The government was ordered to pay the plaintiffs a total of 190 million yen.
Referring to its decision to contest the ruling, the Foreign Ministry said the district court in May ruled in favor of the state in a similar case.
“The judiciary’s decisions are divided,” the ministry said, “and we feel that it is best to appeal and seek the decision of a higher court.”
Tokyo claims the issue of wartime compensation was settled by the 1972 China-Japan Joint Communique and refuses to offer any redress for offenses stemming from that time.
On Monday, however, the court ruled that Japan had been obligated to provide China with information regarding the abandoned weapons or offer to recover and dispose of them.
Beijing voiced dissatisfaction over the appeal, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan stating that it is an “undeniable fact” that Japan’s chemical weapons have inflicted harm on the Chinese people.
Kong issued a statement calling on the Japanese government to “seriously” address this issue, saying that the district court ruling was “grave and fair.”
Two Chinese plaintiffs currently in Japan were indignant over the latest twist.
“I am so angry at the Japanese government for trying to ignore its responsibility,” said 58-year-old Li Chen, who developed blisters over his body after coming into contact with poison gas in 1974. “The court was courageous in making a fair judgment, but the government has failed to face up to its past conduct.”
Li argued that the state must compensate because he sustained his injury during peacetime, and not during the war. He added that it is unfair that the Japanese government quickly decided to offer financial assistance for Japanese citizens who were recently injured by weapons abandoned in Japan.
Meanwhile, Liu Min, 27, who lost her father in 1995 after he came into contact with an abandoned artillery shell, vowed to continue her fight.
“My father will never come back no matter how much money the Japanese government pays us. But I will keep fighting to restore justice,” she said, breaking down in tears.
Tokyo estimates that the Japanese military left about 700,000 weapons in China after the war ended in 1945, only some of which have been recovered. The Chinese government has put the number at 2 million, and has said between 2,000 and 3,000 Chinese have been injured or killed by them.
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