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A senior Environment Ministry official indicated Thursday it is unlikely that Ibaraki Prefecture residents who fell ill after drinking well water apparently contaminated by chemical weapons abandoned at the end of World War II would receive any redress.

Vice Environment Minister Shigeru Sumitani told a news conference that the wells in the town of Kamisu were likely tainted by arsenic from weapons left behind by the Imperial Japanese Army.

But the case is tied to issues of postwar compensation, so the government cannot make an exception, he said.

On Wednesday, the residents of Kamisu asked Environment Minister Yuriko Koike to compensate them for their suffering.

In June, the government began paying the medical costs of sickened residents under a hastily created aid program.

The assistance covers the victims’ previous and future medical expenses.

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