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Mustard gas poison claim rejected by Tokyo court|
By Li Qian | 2012-4-17 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
Zhou Tong (center) and his unidentified Japanese attorney (right) protest outside the court building at a ruling by the Tokyo District Court that refused Zhou and another Chinese youngster's request for compensation over injuries they suffered when mustard gas spilled from a cylinder they came across in July 2004.
A TOKYO court yesterday rejected a lawsuit filed by two Chinese youths who were seeking compensation for injuries caused by a poisonous gas cylinder left behind by Japanese troops during World War II.
Zhou Tong, 20, and Liu Hao, 16, from Dunhua City in northeast China's Jilin Province, and two other children came across a rusty shell in a local river in July 2004.
Toxic liquid leaked out and caused the pair's hands and legs to develop festering sores.
Their injuries were diagnosed as mustard gas poisoning.
The oily liquid is corrosive to the skin and can cause severe respiratory damage. Even today the pair suffer from ulcers on their legs and breathing problems.
Japanese military professionals were called to Dunhua a month after the incident and verified that the poisonous gas cylinder had been abandoned by invading Japanese troops as World War II entered its final stages.
More than 30 bombs, including 26 containing toxic material, were dug up.
The boys lodged their claim against the Japanese government with Tokyo District Court in January 2008.
Liu's father accompanied the two youths to court and asked the Japanese government to offer each of the duo 33 million yen (US$410,000) as compensation, according to a China Network Television report.
The court rejected the lawsuit on the grounds that Japan had started work to recover chemical weapons left in China, though it failed to prevent the accident involving the two Chinese youths, Xinhua news agency said.
China and Japan joined the United Nations Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997.
Two years later, they signed a memorandum in which Japan admitted that it had abandoned a large amount of chemical weapons in China at the end of the war, according to Xinhua.
Under the memorandum, Japan was obliged to remove the weapons by April 2007 and provide all necessary funds, equipment and personnel for their retrieval and destruction.
However, Japan asked for an extension of the deadline to the end of April 2012, Xinhua said. There is concern over whether Japan will again fail to complete the cleanup by the deadline.
Official Chinese statistics show that Japan abandoned at least 2 million tons of chemical weapons at about 40 sites in 15 provinces at the end of World War II, most of them in the three northeast provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning.
More than 2,000 Chinese people have fallen victim to Japan's abandoned chemical weapons, killed by toxic gas while working at construction sites or on other occasions, Xinhua cited China's Foreign Ministry as saying.
Between 2000 and 2010, nearly 47,000 chemical weapons left by Japanese troops were dug out, authorities said.