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Japan to Send Chemicals Task Force

A special Japanese Government-appointed task force is to come to north China's Hebei Province next week to search for chemical weapons abandoned by Japanese troops during World War II.

The 40-strong team will work in the provincial capital of Shijiazhuang from September 6 to 19 to search for chemical weapons, Japanese Embassy staff in Beijing said Wednesday.

Fifty-two toxic gas bombs are believed to have been buried in Shijiazhuang when Japanese troops withdrew.

The team will be the fourth task force since 2000 sent to China by the Japanese Government to search for abandoned chemical weapons, embassy staff said.

The previous three task forces went to cities in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province and east China's Jiangsu Province between 2000 and last year.

Li Guizhen, a 31-year-old construction worker, died on August 21 from serious burns caused by the highly toxic mustard gas that leaked from containers found in the Heilongjiang city of Qiqihar.

The chemicals were discovered on August 4 at a Qiqihar construction site. They were stored in five metallic barrels, one of which was broken by the workers, causing oil-like material to leak out and infiltrate the soil, according to a Xinhua News Agency report.

China has strongly urged Japan to shoulder full responsibility for Li's death and the losses suffered by the other victims.

(China Daily August 28, 2003)

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