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Chinese Seeking Justice from Japan

The family of a Chinese victim of mustard gas left behind by the Japanese troops during World War II has decided to file a lawsuit against the Japanese government, lawyers have told China Daily.

Family members of Li Guizhen, who died on August 21 from serious burns from the highly toxic gas, will bring action in a Japanese court.

Some 43 other victims of the leak in Qiqihar in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province in early August hope that government officials can negotiate a settlement in the matter. A third round of Sino-Japanese discussions began yesterday in Beijing.

The Li family's lawyer Su Xiangxiang said the family plans to officially proceed with its suit the same day that 10 Japanese victims of chemical weapons left by the Japanese army during World War II plan to sue the Japanese government.

The 10 -- all Japanese children -- were poisoned in April by drinking water from local wells tainted by a chemical weapons factory in Japan used during the war.

When asked why he chose the same day as the Japanese victims, Su said in a telephone interview that both plaintiffs suffered from the same toxic chemical elements.

Statistics show that at least 22 cases have been filed against the Japanese government or Japanese enterprises by Chinese civilians since 1995 involving toxins from the war.

Yu Ning, deputy chairman of the All-China Lawyers' Association, said Chinese civilians have only won or partially won three suits, and achieved settlements in other lawsuits.

Chinese plaintiffs have failed in about a dozen other suits, and another seven lawsuits have not yet gone to hearings, Yu added.

However, Japanese defendants in three suits have appealed to higher courts, including one which resulted in a recent ruling by a Tokyo District Court judge who ordered the Japanese government to pay compensation to 13 Chinese victims.

(China Daily October 14, 2003)


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