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Japan to Stage Chemical Clean-up

A Japanese Government-appointed task force has been established to search for and deal with chemical weapons left over by the Japanese army during the War of Resistance Against Japan (1937-45) in Shijiazhuang, capital of North China's Hebei Province, starting today, according to sources from the Japanese Embassy in Beijing.

Workers will search for and retrieve a suspected 52 toxic bombs in the area and seal them in cases of leakage, an embassy official told China Daily on Friday.

But the official, who refused to be named, gave no details about the final disposal of the chemical weapons.

The 40-person task force, led by Hidehisa Horinouchi, director of the China and Mongolia Division under the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, consists of government officials, international-affair researchers and chemical weapons disposal experts, according to the anonymous official.

He said the mission is scheduled to last two weeks, finishing on September 19.

Just before the coming of the task force, Sino-Japanese talks were held in Beijing on the compensation for damage caused by the leakage of toxic mustard gas left over by the Japanese army during in Qiqihar, Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, in early August.

The official with Japanese Embassy said the talks reached no consensus and a new round of discussions was expected.

According to a report published in Japan's Daily Yomiuri newspaper, 10 billion Japanese yen (US$86 million) will be used to resolve the issue in the name of "condolence" payments and not "compensation" for those who have suffered from the left-over chemical weapons. But the anonymous embassy official denied such assertions to China Daily.

The leakage of mustard gas reported on August 4 is believed to have caused 40 injuries and one death.

(China Daily September 6, 2003)

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