Officials with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday urged Japan to accelerate the destruction of chemical weapons left in China by Japanese invaders during World War II.
According to the stipulations of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which went into effect in 1997, Japan should destroy all chemical weapons found in China by 2007.
On Friday, Ge Guangbiao, director of the office dealing with the problems arising from the chemical weapons that Japan left in China, which is under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lu Quan, a county of Shijiazhuang, capital of north China's Hebei Province, said: "The Japanese government should provide overall statistics on its abandoned chemical weapons in China to the Chinese government, including the location, numbers and categories of the weapons.''
Ge is now the head of the Chinese delegation aiding an investigation group sent by the Japanese government to deal with the 52 gas bombs left by the Japanese army. The investigation, which mainly aims to seal up the bombs using special hermetic containers in preparation for their future destruction, started on September 6 and is expected to end on September 22.
Saito Gun, head of the Japanese investigation group admitted on Friday to China Daily that their first-stage work last week has proved that the 52 bombs were really left by the Japanese army during World War II. Saito is a senior official with the Abandoned Chemical Weapons Office under the Japanese Cabinet.
Immediately after being found in Gaocheng, a city east of Shijiazhuang in 1991, these 52 gas bombs were transferred to a special storage place in the mountainous area around Lu Quan for safety concerns.
In reference to the compensation claims of victims injured by the bombs, Saito said he is not quite clear on the situation and refused to comment.
"How dare they say they do not know about our injuries and the economic losses caused by the bombs!'' 58-year-old Huang Chengcai said angrily on Friday. Huang is among the 20 victims who had close contact with the bombs in 1991 when they were found accidentally. They all had poisoning symptoms such as breathing difficulties, severe headaches and skin sores.
Huang said he has twice seen officials sent by the Japanese government to conduct investigations in Gaocheng since 1991 and has all the relevant information ready.
"Anyway, I will never quit seeking an apology and compensation from the Japanese government for their offensive and unreasonable behavior, never!'' said Huang, who has stuck to his guns for 12 years.
He further expressed his firm stand on taking his accusation against the Japanese government to a Japanese court. "No matter whether the Japanese courts make a just decision or not, I am determined to do this.''
Also on Friday, the site of the digging up and sealing of the 52 gas bombs in Luquan's mountainous areas was opened to the media for the very first time. Over 50 journalists from organizations at home and abroad, including China Daily, visited the site.
According to Wang Jun, an official with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs specially dealing with abandoned chemical weapons the Japanese army left in China, effective measures have been adopted to guarantee the safety of persons conducting the work and local residents, as well as protection of the environment.
A total of 21 gas bombs had been dug out by Friday, according to sources.
Currently, over 100 Chinese officials and professionals from the ministries of foreign affairs and defense are assisting the 53-member Japanese group on the site.
With assistance from the Chinese side, Japan has conducted some 40 investigations to seal up chemical weapons in China since 1995.
(China Daily September 13, 2003)