Two schoolboys in northeastern China were injured five days ago by a chemical bomb abandoned by Japanese troops during World War II.
Liu Hao, nine, a native of Lianhuapao Village in Dunhua, Jilin Province, suffered serious wounds on his right hand and right leg. The other boy, also nine, suffered less severe injuries. The children were sent to a local hospital for treatment.
Local police sealed up the bomb and cordoned off the area around the village to prevent additional injuries.
Liu and three other children uncovered the chemical weapons five days ago when they were playing near a river close to their village, Liu's grandmother told local media.
Out of curiosity, one of the boys pried open the rusted weapon and an orange liquid flowed out, the woman said.
Burnt by the liquid that spilled on his leg, the boy threw the 50-centimeter-long tube to the ground. The liquid splashed onto his fingers and legs.
The two other boys escaped unharmed.
Some 670,000 chemical weapons were dumped in Dunhua, the area in China with the most abandoned Japanese chemical weapons, according to a report in Shanghai's Oriental Outlook.
Earlier this month, two Japanese veterans in their 80s, who served during World War II, went to Dunhua to identify the locations where they recalled burying toxic weapons.
Although no chemical weapons were discovered, they provided a rough map of sites of discarded weapons, local media said.
Bu Ping, vice president of the Heilongjiang Academy of Social Sciences and a researcher on chemical weapons left by the Japanese, estimates that more than 2 million toxic chemical weapons were left in dozens of Chinese cities and provinces at the end of World War II.
Since the end of the war, about 2,000 Chinese have been injured or killed by abandoned weapons.
A leak killed one person and injured 43 when barrels of mustard gas were dug up at a construction site in Qiqihar, Heilongjiang Province, last year.
However, the Japanese government has been hesitant to compensate victims, claiming that inadequate data exists to prove cases in court.
On Saturday, the Japan Defense Agency published a historical document stating that Japanese troops used toxic mustard gas as a chemical weapon when invading China during World War II, according to Japan's Mainichi Shimbun. The document reportedly said that a Japanese military official ordered his soldiers to use chemical weapons on key facilities when troops invaded Shanxi Province in north China on February 6, 1942.
Acting on the official's orders, Japanese special forces placed barrels of mustard gas at 10 locations in specified areas, the report said.
To date, the Japanese government has denied using deadly chemical weapons such as mustard gas during World War II, although it has admitted using non-lethal chemical weapons.
The report urged the Japanese government to conduct thorough investigations into the use of chemical weapons during World War II to prevent future accidents.
(China Daily July 28, 2004)