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Hunt Starts for Abandoned Chemical Weapons

A large-scale search for chemical weapons abandoned by Japanese troops at the close of World War II started Monday in Dunhua, northeast China’s Jilin Province. It is the first large-scale search in Dunhua’s Lianhuapao forest area.


Eleven Japanese chemical weapons experts and several of their Chinese counterparts had previously arrived in the area and drafted a search plan. The local newspaper New Culture reported that 30 experts from both countries, assisted by soldiers, conducted a preliminary search on Sunday.


The undertaking is expected to continue until November 19, with experts systematically moving through the area looking for metal, according to the Japanese Embassy.


The search will mainly focus on both sides of a ditch where weapons were once found, two craters in the forest and three to five square kilometers of the surrounding area.


New Culture stated that a large number of chemical weapons were abandoned in the nearby Ha’erba Mountain range. According to some estimates, there are nearly 700,000 weapons buried in the surrounding area.


Experts say it would take at least 10 days to destroy these weapons.


Bu Ping, a scholar from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and a researcher on chemical weapons left by the Japanese, estimates that Japanese troops abandoned over 2 million chemical weapons in a dozen Chinese cities and provinces at the end of World War II.


On July 30, 1999, China and Japan signed a memorandum in which the Japanese government acknowledged that its troops had abandoned these weapons in China and promised to fulfill its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The CWC states that all such weapons should be destroyed by 2007.


(China Daily, China.org.cn November 9, 2004)


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