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Victims of Germ Warfare Protest over Japanese Court Ruling
About 400 Chinese victims of Japan's germ warfare in central China Tuesday protested over a ruling by a Japanese court against compensation claims by Chinese victims.

Awaiting the first-trial ruling, they gathered in the early morning at the reception office for victims of Japanese germ warfare during World War II in Changde city in Hunan Province.

At noon, a telephone call from Japan revealed the claims for compensation by Chinese victims were rejected.

He Yingzhen, one of the victims in Changde, said, "It's a ridiculous ruling, and we all believe so."

She said, "The Tokyo District Court recognized the basic fact that the invading Japanese military had engaged in germ warfare in China, but it still rejected our compensation plea."

They chanted slogans calling for respect for human rights, justice, and strongly demanded an apology and compensation from the Japanese government for the Chinese victims.

Japanese presiding judge Koji Iwata reportedly said the damage inflicted by germ warfare was terrible and tremendous, and the now-defunct Japanese army could not be spared from the judgment that its act of war was inhumane.

But the responsibility of the state had already been settled under international law, the judge said, arguing individuals did not have the right to demand compensation from a state with which they had been at war.

Unit 731 was set up in northeast China after the Japanese Kwangtung army formed a puppet state in China in 1931.

With its headquarters in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, the 2,000-strong unit operated till the end of World War II as what some historians call a killing factory cultivating fatal bacteria and conducting vivisections.

It is blamed for the deaths of up to 10,000 Chinese and allied prisoners of war and people from China, the Korean Peninsula, Mongolia and the Soviet Union were used as guinea pigs.

Unlike Germany which apologized for its wartime atrocities and offered compensation for victims, Japan has refused to face up to the fact that its wartime atrocities in China were responsible for the deaths of dozens of millions of Chinese civilians and soldiers, not to mention compensation.

(Xinhua News Agency August 28, 2002)

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