At the Foreign Ministry's regular press conference yesterday, spokesperson Liu Jianchao urged Japan to expedite the process of clearing chemical weapons left behind by Japanese forces at the end of World War II.
Japanese government officials confirmed on Monday that the poison gas accident in Guangzhou in south China’s Guangdong Province last week was caused by chemical weapons left behind by Japanese forces at the end of World War II.
But Japanese media also quoted a Japanese Foreign Ministry official as blaming China for being slow to respond to Japanese efforts to speed up the disposal process.
"We've noticed relevant reports. China has lodged representations to the Japanese side and asked for clarification," Liu said.
He said the Chinese government always attaches great importance to the issue and has worked vigorously to accelerate the process.
"It is the Japanese side that should take more measures to push forward the process of destroying the chemical weapons," Liu added.
After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, abandoned chemical weapons were found in central, east and north China, especially in the northeast.
"Abandoning chemical weapons in China constituted a serious crime committed by the Japanese army during its aggression against China," Liu said, and the weapons still pose real threats to the lives and property of the Chinese people and the environmental security in neighboring areas.
Liu urged the Japanese government to strictly follow the terms of the Convention on the Banning of Chemical Weapons and the memorandum on the destruction of chemical weapons reached between the two governments in 1993.
Commenting on Japanese Emperor Akihito's visit to a Korean war memorial in Saipan on Tuesday, Liu said "We take note of related reports. The arrangement made by the Japanese side is presumed to be based on its correct understanding about history."
Emperor Akihito left for Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands on Monday to pay homage to those killed there in a bloody battle during World War II. It is reported that the emperor also made a surprise visit on Tuesday to a Korean war dead memorial.
About 1,000 Koreans were killed on Saipan Island and other neighboring islands during World War II.
Saipan, considered vital to Japan's homeland defense during World War II, witnessed fierce fighting from June 15 to July 9, 1944. More than 40,000 Japanese soldiers and 10,000 Japanese civilians on the island were killed, while about 5,000 US soldiers were killed in battle.
(Xinhua News Agency June 29, 2005)