Chinese and Japanese lawyers have issued a joint declaration urging the Japanese government to take full responsibility for the Chinese people who were harmed by chemical weapons abandoned by invading Japanese troops during World War II.
The All-China Lawyers' Association (ACL), the China Foundation for Human Rights Development and a Japanese delegation of lawyers who have helped Chinese victims of chemical weapons issued the declaration in Harbin, capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, on Tuesday.
The declaration says that currently, relevant government departments of China and Japan are discussing how to destroy all the chemical weapons abandoned by invading Japanese troops as soon as possible. But the Japanese side has moved too slowly in destroying and retrieving the weapons. Hidden risks are threatening and harming the health and lives of innocent Chinese civilians, the declaration says.
It urges the Japanese government to apologize to the Chinese victims and move quickly to collect and to deal with chemical weapons properly.
The declaration also asks the Japanese government to guarantee further treatment and provide everyday necessities for the victims.
Liu Yong, who is in charge of the ACL team claiming compensation from the Japanese government, said that he hoped the declaration would press the government to be more active in its handling of the issue.
"The declaration also expresses our gratitude to Japanese lawyers who offered free assistance to Chinese victims of chemical weapons," Liu said.
After Japan surrendered in 1945, its forces buried and dumped large quantities of chemical weapons in China. The country's official statistics show that more than 2,000 Chinese people have been harmed by such weapons.
Fifty-one Chinese citizens harmed by Japanese chemical weapons have had a medical checkup over the past three days.
According to Chinese and Japanese lawyers who helped arrange the checkups, the condition of these victims was not promising.
Initial check-up results show that their eyesight is deteriorating gradually, they have suffered damage to their skin and their breathing has been affected. Some people's immune system has been weakened and they are more susceptible to disease, said Li Xiaojun, vice president of the No. 2 Hospital of Heilongjiang Province, where the checkups were conducted.
A member of the delegation of Japanese physicians said that currently, many of these victims could be cured, but they should be treated quickly.
(Xinhua News Agency March 23, 2006)