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Japan court refuses to award damages in WWII-era chemical weapons leak case

[JURIST] The Tokyo High Court [official backgrounder] Tuesday ruled against a group of Chinese plaintiffs seeking $682,000 in damages for injuries caused by chemical weapons leaks left by the Imperial Japanese Army [Wikipedia backgrounder] at the end of World War II. The court upheld a 2003 ruling by a Tokyo district court refusing to award damages, but a lawyer for one of the plaintiffs said the court did acknowledge that the weapons were illegally abandoned in China [JURIST news archive]. The court said, however, that it would have been impossible for Japan [JURIST news archive] to remove all of the weapons because they were left on Chinese soil.

In a separate 2003 lawsuit, the Tokyo court awarded $170,400 to Chinese civilians harmed by Japanese chemical weapon leaks. Japan must remove the estimated 762,000 weapons still left in China before the year 2012 under the terms of the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention [text; Japan MOFA backgrounder]. A lawyer for one of the families of a deceased victim said he plans to appeal the high court's ruling to the Supreme Court of Japan [official website]. AP has more.

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