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Japan court nixes damages for WWII-era chemical weapons leak

[JURIST] The Tokyo High Court [official backgrounder] on Tuesday reversed a 2003 ruling awarding 190 million yen (approximately $1.56 million) in compensation to 13 Chinese plaintiffs injured by World War II-era chemical weapons left in China by the Japanese military. The court's decision came on the grounds that the plaintiffs had not sufficiently established that their injuries would have "inevitably been prevented" had the Japanese government acted more responsibly regarding the chemical weapons. The court has previously denied compensation [JURIST report] on the grounds that it would have been impossible for Japan [JURIST news archive] to remove the estimated 700,000 weapons left on Chinese soil at the end of the war.

Japanese courts have consistently denied Chinese and Korean compensation claims [JURIST reports] for wartime atrocities on the grounds that the 1972 Joint Communique of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People's Republic of China and the 1965 Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea [texts] renounced Chinese and Korean claims for war reparations from Japan. Other compensation suits have also been denied on the grounds that the 20-year statute of limitations for compensation had expired [JURIST report]. Japan remains obligated to remove the chemical weapons still left in China before the year 2012 under the terms of the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention [text; Japan MOFA backgrounder]. AFP has more.

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