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Japan court rejects germ war compensation
Latest Updated by 2005-07-20 10:41:22

A Chinese girl cries as she holds a banner with the words "Unjust Ruling", after a legal judgement, in front of the Tokyo High Court July 19, 2005. A Tokyo court on Tuesday rejected demands from Chinese plaintiffs for compensation and an apology from Japan's government for biological warfare conducted in China before and during World War Two.

A Chinese girl cries as she holds a banner with the words "Unjust Ruling", after a legal judgement, in front of the Tokyo High Court July 19, 2005. A Tokyo court on Tuesday rejected demands from Chinese plaintiffs for compensation and an apology from Japan's government for biological warfare conducted in China before and during World War Two. [Reuters]

68-year-old Wang Jinhua holds a banner after a legal judgement in front of the Tokyo High Court in Tokyo July 19, 2005. A Tokyo court on Tuesday rejected demands from Chinese plaintiffs for compensation and an apology from Japan's government for biological warfare conducted in China before and during World War Two. The banner reads, "Unjust Ruling"/

68-year-old Wang Jinhua holds a banner after a legal judgement in front of the Tokyo High Court in Tokyo July 19, 2005. A Tokyo court on Tuesday rejected demands from Chinese plaintiffs for compensation and an apology from Japan's government for biological warfare conducted in China before and during World War Two. The banner reads, "Unjust Ruling." [Reuters]

Tan Jialin of China holds up a sign with his father's portrait and a demand for an apology and compensation written in Japanese and Chinese during a protest, after a legal judgement, in front of the Tokyo High Court July 19, 2005. A Tokyo court on Tuesday rejected demands from Chinese plaintiffs for compensation and an apology from Japan's government for biological warfare conducted in China before and during World War Two.

Tan Jialin of China holds up a sign with his father's portrait and a demand for an apology and compensation written in Japanese and Chinese during a protest, after a legal judgement, in front of the Tokyo High Court July 19, 2005. A Tokyo court on Tuesday rejected demands from Chinese plaintiffs for compensation and an apology from Japan's government for biological warfare conducted in China before and during World War Two. [Reuters]

The Tokyo High Court on Tuesday dismissed an appeal by a group of 180 Chinese nationals seeking compensation from the Japanese government for injuries and deaths stemming from a germ warfare campaign during Japan's aggression war on China, upholding a lower court ruling.

In handing down the ruling, Presiding Judge Yukio Ota acknowledged the fact that the Imperial Japanese Army waged germ warfare, carried out by Unit 731 in China before and during the war, resulting in the deaths of many Chinese people from pest and cholera.

Referring to an international treaty that banned germ warfare at that time, Ota said, "Japan is held responsible for using germ weapons in violation of a treaty."

The judge, however, rejected the compensation demand saying that there were "no rules that allow individuals to directly demand damages from perpetrating countries."

The lawsuit was filed with the Tokyo District Court in 1997 and 1999 by 180 Chinese people -- victims and relatives of deceased victims of the Imperial Japanese Army's germ warfare -- demanding 10 million yen each and an apology from the government.

In a ruling on Aug. 27, 2002, the district court turned down the demand by the plaintiffs but acknowledged that Japanese aggression army conducted germ warfare in China -- the first court to do so.

At that time, the district court rejected the lawsuit, saying, "No international law that enables individuals to sue for war damages had been established at the time or has been now."

The plaintiffs subsequently appealed to the high court, calling the rejection unfair and unacceptable. They argued that Unit 731 released fleas infected with bubonic plague and food dosed with cholera bacteria in China's Zhejiang and Hunan provinces between 1940 and 1942, killing tens of thousands of people.

They asserted that the actions by the Japanese troops violated international laws on the safety of occupied peoples and the civil codes. They also accused the Japanese government of trying to hide the facts about germ warfare and not taking steps to redress the victims.

The Japanese government rejected the allegations, saying individuals have no right to seek compensation under international law and that it has no responsibility to compensate for acts conducted before the State Redress Law was enacted after the war. 
The plaintiffs and their lawyers strongly protested the ruling and determined to fight against the unfair judgment. "The ruling is brutal for the victims of Japanese army's atrocities in the germ warfare," said Zhang Lizhong, whose family was destroyed by the germ warfare.

"When my grandfather and two younger brothers were killed in the germ warfare, I was only 10 years old. My grandmother and father died from sorrow soon afterwards," Zhang said. The death of so many family members hurt him severely, he said, adding that he will continue to sue Japanese government for just judgment and compensation for the Chinese victims.

Lou Xian, a member of lawyers' group for the plaintiffs, pointed out that Japanese judges have lost their independence while making judgment. "The unfair rulings of Tokyo high court on a series of lawsuits related to Chinese victims from Japan's aggression war indicate the court has gone away from justness and conscience," the Chinese lawyer said.

Tsuchiya Kohken, a Japanese lawyer for the plaintiffs, expressed disappointment on the ruling and criticized collusion between Japanese government and courts, saying they will appeal the lawsuit to Japan's supreme court.

The supporters group for Chinese plaintiffs also held protest demonstration after the ruling, urging the Japanese government to apologize and compensate for the germ warfare victims.    

Editor: Yan

By: Source:China View website
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