Japan is urged to correct attitude and eliminate legacy of chemical weapons asap

China Military Online
Li Jiayao
2022-09-19 17:50:49

By Zhong Sheng

The Japanese side should have been soberly aware that it will not work if its words do not match with its actions on the issue of chemical weapons abandoned by Japanese in China during the Second World War (hereinafter referred to as "abandoned chemical weapons", ACWs) and tries to slip away unpunished. As long as those weapons have not been completely destroyed, the Chinese people will not give up holding it accountable, and the pressure from the international community on the Japanese side will also increase day by day.

Recently, a delegation of more than 40 personnel, including Fernando Arias, Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and permanent diplomatic envoys or representatives of many countries to the OPCW, paid a virtual visit to China. During the visit, all parties listened to the briefing on the overall situation and the progress of destruction of ACWs, and took a virtue visit to Haerbaling, in Dunhua City, Northeast China's Jilin Province, the largest burial site of Japan's ACWs known so far in China. The delegation unanimously agreed that the Japanese side should attach great importance to the issue, completing the destruction as soon as possible, eliminating the harm to China, and making practical efforts to build a "chemical weapons-free world".

The Japanese invaders used quantities of chemical weapons in the war of aggression against China. Before its declaration of defeat, the Japanese side buried or dumped a large number of chemical weapons in rivers and lakes in order to cover up its crimes. As of today, the Japanese ACWs have been discovered in more than 120 locations in 18 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities in China once ravaged by the Japanese Aggression. There are as many as 330,000 chemical weapons found in Haerbaling alone. It is really astounding to have so many places with such a large number. Japanese ACWs are but one of the Japanese atrocities committed against China, which has long endangered the lives, health and ecological security of the people in relevant areas of China.

China will eliminate Japanese ACWs in China and the legacy of the Japanese war of aggression against China in a thorough manner. This is a solemn commitment of the Chinese government to the Chinese people, and also an integral part of safeguarding the victory of the world’s anti-fascist war. Since the 1990s, China and Japan have negotiated the destruction of AWCs. In 1997, the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), came into force. With the great efforts of China and the strong support from the international community, the CWC has clearly stipulated that for the purpose of destroying abandoned chemical weapons, the Abandoning State Party shall provide all necessary financial, technical, expert, facility as well as other resources. Under strong political, legal and public pressure, the Japanese side had to bow its head and admit its mistake. China and Japan signed a memorandum in 1999 on the destruction of chemical weapons abandoned by Japan in China, indicating the disposal of Japanese ACWs has entered a substantive stage.

However, the disposal process has been stumbling all the way. According to the provisions of the CWC, Japan should have completed the destruction by 2007. However, the Japanese side has not paid enough attention as shown by insufficient investment and weak will, and the destruction progress has seriously lagged behind. So far, only more than 60,000 pieces have been destroyed, and more than 90,000 pieces have been excavated and recovered. The results are not acceptable to the Chinese people or to the international community. Japan has not provided China with complete and accurate burial clues, with the total number and specific burial locations of the Japanese ACWs yet to be discovered. These ACWs have been underground for decades, causing a large amount of contaminated soil inurgent need of dealing with, while the Japanese side has shied away in every possible way, unwilling to take responsibility.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between China and Japan. It is an important opportunity for the two sides to sum up history and create a future together. The issue of Japanese ACWs left behind serves as a ground to test whether Japan can face up to history, and also a touchstone to test whether Japan can truly contribute to regional peace, stability and development. The Japanese side should have been soberly aware that it will not work to try to say one thing and do another thing on the issue of Japanese ACWs left behind in China and try to slip away unpunished. As long as the Japanese chemical weapons could not be completely destroyed, the Chinese people will not give up holding it accountable, and the pressure from the international community on the Japanese side will also increase day by day.

The CWC has been in force for 25 years. To solve the issue of Japanese ACWs and realize the vision of a "chemical weapons-free world" earlier have been a common voice of the international community. The Japanese side is thus supposed to earnestly increase its investment to eliminate the legacy of ACWs as soon as possible thoroughly to return to the Chinese people pure land, demonstrating the political will to fulfill its international obligations and the political courage to atone for its historical guilt.

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