Hideo Hiraoka, vice minister of Japan’s cabinet office, announced the beginning of the disposal of thousands of left-over weapons at a ceremony in east China’s Nanjing city, Xinhua news agency said.
“Today’s move marks a new phase in the disposal of abandoned chemical weapons in China, in which the work has shifted from excavation and recovery to destruction,” the report quoted Hiraoka as saying.
“This is the result of years of efforts made by Japanese and Chinese authorities, and will have far-reaching effects on the bilateral relationship.”
Japan is responsible for the destruction of the weapons, as a signatory to the UN Chemical Weapons Convention, the report said.
Tokyo and Beijing have agreed that up to 400,000 chemical weapons, left in China as Japan surrendered and withdrew, remain in the country although the figure has long been the subject of debate.
Most of the weapons were located in northeast China, but caches of chemical bombs have been found in numerous places occupied by Japanese armies, Japanese diplomats in Beijing said.
Beijing has been pressing Japan to work faster on the issue. Over 2,000 Chinese citizens have been injured or killed by leftover Japanese chemical munitions since the end of the war, Xinhua said earlier.
Such mishaps invariably lead to a resurgence of anti-Japanese sentiment in China, where lingering anger over Japan’s wartime past routinely sours relations.
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