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High Court Agrees Japan Not Liable for Chem Leak in China

The Tokyo High Court on Friday upheld a lower court's denial of a legal complaint filed by a group of Chinese citizens seeking Japanese restitution for injuries sustained in a 2003 chemical weapons leak, Kyodo News reported.

In August 2003, one man was killed and 43 others sickened at a building site in Heilongjiang Province when they encountered poisonous gas seeping from a degrading WWII-era Japanese military container, abandoned by retreating Imperial Japanese Army troops. After the incident, the Japanese government authorized more than $3.8 million for China, most of which was handed over to survivors.

However, the survivors sued Japan in 2007, arguing the money did not go far enough in covering the long-term health care they required to treat such issues as breathing difficulties, failing eyesight and lingering skin blisters.

The plaintiffs now intend to take their suit for $18.3 million to the Japanese Supreme Court.

Japan maintains it is not liable in the matter as it had no knowledge there were leftover chemical warfare agents at the construction site.

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