During World War II, Japanese invaders committed numerous atrocities in China. This is history that goes far beyond mere memorization. Chinese victims and their descendants have devoted years of hard work in winning back their lost self-respect and seeking compensation for their physical and mental scars.|
Since Japan occupied northeast China on September 18, 1931 until the end of the war in 1945, Japanese invaders committed monstrous crimes in the 14 years of war. Their atrocities are marked by such events as the Nanjing massacre, 731unit, germ warfare, gas bombs, comfort women, among others. They left Chinese people with painful memories, especially the victims who will remember their suffering forever. However, because of complex historic and political reasons, the innocent civilian victims remained long silent in their suffering until 1995 when the ice was broken.
May 15, 2003, Tokyo Local Court
On May 15, 2003, the Tokyo local court made its ruling on the first-ever lawsuit launched by 5 Chinese victims who suffered from the abandoned gas bombs left by Japanese invaders during World War II. The appeal of the plaintiffs was ignored on the grounds that it would be extremely difficult for Japan to investigate and reclaim the gas bombs abandoned in China.
Zhang Yan, Victim of Gas Bomb, said, "The Japanese invaded China in the past. After the war has been over for over half a century, Japan again hurt the Chinese people with such a verdict."
This is just one lost lawsuit among the many launched by Chinese World War II victims. Since 1995, the number of such lawsuits has totaled more than 20. But the results have always turned out to be repeated injury for these innocent people. The recent verdict in the case of Zhang Yan and four other Chinese victims hit them a hard both mentally and economically. As a result of exposure to the abandoned poisonous gas bomb, their lives changed abruptly and will be bitter untill their death.
Liu Zhenqi, victim of Gas Bomb, said, "I couldn't do any work and I am ill. My hands are swelling and they are useless."
Li Chen, another victim of Gas Bomb, said, "When that liquid dropped on my head, the skin festered. I am better now. There used to be no hair in this part, only a big hole. My hand once became so festered that bones were even exposed. I have had two operations in number 307 hospital in Beijing. I was only in my twenties when I was injured. That should be the time for a young man to work for his country full of vitality. But the actuality was unexpected..."
According to preliminary statistics, there are up to 2 million abandoned WWII vintage gas bombs remaining in the Chinese mainland left behind by Japanese invaders. However, the Japanese government has refused to acknowledge this fact for more than a half a century after World War II.
Su Yongxiang, Lawyer of Chinese victims said, "The Japanese government produced and used chemical weapons for pre-emptive purposes. It was a violation of international law."
As the lawyer for several of the Chinese gas bomb victims, Su Yongxiang, asking no payment at all, began to help them in their lawsuits against Japan.
He also said, "Chinese victims are looking forward to a resolution today, and they will tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. The Japanese government should take it seriously. If the attackers refuse to acknowledge their wrongdoings and to apologize for that, it can't be accepted."
The ruling on May 15th proved beyond everyone's expectations. Su said, “The ruling on May 15th was beyond everyone's expectation. We had thought that we might lose the lawsuit, but we did not expect we would lose it in such a big way. It will be a long fight on the legal battlefield in Japan. It might take all my life to fight."
Zhang Yan, victim of Gas Bomb said, "I believe the lawsuit will continue. Even though we can not win in our generation, the next generation will continue and we will get justice from the Japanese government."
With the passage of more than half a century since the Japanese invasion of China ended, some Chinese victims found a way to win back their self-respect and rights lost during World War II. In March 1995, then Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen pointed out in a news conference that although the Chinese government had given up the national compensation from Japan, the Chinese victims still retained their rights to ask for compensation. It was on June 28 of that year that the Chinese victims launched the first ever lawsuit in Japan over this issue. And it kicked off nearly a decade of efforts by numerous Chinese people.
About eight years ago, Wang Xuan, a Chinese student studying in Japan, began to engage in the investigation and lawsuits related to germ warfare by the Japanese invaders during World War II.
Wang Xuan, supporter of Germ Warfare Lawsuit said, "I met a group of the decedents of the Japanese soldiers by chance. I have worked with them to investigate Japan's warfare. We came back to China several times to carry on our investigations into this history."
During the Japanese invasion of China, there were several Japanese germ warfare forces distributed around the country. Among them, the most infamous were the 731 Unit in North-eastern China and the 1644 Unit in Nanjing, which not only used Chinese people for inhumane experiments on living people, but also dispersed large-scale batches of bacteria like, cholera, anthrax, and other highly infectious and lethal disease causing agents. These caused the death of large numbers of innocent Chinese civilians.
"The population of the village was about 1,200. Over 500 people were infected and 394 died in two months. 461 houses were burnt down," said Wang Jingdi, witness of Bacteria Warfare, Chongshan village, Yiwu city, Zhejiang province.
Wan Shanqing, relative of Bacteria Warfare Victims, said, "The Japanese plane flew very low and they dropped something like smoke. In the following two days, rats began to die, and then villagers followed."
"A total of nine family members, including my parents-in-laws, my uncle and aunt, a brother and a sister. Three died overnight and they all died one day and one night," said Zheng Aihua, relative of victims.
Given the appalling atrocity, the Japanese government adamantlly resufse to admit the fact. To let the undeniable history finally come out in the wash, Wang Xuan spent several years on the lawsuits regarding the use of germ warfare by Japan.
Wang Xuan, supporter of Germ Warfare Lawsuit, said, "I have been to court 27 times. In nearly half the cases, I was the only Chinese in court. I felt deserted. I hope one day Chinese will fill the visitors' seats."
Despite the loss of his lawsuit last August, Wang Xuan pressed on unwaveringly for new evidence in favor of the coming rounds of lawsuits.
Wang also said, "Shiro Ishii I am a descendent of Chongshan village. You have killed so many Chinese civilians with bacterialogical warfare. It is a war crime defying international law. You will be brought to justice by people all over the world."