New evidence of Japan gas use

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 June, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 June, 1998, 12:00am

New evidence has emerged to contradict Japan's claims that it did not use chemical weapons against Chinese troops during World War II.

It comes from documents declassified by the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo detailing reports from Japanese soldiers who fought in Hubei province in 1942.

The documents record the hearings of a Chinese war tribunal against an officer alleged to have ordered the release of gases causing sneezing and drowsiness.

The Japanese Government has insisted there is no proof its imperial army ever deployed chemical weapons, but acknowledges gases were stored in China. The commander of the 231st regiment of the imperial army's 39th Division, on trial in Hankou during late 1947, denied gas was used.

But the court preferred to believe evidence from witnesses and Japanese soldiers that toxic substances were deployed as Chinese troops gained the upper hand during battle.

'The defendant neglected all humane considerations and resorted to chemical weapons,' a tribunal member said.

The commander was given a life sentence for using the gas.

PLA historians have claimed Japan's use of poison gas killed 10,000 people.