Petitioners demand Japan apologise for gas leak

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 September, 2003, 12:00am

Activists hope to collect one million signatures by anniversary of invasion

A delegation claiming to represent more than 300,000 people handed a petition to the Japanese embassy in Beijing yesterday, demanding an apology for the victims of a recent mustard gas leak.

They also demanded that Japan adequately compensate the victims, who were poisoned when canisters of mustard gas were accidentally opened on a construction site in Qiqihar city in Heilongjiang province last month.

One man died as a result of the leak and 42 people were injured.

Lu Yunfei, who runs the Patriotic Coalition website, said their petition was now being carried on 4,000 websites around the world.

He said they had collected more than 300,000 signatures and aimed to reach one million before September 18, the 72nd anniversary of the Japanese invasion of China.

Zhou Wenbo, a prominent anti-Japanese activist, said that aside from the apology and the compensation, the Japanese government should offer detailed information on all the chemical weapons abandoned by the Imperial Army on the mainland.

'They should also compensate China for the environmental damage that has been done as a result of the chemical weapons,' he said. 'And all the weapons that were left on the mainland should be shipped back to Japan.'

Mainland authorities claim Japan left more than two million chemical weapons on the mainland in 1945.

The delegation waited outside the Japanese embassy in the rain for more than two hours yesterday before an official came out and accepted their petition.

Earlier this week it was reported Japan might offer the Qiqihar victims 100 million yen (HK$6.6 million) as 'condolence' money. But delegation spokesmen said yesterday that the offer was 'absolutely unacceptable'.