A Communist Party publication has said victims of Japan's invasion of China have the legal right to demand compensation from Tokyo.
Beijing had never declared its citizens have given up rights to compensation for war atrocities caused by the Japanese, it said.
The Party History Digest in its latest issue said US intervention, the Taiwan issue and the wish to normalise ties with Japan had caused the government to give up its reparation demands.
China decided in 1972 it would give up claiming US$120 billion (HK$936 billion) in war reparations when the two countries normalised ties. But the party publication said China had never said its war victims had to give up a fight for US$180 billion in compensation claims.
It said due to this reservation, China's war victims had the legitimate right to claim compensation according to international law.
More than 10 lawsuits have been filed in Japan against the government by former comfort women, who were victims of sexual violence, slave labourers and germ-warfare victims at the hands of the Japanese military during World War II or during Japan's invasion of China from 1931 to 1945. Most of the lawsuits have been rejected by Japanese courts.
Chinese policy vacillates between indignation at Japan's perceived lack of contrition for crimes committed and a desire to sweep the issue under the carpet to ensure smoother trade ties.