2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: loc@icx.net
Date: 6 Jun 2003 21:32:09 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Japan approves aid for poisoning victims
Japan approves aid for poisoning victims as investigators search for
links to wartime weapons=20

By Kozo Mizoguchi, Associated Press=20

TOKYO - The government approved emergency financial aid for residents of
a town who suffered arsenic poisoning after drinking well water believed
to have been contaminated by poison gas produced by the Japanese army
during World War II, an official said Wednesday.

The case has raised concerns that long-forgotten remnants of the
nation's wartime chemical weapons program may still present health

It came to light after residents in the central Japanese town of Kamisu
began complaining of dizziness and numbness of the limbs. Tests on the
town's well water in March showed arsenic levels were 450 times
permissible levels, raising suspicion that poison gas had been stored in
the area during the war.

Environment Minister Shunichi Suzuki said Wednesday there was a "strong
possibility" that old chemical weapons were to blame for the
contamination =E2=80=94 though investigators have yet to establish that
connection - and announced that the government would help cover the
medical expenses of poisoning victims.

Twenty people in the town, including children, have so far shown
arsenic-related symptoms.=20

The emergency aid package authorizes one-time payments of up to 700,000
yen (US$5,800) for the most serious cases, covers victims' medical
expenses, and provides allowances for hospital visits, said ministry
spokeswoman Aya Muto.

Experts say the arsenic in Kamisu appears to be the same type as was
used in a "sneezing" gas once produced by the Japanese army, and the
town was home to a military installation during World War II. But
government officials who began investigating last month have not yet
found "physical evidence" of chemical weapons, Muto said.

A young mother whose 21-month-old son cannot speak or stand said she was
encouraged by authorities' quick response but worried about the future.

"I don't want the government to walk away from this," said Miyuki
Aotsuka, 26.

Authorities have shown less sympathy for people who say they have
suffered from the thousands of chemical weapons left behind by Japanese
military on foreign soil.

Last month a Tokyo court rejected claims by five Chinese nationals for
80 million yen (about US$675,000) for damage caused to their health by
poison gas abandoned in China, ruling that Japan was not responsible
under international law for compensating individuals.

About 700,000 Japanese chemical warheads remain in China, according to
Japan's government, which has agreed to dispose of them by 2007.=20
Susan L. Gawarecki, Ph.D., Executive Director
Oak Ridge Reservation Local Oversight Committee
102 Robertsville Road, Suite B, Oak Ridge, TN 37830
Toll free 888-770-3073 ~ www.local-oversight.org

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