Activists hand petition to Japan

BEIJING: Chinese activists handed a petition containing more than a million signatures to the Japanese Embassy yesterday, demanding compensation for victims poisoned by recently unearthed World War Two-era chemical weapons. 

The signature drive, launched by seven Chinese websites and signed by 1.12 million people within a month, is expected to fuel anti-Japanese sentiment and give Beijing more leverage on the issue when dealing with Tokyo. 

Ten black binders holding about 5,000 pages with the names and home addresses of signatories were handed to a Japanese diplomat under the watchful eyes of Chinese policemen. 

The petitioners also handed over two white protest banners with the signatures of victims. 

“We are indignant and condemn the Japanese government for shifting responsibility and refusing to be held accountable,” Zhou Wenbo, a spokesman for the group, said. 

“We demand the Japanese government compensate victims, apologise, inform us of the number and sites of buried chemical weapons and ship back those which are dug up,” the 24-year-old software engineer said. 

Chinese police have rejected an application by 50 activists to stage a protest march here.  

In Shenyang, sirens will wail to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the start of the Japanese Imperial Army's occupation of northeast China, known then as Manchuria. 

Some activists have called for flags to be flown at half-mast to mourn those killed during Japan's occupation of parts of China from 1931 to 1945. 

Japan faces lawsuits over its abandonment of what it estimates are 700,000 chemical weapons in China. 

Chinese activists estimate the Japanese left behind two million chemical weapons. Activists say such weapons have killed or wounded more than 2,000 Chinese since 1945. – Reuters  

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