One man died and more than 40 people were injured when mustard gas abandoned by the retreating Japanese army at the end of World War 2 was found at a construction site in Qiqihar, Heilongjiang province. The news revived demands in China that Japan compensate victims poisoned by abandoned Japanese chemical weapons. An online petition launched on seven Chinese websites demanding that Japan apologise, clean up any remaining weapons and compensate the victims, attracted more than 1m signatures in September.
Japan has apologised for the incident, but rejected the demand to pay compensation on the grounds that the issue was settled when the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1972. However, at the end of last month a Tokyo court ordered the Japanese government to pay US$1.7m in compensation to 13 Chinese victims of abandoned chemical weapons who filed a suit in 1996.