Home Page Embassy Information Consular Service China in Brief Travel in China 中文
Home > Embassy Events & Notices
Progress on the Destruction of Chemical Weapons Abandoned by Japan in China

Liu Yiren

Director, Office of Japanese ACWs in China, MFA

15 May, 2006

Mr. Chairman,

It is my great privilege to have this opportunity today to brief the delegates of the Executive Council on China's efforts for assisting Japan in working for the destruction of the chemical weapons abandoned in China by Japan.

Mr. Chairman,

The Japanese ACWs in China constitutes one of the heinous crimes perpetrated by Japanese militarists during the war of Japan's invasion against China. The issue involving the Japanese ACWs has remained one of the major problems left over from history between China and Japan. According to historical records, the invading Japanese forces brought a huge amount of chemical weapons into China back then, and used them in flagrant violation of international laws. Up to date, 1,241 instances of the use of the Japanese chemical weapons in China have been recorded, which indicate the specific dates of the uses, the venues where the uses took place, and the casualties causes by them. These instances were found in 19 Chinese provinces. Such a massive employment by the Japanese invaders of chemical weapons caused untold sufferings to Chinese people. According to statistics gathered back then, the uses of the Japanese ACWs resulted in the death or injuries of some 200,000 Chinese people.

Following Japan's surrender in 1945, the invading Japanese forces buried underground or abandoned in rivers and lakes in China a large number of CWs. Up to now, Japanese ACWs have been discovered at 58 sites in 14 provinces or autonomous regions. Of these sites, the largest number of Japanese ACWs has so far been found in Harbaling, Dunhua City, Jilin Province. On the basis of careful explorations conducted by Chinese and Japanese experts, there is an estimate of close to 400,000 chemical shells abandoned in Harbaling alone. At other sites, different amounts have been discovered, from tens of items to thousands or tens of thousands. There are also a lot of rough leads to the whereabouts of Japanese ACWs that need to be studied and ascertained. The Chinese government has repeatedly requested the Japanese government to provide information and materials on the abandonment back then of Japanese ACWs in China. But thus far, the Japanese side has not responded to the request. As a result, it is impossible to estimate precisely the total number of Japanese ACWs in China.

In order to purge the scourge of the Japanese ACWs in China and protect the lives and properties of the Chinese people as well as the ecology and environment in China, from 1949 to 1997, the year when the Chemical Weapons Convention (hereinafter referred to as the Convention) entered into force, the Chinese government expended a great deal of human, material and financial resources in multiple investigations regarding Japanese ACWs in China, and in the treatment of some 300,000 Japanese chemical shells and about 20 tones of Japanese toxic agents.

Mr. Chairman,

The Convention represents the first international treaty which provides for the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction. The Convention lays out the explicit stipulation that for the purpose of destroying abandoned chemical weapons, the Abandoning State Party shall provide all necessary financial, technical, expert, facility as well as other resources. The Territorial State Party shall provide appropriate cooperation. This stipulation provides an international legal basis for dealing properly with the issue of ACWs.

Following the EIF of the Convention, the Chinese government and the Japanese government entered into negotiations which led to the signing on July 29, 1999 of the Memorandum between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of Japan on the Destruction of the Chemical Weapons Abandoned by Japan on the Territory of China (hereinafter referred to as the Memorandum). Initially in the negotiations, the Chinese side demanded that the Japanese side ship the Japanese ACWs in China back to Japan for destruction. But the Japanese side indicated its reluctance for it, stating that since they had been buried underground or submerged under water for many many years, most of the Japanese ACWs are rusted and deformed, and are even with leakages, making their transportation rather unsafe. Therefore, the Japanese side requested the Chinese side to agree to the destruction to be carried out within China. Given this request and in view of the actual circumstances of the Japanese ACWs in China, the Chinese government agreed to the destruction of the Japanese ACWs within China, in the interests of eliminating as early as possible the threats caused by the Japanese ACWs to the lives and properties of the Chinese people as well as the ecology and environment in China and of an earnest implementation of the Convention and on the condition that the Japanese government abide by relevant Chinese laws and assign the highest priority to ensuring that personnel involved are protected therefrom and the environment is not polluted thereby. As the victim state, in spite of the potential risks arising there from for the lives and properties of the people and for the environment, China made the decision to allow the destruction to be carried out in China. That was no easy decision. From this perspective, the Chinese side has made enormous sacrifices for the sake of assisting the Japanese side in the destruction.

The Chinese government attaches high importance to the issue of the destruction of the Japanese ACWs. Top leaders, such as the President and the Premier have paid personal attention to this matter, and given important instructions on it. In order to ensure the effective, secure and smooth process of the work, the Chinese government set up in 1999 an office charged with dealing with the issue of Japanese ACWs in China in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In addition, the Ministry of National Defence, the National Administration of Environment, and so on, have also set up special bodies for the purpose. The same has also been done at the level of local governments. All this demonstrates the earnest attitude and responsible approach of the Chinese government for implementing the Convention.

Mr. Chairman,

Now, please allow me to speak on the following ten aspects of China's efforts for implementing the Convention and for helping Japan in working for the destruction of Japanese ACWs in China.

A. Offering assistance to the Japanese side in conducting on-site operations

So far, the Chinese and the Japanese sides have conducted over 60 on-site operations for investigation, excavation, recovery, identification and packing, etc. A total of 37, 499 items of Japanese ACWs have been unearthed and recovered, along with nearly 200 tones of chemical agent pollutants. In these operations, entrusted by the Japanese side, the Chinese side took up the following share of the work: advance on-site investigation; operation site arrangements; formulation of programs for evaluation, protection and execution; protection and decontamination during the operations; monitoring and analysis; poison emergence treatment; general medical treatment, prevention and support; meteorological service; visual monitoring and control; communications; emergence rescue; logistic support, etc. The Chinese side has also engaged in offering professional support to the Japanese side in exploration, excavation, identification, safety treatments, sealing and packing, etc.

B. Offering assistance in storing the Japanese ACWs

In order to store securely the recovered Japanese ACWs, the Chinese side has, entrusted by the Japanese side, established 7 trust storehouses for Japanese ACWs, and also rented 10 facilities as temporary storehouses at places where such trust storehouses haven't been established. The Chinese side has employed security personnel to guard the 17 permanent or temporary storehouses around the clock.

C. Offering assistance to the Japanese side in selecting a site for building the destruction facility for Japanese ACWs

Following the signing of the Memorandum in 1999, the Chinese side started its survey on the selection of a site for building the destruction facility for Japanese ACWs. Chinese personnel travelled thousands of kilometres around the country to carry out a nation-wide preliminary survey, and collected plenty of basic information in terms of local society, hydrology, environment and climate for the purpose of comparing site candidates. On this basis, the Chinese and the Japanese sides conducted many rounds of comparison and selection, and finally decided upon one site, among 9 candidates, for building the destruction facility for Japanese ACWs, and it is the area of Sanzhong which is located at a straight distance of about 5 kilometres from the Harbaling burial site of Japanese ACWs.

After the selection of the construction site, with a view to ensuring the smooth conduct of the project, the Chinese government presented lots of explanations to the local government and residents, and they basically gave their understanding.

D. Making basic preparations for the excavation and recovery project and for the project of constructing the destruction facility

With tremendous human and material inputs, the Chinese government has been making basic preparations for the excavation and recovery project and for the project of constructing the destruction facility, which include:

--- conducting extensive basic surveys on an area of about 400 square kilometres targeted for the projects, including gathering their aerial images;

--- conducting basic investigations of areas surrounding Harbaling in terms of population, roads, meteorology, medical and sanitary conditions, traffic and transport, public security situation, water and power supply, environment, etc;

--- conducting a geological survey on the 4 prospective functional areas for the excavation and recovery project;

--- building the infrastructure for the prospective project areas, which includes 3 guarding stations, 25 kilometres of security fences and the Harbaling temporary storehouse;

--- building an 18-kilometre-long exclusive access road for the construction areas;

--- building 2 weather stations and a 102-metre-tall meteorological observation tower. So far, the main frame of the tower, as well as the observation facilities, have been constructed.

E. Undertaking comprehensive technical consultations and cooperation

The Chinese side supplied its own experts for carrying out cooperation with Japanese experts. Bilateral consultations have been conducted on such subjects as destruction technologies, excavation and recovery engineering, construction of the destruction facility, environmental protection, emergency rescue, medical aid, etc. From 2001 till now, more than 100 regular consultations have been had between the two sides, and over 1,000 Chinese experts have taken part.

On the basis of the consultations, the construction site had been decided on, and agreement had been reached between the two sides on the main destruction technologies, the technologies for the subsidiary facilities and the technological program for mobile destruction. So far, the overall technological program for the destruction facility has been approved, and the basic design of the excavation and recovery project completed. In addition, a feasibility study on safe exploration and safety treatments within the excavation and recovery project zone, another feasibility study on the excavation and recovery project itself and a safety pre-evaluation report have all been completed.

F. Formulating and promulgating environmental standards relating to the destruction of Japanese ACWs

The National Administration of Environment engaged experts as well as research institutions in the fields of environmental protection, toxicology, chemistry, defence, etc, to work out environmental standards relating to the disposal of Japanese ACWs. So far, 78 specific standards in this connection have been produced, and 45 toxicological tests concerning 5 toxic agents have been conducted..

G. Assessing the environmental implications of the Japanese-ACWs-related projects

In accordance with the Law on Environment Protection of the People's Republic of China, the Law on Assessment of Environmental Implications, etc, the National Administration of Environment has undertaken assessments of the environmental implications of the Japanese-ACWs-related projects. At present, under the auspices of the National Administration of Environment, 7 specific assessments in this regard have been carried out.

H. Formulating plans for environmental protection and environmental monitoring

In accordance with relevant Chinese laws, the National Administration of Environment asked the Japanese side to draw up plans for environmental protection and environmental monitoring regarding the Japanese-ACWs-related projects and the operation site of excavation and recovery, and to operate in keeping with the plans. The National Administration of Environment dispatched overseers to monitor and supervise the implementation of the environment-related measures in the entire process of relevant operations.

I. Making the site selection for the disposal facility for handling solid wastes

In order to ensure the proper disposal of the solid wastes produced by the destruction of Japanese ACWs, the National Administration of Environment initiated a study on the methodology for disposing solid wastes and on the site selection for their disposal facility. The Administration also carried out site prospecting and the resulting analyses concerning the site candidates within a radius of tens of square kilometres of the prospective location of the destruction facility. A shortlist in preferential order has been produced, thus laying the foundation for the final decisions on the methodology for disposing the solid wastes and on the site selection for their disposal facility.

J. Submitting declarations on Japanese ACWs and receiving OPCW's on-site inspections

The Chinese government submitted to the OPCW in May 1997 the initial declarations on the Japanese ACWs in China. Ever since then, on the basis of the findings of bilateral investigations by China and Japan, the Chinese government has submitted in time subsequent declarations to the OPCW on newly discovered Japanese ACWs. Up to date, the Chinese government has, 13 times, submitted 21 declarations to the OPCW on the Japanese ACWs in China.

China has so far received 16 on-site inspections by the OPCW on the trust storehouses for Japanese ACWs, temporary storehouses and holding points. 9 on-site inspections have also been received on the bilateral operations by China and Japan of on-site excavation and recovery, identification and packing. In addition, China has received many official visits from the OPCW. The Chinese side has always shown a positive and cooperative attitude and provided every necessary assistance and convenience to the inspections and visits, making all of them a success.

Mr. Chairman,

The ten-year destruction period provided for by the Convention is nearing its end now. But regrettably, the substantive destruction of the Japanese ACWs in China has not been started yet. Japan recently proposed to China that the two sides submit a joint request to the Executive Council for a postponement of the destruction. Quite frankly, the Chinese side was reluctant to make such a request. But in the overall interests of the implementation of the Convention and of the early elimination of the threats caused by the Japanese ACWs to the lives and properties of the Chinese people as well as the ecology and environment in China, the Chinese side took a practical approach and agreed to the request by Japan for extending the destruction deadline till 2012. Pursuant the requirements of the Convention, China and Japan submitted on April 29 an official request to the Executive Council for a postponement of the completion of the destruction.

Ever since the signing of the Memorandum in 1999, the Chinese and the Japanese sides have been holding consultations surrounding the issue of the destruction of the Japanese ACWs. However, owing to the excessive concern by the Japanese side for Japanese interests, consensus had been long overdue out of the consultations on the main issues involved in the construction projects, thus having caused delays to the destruction process. Moreover, the Chinese side has in recent years informed the Japanese side repeatedly of the latest discoveries of Japanese ACWs, and asked it to send over teams to conduct investigations, identifications and safety treatments. But on the excuse of personnel and financial constraints, the Japanese side has each year conducted only two to three such missions. As a result, many Japanese ACWs have not been confirmed and securely dealt with. The Chinese government has already implemented the relevant provisions of the Convention and of the Memorandum and made every preparation for assisting the Japanese government to launch the destruction of the Japanese ACWs. The Chinese government urges the Japanese government to honour in earnest the responsibilities and obligations which Japan, pursuant to the stipulations of the Convention, should bear as the Abandoning State. The Chinese government further urges the Japanese government to reinforce and improve its mechanism for dealing with the destruction of the Japanese ACWs in China, increase its human and financial inputs for this task, and, with a positive and responsible attitude, speed up the process of the destruction of the Japanese ACWs in China, in order for them to be completely destroyed as soon as possible. The Chinese government will as always fulfil its obligations under the Convention in earnest and provide full cooperation in assisting Japan to destroy the Japanese ACWs in China.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Suggest To A Friend
  print
Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the Kingdom of the Netherlands All Rights Reserved
Add: Willem Lodewijklaan 10, 2517 JT Den Haag Tel: 0031-70-3065061