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The non-governmental Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) says approximately 700,000 Japanese chemical weapons munitions were abandoned on Chinese territory after World War II.
As part of joining the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), Japan is responsible for the destruction of these weapons.
Japan started the disposal project in accordance with a bilateral accord with China in July 1999 whereby it would provide money, technology and facilities to dispose of the weapons.
China has accused Tokyo of failing to show the necessary remorse for wartime atrocities. China’s State Council in September released a list of 80 state facilities and sites commemorating the war with Japan ahead of a 69th anniversary of the country’s victory over Japan.
The conflict, commonly known in China as the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, led to the death of some 20 million Chinese, according to Beijing’s estimates. It ended with Tokyo’s World War II defeat in 1945.
Chinese President Xi Jinping had earlier in July this year condemned those who “ignore the iron facts of history” in a jab at Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Abe’s visit in December to the controversial Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo that memorialises Japan’s war dead, along with convicted World War II criminals angered both China and South Korea.
After long delays, China and Japan began to work on the destruction of the abandoned chemical weapons (ACW) in 2010.
Tokyo and Beijing agreed to an extension until 2016 for Japanese ACWs already excavated and recovered (not including those buried or stored in Haerbaling). The two sides also agreed on the completion within 2022 of destruction of Japanese ACWs in Haerbaling, the biggest burial site of these weapons in north-east China, where 300,000 to 400,000 arms remain buried.
Japan, a non-nuclear weapons country, has been criticized by China for stockpiling enriched uranium and weapons-grade plutonium that could be used in bombs.
Japan has also recently announced a reinterpretation of its pacifist constitution, by ending a ban that has kept the Japanese military from fighting abroad.