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Wednesday, September 22, 1999 Published at 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Japan rules out war compensation

Japan says international treaties cover claims for compensation

By Juliet Hindell in Tokyo

A Tokyo court has ruled that the Japanese Government is not responsible for paying compensation for wartime atrocities to a group of Chinese people.

The 10 people were seeking apology and compensation of $190,000 each for the atrocities they or their relatives suffered at the hands of the Japanese military before and during World War II.

Some were victims of the Nanking massacre in 1937. Others were related to people who died in the Japanese Imperial Army's biological experiments on prisoners at the infamous unit, 731. There were also victims of the fire bombing of Yong'an.

Court acknowledges suffering

Although the Tokyo district court acknowledged that they had undergone severe suffering, the judge said such claims had already been dealt with.

In regard to all such cases, the Japanese Government maintains that all reparations have been settled under international treaties.

But that hasn't stopped thousands of former prisoners of war and other survivors of the Japanese wartime regime from pursuing compensation in the courts.

Numbers disputed

Many in Japan say that China's estimates that 300,000 people were killed in the rape of Nanking are exaggerated.

The government has said that Unit 731 did conduct human experiments during the war, but none of the doctors were prosecuted in exchange for the results of their experiments.

The bombings of Yong'an killed more than 10,000 people, but few in Japan have heard of these incidents.

There are dozens of other wartime compensation claims facing the Japanese courts, but this latest ruling is likely to mean that most of them will be unsuccessful.

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