Statement of the Chinese Plaintiffs Legal Team
Lawsuit against the Japanese Germ Warfare
August 30, 2002
Head of the Legal Team Attorney Kohken Tsuchiya
General Secretary of the Legal Team Attorney Keiichiro
Attorney Tadanori Onitsuka
Attorney Syoji Nishimura
Attorney Hideyuki Shiino
Attorney Kazuki Kayano
Attorney Hidehiro Marui
Attorney Jun Ogino
On August 30, 2002, Tokyo District Court gave
a judgment over the trial of the germ warfare
conducted by Unit 731. The ruling rejected compensations
and an apology from Japan (defendant), sought
by 180 Chinese plaintiffs who are the victims
of germ warfare.
Germ warfare conducted by the Japanese former
military is one of the most detestable and brutal
war crimes in human history, as the Holocaust
by Nazi Germany is. However, Japan has never admitted
to the brutality of germ warfare although more
than 50 years have passed since Japan was defeated
at World War Two. Nevertheless, Japan has concealed
the evidence of germ warfare thoroughly.
Chinese germ warfare victims have filed a lawsuit
against Japan to pursue its national liability,
to restore their human dignity. This trial was
the first case of judging the Japanese germ warfare
on the judiciary. Japan (defendant) did not admit
to any facts of germ warfare at this trial at
first. However, as the facts of germ warfare are
proved gradually through taking of evidence, the
truth of germ warfare became fully evident. Thus,
the court had no choice but accept the brutality
of Japanese germ warfare.
However, the court rejected compensations and
an apology sought by plaintiffs. We, as the defense
team, are indignated by the unfair judgment given
in the court. We impeach for this misjudgment.
Today, the plaintiff group took the procedures
for an appealing. We, as the defense team, with
the plaintiff group, are determined to fight this
injustice until we win in this case.
As for International law, your interpretation
was that Article 3 of the Hague Convention on
War on Land does not assure individual rights
of claims, in accordance with the theories prevalent
until the 19th century. As for domestic law, you
have applied the principles of Meiji Constitution
that assure the sovereignty of the emperor, stating
that the nation is not responsible for anything,
i.e., it has no legal obligation to compensate
for any damages.
Obviously, the principles used in this trial are
against the ideal of justice and fair. They are
nothing but the out-dated law principles of the
In the first place, Japan planned and ordered
a massacre of civilians, let scientists and doctors
to develop biological weapons and actually conducted
germ warfare in China. As a result, it caused
the epidemic of plague, cholera and other infectious
diseases among Chinese citizens.
The areas in China, damaged by germ warfare are
surprisingly scattered and large. Even though
the damages sought in this trial are from mere
Zhejiang and Hunan provinces, the areas damaged
by germ warfare are much larger with estimated
one or ten million inhabitants. Japanese germ
warfare caused the epidemic of fatal diseases
in those areas. The causalities and the victims
injured by germ warfare could reach one hundred
thousand. The victims' blood relatives who went
through the miserable processes of family disintegrations
caused by germ warfare could reach one million.
Germ warfare ruined villages, families and houses
where people had been living and the plague and
other germs destructed the eco-system of the regions.
Since it is always difficult to ascertain the
places, the times, the types of biological weapons
used in germ warfare, the damages may be much
As stated above, germ warfare brought unspeakable
damages to China and its citizens.
Moreover, Japan has concealed the evidence of
germ warfare and refused to admit to the brutality
even after World War Two. In fact, at Judgments
of the International Military Tribunal for the
Far East, Japan gave information about its germ
warfare secretly to the US in order not to extend
the war liability of germ warfare to central military
personnel and the emperor of Japan. What Japan
did to conceal the facts of germ warfare is not
In other words, injustice of Japan (defender)
regarding its germ warfare is obvious. Nevertheless,
the law principles which cannot address Japanese
national liability of germ warfare is completely
against the ideal of justice and fair. We think
those principles have no existence values.
Germ warfare is nothing but a brutal war crime
that deprives of human dignity. Law principles
that assure and restore human dignity will pave
the way for the abolition of war. Thus, the principles
of war liability should be based on individual
sovereignty of rights. The principles used by
court are completely against the current trend
that war is considered illegal in International
Humanitarian Law and those principles shut up
the way to overcome war.
We, as the defense team, believe that the out-dated
law principles, which court has long persisted
over war compensation matters, should be changed
in these trials of germ warfare.
The Plaintiffs and the defense team put all their
efforts to fight in the first trial. We obtained
the important clues at this trial, which will
help to make the defendant accept the damages
in an apealing.
First, the ruling admitted to the facts of Japanese
germ warfare for the first time in court as following.
1. Unit 731, 1644 and some other units conducted
germ warfare with plague and cholera germ according
to orders of Army Central, in several Chinese
areas from 1940 to 1942.
2. Germ warfare directly caused the epidemic of
plague and cholera in the cities that the plaintiffs
accused of, such as Quzhou, Ningbo, Changde or
3. Germ warfare indirectly caused the epidemic
of plague and cholera in the cities that the plaintiffs
accused of, such as Yiwu, Dongyang, Chongshan
village or Taxiazhou as the epidemic from Quzhou
had reached those cities.
4. There were more than ten thousand germ warfare
casualties in the mere eight cities that the plaintiffs
5. The damages of 180 plaintiffs are accepted
as the damages caused by germ warfare in accordance
with the written and spoken statements made by
plaintiffs in court.
As stated above, the ruling fully admitted the
basic historical facts that the plaintiffs had
The authorization of the facts of germ warfare
by the ruling should be basis for the defendant's
liability, and we believe that this will make
judges to accept the national liability in an
Next, the ruling admitted that the national liability
was authorized in accordance with international
customary law based on Article 3 of the Hague
Convention for War on Land. The authorization
has two stages as following.
First, the judgment was given in accordance with
the prohibition of "the use of biological
weapons in war" in the Geneva Protocol on
Poisonous Gas. At the time of Japanese germ warfare,
the Geneva Protocol had been already enacted.
Thus, the ruling admitted that the germ warfare
should have been against the international customary
law containing the Geneva Protocol.
Second, the judgment is based on the fact that
germ warfare should have been considered in accordance
with Article 23, Section 1 of The Hague Convention
which states that "the use of weapons that
cause excessive harm or unnecessary suffering
is prohibited" as well as the other prohibitions
of the use of certain weapons in international
customary law as in the Geneva Protocol. At the
time of Japanese germ warfare, the ruling admitted
that international customary law in the provisions
of Article 3 of the Hague convention, should have
aroused the national liability.
The authorization of the facts stated above by
the ruling provides the basic structures of international
humanitarian law regarding germ warfare. It is
decisively significant as well.
However, the ruling claimed that the China gave
up its claims for compensation through the events
of the 1972 Japan-China Joint Communique and China-Japan
Treaty of Peace and Friendship. We believe that
this claim by the ruling was made without any
thorough consideration. In fact, at the National
People's Congress in March 1995, Vice Premier
JIANG Chunyun stated, "What China gave up
was not compensations between individuals and
nations, but only between nations. The government
should not interfere with the compensation matters,
since each individual has a right to claim it."
China has continuously stated similar viewpoints
As stated above, what dealt in the Japan-China
Joint Communique was merely about the compensation
claimed by Chinese government. Individual claims
for compensation from Chinese war victims as individual
are not at all limited. With the reference to
the Japan-China Joint Communique, the judgment
failed to give any verifiable interpretations
of it. We, as the defense team believe that we
can defeat such a flawless law principle suggested
by the ruling.
Today, the world faces the great danger of war.
In fact, many wars and conflicts still has existed
in the world, such as the Gulf War in the end
of the 20th century, Kosovo War, or the latest
Afghanistan War starting from October 2001.The
danger of war by the US on Iraq, further on Iran
or North Korea has aroused as well. It seems like
imperial aggressions came back onto our history
The Koizumi cabinet has implemented Anti-Terrorism
Special Measures Law in October 2001 and sent
the Maritime Self-Defense Force to the Indian
Ocean to join the War on Afghanistan. The Koizumi
cabinet also plans to implement the national emergency
legislation law this year in order to mobilize
citizens for the upcoming War on Iraq.
Germ warfare conducted by the former Japanese
military is one of the most anti-humanitarian
war crimes. Japanese government has long avoided
the liability of this war crime over 50 years.
The judgment gave a question to the political
attitudes of Japanese government, which always
tried to avoid any liability on germ warfare.
Since the judgment further leads to acceptance
of aggression wars, we must not accept it. We,
as the peace-loving citizens, are the ones who
do not ignore the evil rolls that will be played
as a result of this judgment and counterattack
in the next trial.
The more people know about the facts of germ warfare,
the more advantages we will have in an appealing.
The day after the judgment, the front page of
each newspaper reported that the ruling had finally
admitted to the facts of germ warfare. It is estimated
that the majority of Japanese people came to know
for the fist time about the Japanese germ warfare
during World War Two with these reports. Still,
few Japanese people recognize this brutality.
When the number of Japanese citizens who know
the facts about germ warfare grows drastically
and public opinions in favor of us surround court
and move conscience of judges, we believe that
the right judgment will be given to compensate
damages and offer a formal apology from Japanese
government for the germ warfare victims.
We, as the defense team, with the plaintiff and
support groups, are determined to fight in court
until we win a trial.
1-21-5 Nishishinbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 105-0003,
TEL: 81-3-3501-5558 FAX: 81-3-3501-5565 Email: