Toxic arsenic remaining in thousands of destroyed Japanese chemical weapons sits in storage at a Chinese armed forces compound in the city of Nanjing, located in eastern China, Kyodo News reported on Thursday.
The poisonous substance — now sealed in plastic packages vulnerable to local flooding — is the end-product of an effort by Japan to eliminate chemical munitions that the nation had abandoned around Nanjing at the end of World War II, according to an insider involved in ties between Beijing and Tokyo. China has seen a number of demands for the material to go to the homeland of its former colonial occupier.
The sides have yet to work out the arsenic’s final destination, which might involve creating a subterranean holding site, Kyodo reported. Accelerating the arms-destruction process is “more important” than dealing with the leftover arsenic, said Tsukasa Hirota, deputy head of the Japanese Abandoned Chemical Weapons Office.
The Tokyo government said it has so far incinerated and treated remains from 35,000 chemical weapons left in Nanjing and 15,000 similar arms from elsewhere. Between 300,000 and 400,000 more of the weapons are thought to still be lodged in the earth of China’s Jilin province, in the district of Haerbaling.