A facility to destroy chemical weapons abandoned by the Imperial Japanese Army will likely start operations in China's Jilin Province by the end of this year as part of a Japanese government project, according to sources.
The facility is now under construction in Haerba-ling, where 300,000 to 400,000 chemical shells are believed to be buried. By starting neutralization operations here, where the largest number of chemical weapons are buried in China, the Japanese government hopes to complete the destruction of chemical weapons in various parts of the nation by the end of 2022, as agreed by the Japanese and Chinese governments.
In 1991, the government started an on-site survey of buried chemical weapons, a year after Beijing asked Tokyo to destroy them. The Chemical Weapons Convention, which took effect in 1997, requires the countries that abandoned chemical weapons to destroy them, so Japan is shouldering all the expenses for processing the weapons.
According to the Cabinet Office, about 50,000 shells have been recovered from about 50 locations in China. About 37,000 shells have been destroyed by mobile destruction facilities.
Work to construct the facility in Haerba-ling did not progress as scheduled due to delays in shipping construction materials to the site. Operations there were originally scheduled to start in 2012. Therefore, shells containing vomiting agents and other chemical agents are still stored at the site.
Inspectors are now conducting final checks of two fixed destruction devices at the Haerba-ling facility before starting operations within the year.
"Haerba-ling is the symbol of chemical weapons abandoned in China," a Japanese government source said. "I hope progress in destroying the weapons will provide an opportunity for our two nations to improve their relationship."