A Japanese court has rejected claims for compensation brought by 180 Chinese people who claim they were victims of Japan's biological warfare unit in China in the 1940s.
The group had sued the Japanese Government, demanding an apology for its use of germ warfare against Chinese citizens and ten million yen ($84,000) each in compensation.
But the three judges did acknowledge the facts of the case, the first time a Japanese court has admitted Japan conducted biological warfare during World War II.
The court ruled that under international law, individuals had no right to seek compensation from a state.
Evidence was given at the trial that 3,000 people were killed by plague and cholera cultivated by Japanese military scientists during World War II.
For five years, the Tokyo district court heard harrowing testimony about Japan's Unit 731, which developed biological weapons for use against Chinese civilians and carried out experiments and vivisections on them.
Witnesses told how Japanese aircraft sprayed a mixture of fleas and wheat grain over villagers in eastern China in 1940 and 1941.
Shortly afterwards there were outbreaks of bubonic plague in which hundreds died.
A former member of Unit 731 told how he had worked to cultivate plague, cholera and anthrax.
He said he had helped infect Chinese prisoners with the germs and had assisted surgeons who then cut them up alive.
The plaintiffs wanted the Japanese Government to acknowledge the existence of the unit and to give details of its activities.
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