Former JAL flight attendant achieves recognition of her disease as work-related

A former flight attendant's 19-year struggle has compelled Japan Airlines (JAL), the nation's largest airline company, into recognizing her chronic back pain as work-related.

JAL has decided not to appeal the case to the Supreme Court after the Tokyo High Court rule on September 25 that Tsukamoto Yoko's lumbago and shoulder-arm-neck syndrome were work-related.

Tsukamoto became a JCP flight attendant in 1974 and soon experienced a back pain apparently as a result of an excessive work load and irregular work schedules.

In 1982, she requested for an application of the Workmen's Accident Compensation Insurance Law at the Ota Labor Standards Inspection Office, Tokyo, but her application was turned down.
She requested the office to reexamine her case. After 14 years, the office concluded that her disease was not job-related.

Tsukamoto knew that one out of three flight attendants suffered from back pains due to heavy work loads and that many had to quit. She filed a suit with the Tokyo District Court in March 1997.

In September 2000, the district court rejected her claim. She then appealed to the Tokyo High Court, which upheld her claim.

Tsukamoto said, "In the last ten years, some 2,000 flight attendants of JAL have suffered from lumbago. I hope that this court decision will help to relieve many workers suffering from occupational diseases and ensure improvement of flight attendants' working conditions and aviation safety." (end)