Wife calls for recognition of husband's death as of being work-related asbestosis

The wife of an Asahi Glass Company worker who died of lung cancer in 1992 has demanded that her husband's death be recognized as work-related because asbestos that was used everywhere in his workplace was the cause of his disease.

Watanabe Nobuyoshi worked in the Asahi Glass Funabashi Factory in Chiba Prefecture for 34 years. Asbestos dust was floating around him all day and the factory management knew how dangerous it was. But the compnay took no steps to protect workers' health or even let workers know about its danger.

Watanabe had a strong body, but died just two weeks after he was hospitalized.

A large quantity of asbestos absorbed in a lung could cause cancer and lung asbestosis. Watanabe's wife Akiko suspected that her husband's death was caused by the terrible working condition.

Akiko applied for compensation under the Workers' Accident Compensation Insurance. The Funabashi Labor Standards Inspection Office turned down her application because a doctor assigned by the Office stated that Watanabe's lung cancer had no relation to asbestos.

Akiko then filed a lawsuit in the Chiba District Court, calling for compensation from the company on the grounds that it failed to take the necessary steps to protect workers' health while knowing about the danger of asbestos.

By 2000, more than 2,000 workers have died of lung cancer and other diseases after inhaling asbestos-contained air. Only two percent have been covered by the Workers' Accident Compensation Insurance.

Asahi Glass and other compnaies' workers established a group to support Akiko's lawsuit. One member said, "Asahi Glass has used asbestos for a long time and its victims are increasing. If Watanabe's death is recognized as work-related, it will have a strong impact." (end)