Japan Press Weekly
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172 victims of asbestos exposure sue government and 46 companies
A group of 172 victims of asbestos exposure filed a lawsuit on May 16 with the Tokyo District Court demanding 35 million yen in damages from 46 building material manufacturers and the national government.
The plaintiffs are construction workers who are mainly members of the construction workers unions in Tokyo, Saitama, and Chiba prefectures as well as bereaved families.
This is the first lawsuit to be filed against the national government and companies over asbestos exposure at construction sites.
They say that these asbestos exposure victims have suffered cancer or asbestos-related lung diseases while working at construction sites since the 1960s.
They say that asbestos cancer risks had been known in the 1950s in Japan and that the national government should have outlawed the use of asbestos at that point. But the blanket ban on the use of asbestos did not come into force until 2006.
The plaintiffs criticize the national government for failing to fulfill its responsibility to prevent asbestos exposure for many years. They also say the government has failed to warn construction building materials makers against the use of asbestos. gThis means that the national government and companies have promoted the use of asbestos building materials based on their profit-first policy,h they stated.
A similar lawsuit is due to be filed in June with the Yokohama District Court by 41 construction workers and relatives of deceased workers in Kanagawa Prefecture. - Akahata, May 17, 2008
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