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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 December 25 - 2014 January 7  > High court orders state to compensate asbestos-damaged workers
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2013 December 25 - 2014 January 7 [WELFARE]

High court orders state to compensate asbestos-damaged workers

December 26, 2013
The Osaka High Court on December 25 ordered the state to pay damages to people suffering from asbestos-induced health problems.

This is the first time for a high court in the country to hold the government responsible for asbestos-related health damage. The court ordered the state to pay a total of about 350 million yen in compensation to 31 out of 33 plaintiffs.

In the Sennan region, south of Osaka, asbestos factories were clustered close together. They had provided their products to the war industry in the prewar and wartime period as well as to the auto industry since the war end. Those makers, most of which were tiny, small and medium enterprises, closed down their factories in the 1990s.

Former workers at asbestos textile factories in the region and their family members filed a lawsuit against the government, arguing that it failed to properly regulate the use of asbestos and thus caused workers to develop mesothelioma and lung cancer. The Osaka District Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in March 2012.

Upholding the lower court decision, the high court acknowledged a causal relationship between being exposed to asbestos and the onset of diseases. It stated that it is illegal for state authorities to have long neglected to require manufacturers to take preventive measures against exposure to particulates of asbestos.

After the court ruling, plaintiffs, their lawyers and supporters held a victory rally in Osaka City. The participants unanimously adopted a resolution calling on the government to place top priority on the relief of victims and make serious efforts to settle the dispute as quickly as possible.

Kawasaki Taketsugu, one of the complainants, said in tears, “I was really encouraged to see a lot of signature sheets piled up in the court building. I hope that the state will immediately sit at the negotiating table to produce an early resolution.”

Past related article:
> Court orders state to compensate for asbestos-induced health claims [March 29, 2012]
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