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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 August 1 - 14  > Court orders Kubota to compensate for asbestos damage
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2012 August 1 - 14 [WELFARE]

Court orders Kubota to compensate for asbestos damage

August 8&9, 2012
A Japanese court on August 7 ruled for the first time that a company is responsible for causing asbestos-related health problems to people who live near its factory.

Plaintiffs are 2 bereaved families in Hyogo’s Amagasaki City, who live near a factory of major machinery maker Kubota. Yamauchi Yasutami’s father and Yasui Yasuo’s wife had died of a type of cancer called mesothelioma. Their families filed a lawsuit with the Kobe District Court against the national government and Kubota for compensation, claiming that they failed to take measures to prevent ill health effects from asbestos used at the maker’s factory.

The district court acknowledged the company’s responsibility for Yamauchi’s father’s death based on the Air Pollution Control Act and ordered it to pay his family 31.95 million yen in damages.

The judgment stated that the company had strewn asbestos for at least 20 years outside its plant and exposed nearby residents to the danger of developing diseases such as mesothelioma.

Yamauchi’s father had worked for a long time at a factory located some 50 meters to the south of the Kubota facility.

Following the decision, plaintiff Yamauchi said, “Kubota proposed granting aid at first. However, it would not admit its responsibility as an offender and refused to apologize to us. I am content with this judgment acknowledging the maker’s fault. I think it will become the first step to help many not as yet diagnosed patients suffering from diseases caused by asbestos.”

On the other hand, the court rejected Yasui’s claim, stating that the government is not responsible for having failed to prevent the damage.

Plaintiff Yasui said, “I can’t understand why the court decided on a decision against us. I am filled with deep resentment at the ruling. I will work harder to win the case in a high court.”

* * *

On the next day, 50 people, including plaintiffs’ supporters, rallied in front of the Kubota head office in Osaka City. They demanded that the company should sincerely accept the court decision and negotiate with the plaintiffs to settle the claims as early as possible.
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