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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 October 25 - 31  > Workers suffering from exposure to asbestos win 370 million yen in compensation
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2017 October 25 - 31 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Workers suffering from exposure to asbestos win 370 million yen in compensation

October 28, 2017
The Tokyo High Court on October 27 overturned the district court ruling which exempted the national government and construction-materials makers from liabilities for asbestos-induced health problems, ordering them to pay a total of 370 million yen in compensation to the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit was filed by 89 former construction workers and bereaved families in Kanagawa Prefecture 10 years ago. They claim that the state and 43 building-materials makers are liable for health damages arising from asbestos exposure and should pay 2.8 billion yen in compensation. In May 2012, the Yokohama District Court issued a ruling rejecting the plaintiffs’ claim.

The high court ruling states that the government should have imposed on construction companies a penal obligation to provide construction workers with dust masks when handling asbestos. The ruling also states that the government should have revised its guidelines regarding the prevention of exposure to asbestos. The court ordered the state to compensate 39 former construction workers for damages resulting from asbestos exposure.

As for material makers, the court judged that the makers neglected to carry out their duty to properly provide construction workers with essential information when working with asbestos such as health effects from long-term asbestos exposure and the need to wear respiratory masks. The court ruled that four of the 43 makers must pay compensation to 31 plaintiffs.

After the ruling, leader of the plaintiffs’ group and lung asbestosis patient Hirata Iwao, 76, said, “I’m happy with the high court judgement, but it’s not sufficient. I hope court will relieve all asbestos victims and recognize all makers’ responsibilities.”

Representing the plaintiffs’ counsel, lawyer Nishimura Takao said, “We’ll push the state and construction material makers to take relief measures. We’ll also lobby the Diet for a political solution of the matter.”

Past related article:
> District court rejects asbestos victims’ demand for damages [May 26, 2012]
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