Japan court tells government to pay $13 million to asbestos workers

Featured Japan - December 6th, 2012
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A Japanese court awarded $13 million to over 100 former construction workers in a lawsuit over health problems and deaths caused by exposure to asbestos.

The lawsuit was brought by representatives of 337 people who became sick or died after being exposed to asbestos and accused the government and 42 companies of failing to take adequate safety measures. A widely used material as insulation in the mid-1980s, the government had apparently known about the dangers of exposure, believed to include ill effects on health, such as cancer.

The plaintiffs originally demanded 12 billion yen ($146 million) in damages, but the Tokyo District Court ordered the government to pay a total 1.06 billion yen to selected people after case reviews. The court, however, rejected that private construction firms should also be held responsible, AFP reports.

“The government’s measures against asbestos were insufficient,” presiding judge Masamitsu Shiseki told the court.

Businesses were ordered to require their workers to wear dust-protective masks. “The failure to take such measures is extremely irrational and unlawful,” judge Shiseki said.