Former workers exposed to asbestos urged to sue Japanese government to claim damages


The labor ministry said Monday it will encourage individual former asbestos plant workers who suffered mesothelioma or other health damage, and relatives of such workers who have died, to file damages lawsuits against the government.

The ministry decided to make the unusual move because such lawsuits need to be settled before the government pays damages to the victims.

There are 2,314 workers exposed to asbestos who are believed eligible to receive damages but who have not yet filed lawsuits against the government, according to the ministry. The ministry plans first to send related leaflets to 756 whose names and addresses are known.

In October 2014, the Supreme Court for the first time found the government responsible for asbestos pollution affecting plant workers in Osaka Prefecture, ruling that it was illegal for the government to neglect to oblige asbestos plant operators to install exhaust air ducts.

Following the ruling, the ministry decided to pay damages, under certain conditions, after settling lawsuits with victims.

As of the end of last month, a total of some ¥2.1 billion had been paid to 236 plaintiffs, while 197 others were in the process of claiming ¥1.5 billion.

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