• Kyodo

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Plaintiffs in a 12-year court battle over air pollution from factory smoke in Nagoya have agreed to a settlement totaling 1.52 billion yen, sources close to the case said Friday.

The plaintiffs will convey their intention to accept the compensation package offered by Chubu Electric Power Co. and nine other major industrial firms, the sources said.

About 300 people officially recognized as patients of diseases caused by air pollution and relatives of victims sued the 10 companies and the central government in three groups, seeking a total of 8.2 billion yen in compensation for damage to their health.

The Nagoya District Court ruled in November that there was a causal relationship between residents’ respiratory illnesses and the amount of sulfur dioxide in the air found in southern Nagoya from 1961 to 1978. It ordered the firms to pay 289 million yen to 110 plaintiffs.

The final settlement plan, which covers all the plaintiffs, would pay them each about 6 million yen, compared with the 3 million yen per person stipulated in the district court ruling. The money will include costs for anti-pollution and regional rehabilitation measures, the sources said.

The nine other firms involved in the case are Nippon Steel Corp., Toray Industries Inc., Aichi Steel Corp., Daido Steel Co., Mitsui Chemicals Inc., Toho Gas Co., Toagosei Co., Nichiha Corp. and Chubu Steel Plate Co.

According to the sources, the plaintiffs initially demanded compensation of 2.8 billion yen, while the 10 firms presented a plan to pay 1 billion yen, based on the district court ruling.

Both sides made concessions, with the plaintiffs lowering their compensation demand to 1.7 billion yen and the companies presenting an offer of 1.3 billion yen. After the pollution victims rejected the offer, the firms eventually presented a 1.52 billion yen compensation plan, the sources said.

The settlement would conclude all major pollution cases involving factory smoke in Japan.

In a separate case, the government remains embroiled in a court battle over its failure to control hazardous pollution in areas along national highway Route 23.

The Nagoya court last November ordered the state to pay 18 million yen after determining that some residents living near the national road suffered bronchial asthma resulting from pollution, while the conditions of existing asthma patients worsened after the highway fully opened in 1972.

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