YOKOSUKA, Kanagawa Pref. – Twenty-two Japanese who previously worked at the U.S. Navy base here filed a suit Thursday seeking damages for contracting pneumoconiosis. The suit follows another brought by 17 others and was filed at the Yokosuka branch of the Yokohama District Court.
The plaintiffs are demanding that the Japanese government, which employed them at the base, pay 489.5 million yen for failing to take sufficient measures to prevent the disease, which they contracted by breathing asbestos dust.
The court plans to hand down a ruling July 8 on the earlier suit, in which the plaintiffs are seeking 313.5 million yen. Three of the former employees have died and are being represented by relatives.
The plaintiffs in the new suit are men between the ages of 64 and 85 who had worked up to 38 years as machinists and were mainly engaged in repairing ships; asbestos was used as fireproofing material, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs claim almost no preventive measures had been taken to control asbestos dust until around 1980.
Pneumoconiosis is caused by long-term inhalation of dust and other irritants and particulates.
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