• Kyodo

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The Otsu District Court on Monday ordered the national government, the Shiga Prefectural Government and the former president of a failed shoulder-pad manufacturer to pay a total of 260 million yen in connection with the abuse of mentally disabled workers at the firm.

Eighteen people — 16 former workers and the parents of an employee who died on the job — brought the damages suit demanding a total of 530 million yen from the national and prefectural governments and Shigetaro Wada, 56, the former president of Sun Group, which was located in Gokasho, Shiga Prefecture.

Wada pocketed some 81 million yen in pensions and other benefits for the former workers between 1987 and 1996. He also forced them to work on their days off, did not pay them overtime and physically abused them on a daily basis.

The national and prefectural governments were named in the suit because the plaintiffs maintained that the local labor standards inspection office, the employment security office and a welfare center were aware of the situation but did nothing to stop it.

Wada denied the allegations, except for embezzling the workers’ pension money.

The two governments claimed they bore no legal responsibility to instruct the company.

Wada has already completed an 18-month prison term for embezzlement.

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