• Kyodo

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About 140 people — former coal miners and relatives of deceased mine workers — filed lawsuits Wednesday against the central government and four coal mining companies, demanding about 1.42 billion yen in damages for lung diseases caused by coal dust, lawyers said.

The four defendant firms listed in the suits filed with the Fukuoka and Kumamoto district courts are Sumitomo Coal Mining Co., Nittetsu Mining Co., Mitsui Matsushima Co. and its subsidiary Matsushima Coal Mining Co.

The amount of the damages sought is based on an April 2004 Supreme Court ruling, which ordered the government and Nittetsu Mining to pay 565 million yen to about 200 plaintiffs. That ruling held the government responsible for not taking measures to prevent the diseases from spreading.

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