FUKUOKA (Kyodo) A Fukuoka mining company and an affiliate agreed Monday to pay a combined 3.01 billion yen to 264 plaintiffs — anthracosis sufferers and relatives of workers at the firms’ colliery who died of black lung disease.
The agreement by Mitsui Matsushima Co. and affiliate Matsushima Coal Mining Co., both based in the city of Fukuoka, settled lawsuits involving the Mitsui Matsushima group as a defendant — two suits filed with the Fukuoka District Court and one at the Fukuoka High Court.
In the Fukuoka High Court case, the two companies, in a district court ruling last December, were ordered to pay 940 million yen in damages to the next of kin of six workers and 56 surviving black-lung disease victims.
With the latest out-of-court settlements, the plaintiffs will be awarded multimillion yen damages ranging up to 25 million yen each.
In the city of Nagasaki, where many of the 264 plaintiffs live, officials representing both sides signed a joint declaration to mark the end of their dispute.
In the declaration, the companies pledged to do their utmost to prevent further labor-related illnesses.
“We take seriously the fact that workers contracted black-lung disease at a coal mine we operated,” the two firms said in a statement.
The deceased and survivors worked at Matsushima Coal Mining’s Ikeshima colliery and affiliated coal mines on Ikeshima Island in Nagasaki Prefecture between around 1950 and 2001.
The Ikeshima colliery, an undersea coal mine that began operations in 1959, was shut down in November 2001. Output there reached some 1.5 million tons annually during peak years.