A group of ex-coal miners suffering from black lung disease and relatives of several who have died filed a lawsuit in Ibaraki Prefecture on Wednesday seeking 505 million yen in state compensation.

The suit, asking for 11 million yen per victim, was filed in the Mito District Court by 71 people — 46 coal miners and 35 relatives of nine people who have died from the respiratory disease.

The suit says the government failed to have companies take measures to protect the miners against contracting black lung disease, which is caused by extended inhalation of coal dust. Nine of the miners have died.

Forty of the ex-miners came from the city of Ibaraki, two from Takahagi, Ibaraki Prefecture, and four from Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture. They all became sick after working at the Joban coal mine in Ibaraki and Fukushima prefectures.

In April 2004, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling ordering the government and a coal mining company to compensate people who contracted black lung disease from working in the Chikuho region of Fukuoka Prefecture.

It was the first time the top court had ruled against the government in a black-lung case.

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