OSAKA (Kyodo) The government refused a proposal by the Osaka High Court on Tuesday to settle damages suits filed by people who developed asbestos-induced illnesses, including cancer, in Osaka Prefecture.

Presiding Judge Jun Miura, who called on the government last month to decide whether to accept the proposed settlement by Tuesday, indicated that procedures to hand down a ruling will now resume.

“We are extremely disappointed because it shows the government turned its back to deep hopes of the plaintiffs,” one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers said. “We will firmly protest it.”

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said that “the ruling of first instance that recognized government responsibility contains legal problems that we can’t overlook in regard to arguments on responsibility and damages.”

The Osaka District Court ordered the government last May to pay a total of ¥435 million in damages to 23 former workers for failing to mandate the installment of ventilators at spinning-mill factories in the Sennan area by 1960. Damages claims by residents were rejected.

A law was enacted that year to ensure measures be taken to protect factory workers against chronic lung diseases caused by particle inhalation.

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