National / Crime & Legal

Osaka High Court orders government, 10 firms to pay ¥302 million in damages over asbestos exposure

JIJI

The Osaka High Court has ordered the government and 10 construction material makers to pay some ¥302 million in damages to 27 former construction workers and their kin over cancer and other health problems caused by asbestos.

The court on Friday recognized the responsibility of the state and the 10 companies, including Nichias Corp., for health problems suffered by workers who were exposed to the toxic fire-resistant substance at construction sites.

The amount of damages was increased from a January 2016 ruling by the Kyoto District Court that ordered the government and nine firms to pay ¥216 million.

At the high court, the 27 plaintiffs demanded ¥960 million in damages from the government and 14 materials makers.

According to the health ministry, this is the third high court ruling among a total of 15 lawsuits pending at district and high courts, and also at the Supreme Court, over asbestos damage suffered by construction workers.

As for the government’s responsibility for health problems suffered by self-employed contractors, a focal point in the lawsuit, the high court’s presiding judge, Naoyuki Tagawa, said: “If the state’s measures to regulate asbestos are substantially unreasonable, they should inevitably be considered to be illegal.”

In the meantime, the high court upheld the lower court’s assertion that the government neglected to make the use of dust-proof masks mandatory in and after 1972 for asbestos-spraying workers, in and after 1974 for workers at indoor construction sites, and in and after 2002 for workers at outdoor sites.