The Tokyo District Court has ordered the state to award some ¥1.06 billion in compensation to 158 workers who suffered lung diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos dust. This is a significant ruling in that it decided that the state’s inadequate regulations were responsible for the workers’ sufferings. Yet, it is insufficient because the ruling did not award compensation to about half of the plaintiffs.

The Nov. 5 ruling demonstrates that lawsuits are not an effective mechanism to provide sufficient relief to workers who have developed lung diseases through their exposure to asbestos dust. The government, makers of construction materials and construction contractors should heed the court’s opinion expressed in its ruling and jointly set up a fund to provide relief to such workers.

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