The Kyoto District Court last month ordered the national government and manufacturers of building materials to pay a total of ¥216 million to construction workers and a bereaved relative in compensation for illnesses suffered through exposure to asbestos at construction sites decades ago. In four of five similar lawsuits, including the latest case, the judiciary has determined that the government was responsible for asbestos-linked illnesses among construction workers and ordered it to pay damages. The government should take the rulings seriously and work out a scheme to provide relief to construction workers who suffered health damage from asbestos.

Prior to the Kyoto ruling, district courts in Tokyo, Fukuoka and Osaka held the national government liable for the health damage suffered by construction workers but exempted building materials makers of responsibility, while the Yokohama District Court cleared both the government and the makers of liability. The Sapporo District Court is to hand down its decision on another case in the near future.

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