Like most other industrialized societies, Japan saw extensive use of asbestos in its construction industry, and that has resulted in a high ratio of its citizens being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. A study conducted by the Hamamatsu University School of Medicine had predicted a continuing rise in mesothelioma deaths through 2027 before those numbers eventually begin to decline. In response to greater understanding of the role that construction companies and the government played in workers’ exposure to the carcinogenic material, many of those who have been sickened have pursued justice in the country’s courts. This week the Fukuoka High Court ordered the government as well as four construction materials makers to pay the equivalent of $3.2 million to workers affected by the illnesses, as well as survivors of those who’ve died.
The court decision represents the fifth ruling on asbestos lawsuits in Japan, and is an endpoint to a long road for 54 individuals and families seeking justice after being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. There were a total of 12 companies named in the lawsuit. The court’s ruling is the fourth in which there was acknowledgement that the government and companies were liable for the damages suffered.
In his ruling, Judge Noriyuki Yamanouchi indicated agreement that both the four companies named and the government could predict the risks posed by the use of asbestos as long ago as 1975, and that their failure to put protective measures in place represented negligence and a failure on their part. He also acknowledged that the government was responsible for the illnesses that self-employed contractors were diagnosed with.
Around the world, the dangers of asbestos, the risk of malignant mesothelioma, and the responsibility of those who directed its use are increasingly being understood. Though Japan has only recently come to the point where victims can pursue justice and compensation against those responsible, the U.S. justice system has been allowing those harmed by asbestos to pursue claims for decades. If you or someone you love has been a victim of asbestos, contact us today at 1-800-966-2244 to learn more about your rights and the options available to you.