Japan Supreme Court holds Kubota Corporation liable for asbestos exposure

24 Feb 2015 by under Legal, News

Kubota logo 100x100 Japan Supreme Court holds Kubota Corporation liable for asbestos exposure ’s Supreme Court recently upheld a ruling that declares the Kubota Corporation, a manufacturer of farm equipment, liable for the asbestos-related fatal illness of a man who lived near the plant located in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture. In 2005, Kubota began compensating workers who had contracted illnesses due to asbestos exposure, but this decision is this first time the Japanese Supreme Court has upheld a lower court decision recognizing corporate responsibility for asbestos-related illness in someone living near a factory.

For two decades, Kojiro Yamauchi lived and worked about 200 meters from the Kubota plant. Following his death, his relatives sought damages from the Kubota Corporation and were awarded ¥31.9 million following the Court’s ruling. In 2006, Kubota admitted that more than 100 former employees, more than 10 percent of Kubota’s workers, had died of cancer and other diseases linked to asbestos over the past few decades. The number of people affected continues to rise due to asbestos’ incubation period of 20 to 40 years.

Last October, Japan’s Supreme Court ruled that the government was responsible for failing to protect workers from asbestos exposure in factories in Sennan, Osaka Prefecture. All over Japan, former construction workers are filing lawsuits in connection with asbestos-linked illnesses. Japan’s asbestos problem is referred to as a “ticking time bomb,” even though decades have passed since asbestos was first identified as a carcinogen.

The cancer-causing carcinogen, asbestos, is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral, known for its tensile strength, flexibility, resistance to degradation, and electrical resistance. Asbestos particles remain in the air, and the inhalation of these particles leads to the devastating disease, . In recent years, the use of asbestos and its products has decreased, though they are still found in many residential and commercial settings. Asbestos, despite the well-known safety risks associated with its use, continues to threaten the health of unsuspecting workers and many others. There is no safe level of exposure to the substance, and it causes more 107,000 deaths worldwide each year.

Sources:

Japan Times
World Asbestos Report
The Guardian
OSHA

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