Big Win for Japanese Shipyard Workers  

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



On October 30, 2006, the Yokohama District Court set a new precedent when it issued Japan's first plaintiff's ruling in a case of occupational lung disease at a Japanese shipyard. The Court ordered Sumitomo Heavy Industries Ltd. to pay a total of 210 million yen (US$1.8 million) as compensation for hazardous exposures which led employees to contract the lung disease asbestosis.1

The sixteen claims, brought by nine former employees, now aged between 70 and 86, and seven grieving families, related to occupational exposure to asbestos experienced at Sumitomo's shipyards in Uraga and Oppama in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture between 1939 and 1996. Judge Teruo Takayanagi found that as no protective masks or warnings had been issued to the workers of the asbestos hazard, the company had “failed to meet all responsibilities” and ordered that compensation amounting to 15.4-27.5 million yen (US$131,000-234,000) be paid to each claimant.

October 30, 2006


1 Shipbuilder Ordered to Compensate Ex-Workers with Lung Disease. See:



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