Japan: Too Little, Too Late! 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



Offers made by the Japanese Government to compensate asbestos sufferers have been deemed too little too late by Ban Asbestos Japan (BANJAN) and Japanese victims' lawyers. Sugio Furuya, BANJAN's spokesperson, says:

“We are calling for more equitable and comprehensive solutions which will address all aspects of the country's tragic asbestos legacy. At a press conference in the National Diet on January 23, we told the politicans that our demands have widespread support: 1,461,730 people signed our petition.”

On January 20, the Government tabled proposals to assist victims of asbestos-related diseases and bereaved relatives that include:

  • a certification scheme for asbestos-related diseases;

  • payment of medical care, treatment and funeral expenses for those affected;

  • payment of condolence money and funeral expenses to families whose relatives died from asbestos-related diseases before this scheme was implemented.

The asbestos bill, which is being considered by the Lower House of the Japanese Diet, could cost up to 27 billion yen. While no amounts have been announced for individual compensation awards, it is thought that a monthly payment of around 100,000 yen (US$860/E703/483) plus medical costs is likely. The Government's proposals are “inadequate” say 36 claimants' lawyers who are filing a damages' suit against the Government alleging that its delay in banning asbestos led to the current epidemic of asbestos-related disease.1 Victims of neighbourhood asbestos exposures will be part of the class action which will be lodged in Spring 2006. On January 30, there will be a mass rally of asbestos victims' groups and their supporters to highlight the shortfalls in the legislation.

January 27, 2006


1 See: Japan: Total Asbestos Ban by 2008!



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