Asbestos Protests in Japan 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



On the one year anniversary of the Asbestos Victims' Relief Law, hundreds of Japanese demonstrators expressed their outrage at the inadequacy of government compensation for asbestos-related injuries during street demonstrations and mass rallies in Tokyo on March 25 & 26, 2007. Calling for “fair and equal compensation for all asbestos victims,” the protestors highlighted the cumbersome red-tape, unfairness of screening criteria which bars people with asbestosis from claiming and shoddy treatment of victims whose exposure was non-occupational. Representatives from 7 areas in Japan affected by environmental asbestos contamination participated in these events.

A 74 year old man with asbestos-related lung cancer, who had lived for over 50 years near a former asbestos-using factory in Amagasaki City, told reporters: “I wonder why those, like me, who were exposed to asbestos for a long period cannot qualify for relief measures.” Frustrated that his application to the Environmental Restoration and Conservation Agency (ERCA) has been stalled for a year and with failing health, the Amagasaki resident is poised to give up his quest for official recognition of his condition. Of 1,653 applications received by the ERCA by the end of February 2007, 619 had been rejected. Cumbersome bureaucracy has resulted in more than 20% of successful applicants dying before qualifying for benefits; in such circumstances, no relief measures are given to bereaved families.


April 7, 2007



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