Japan Considering Plans to Ban Asbestos
Sakaguchi Chikara, Japan’s Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, announced on June 28, 2002 that his Government is considering plans to implement a unilateral ban on chrysotile (white asbestos); crocidolite (blue asbestos) and amosite (brown asbestos) having been banned in 1995. As Japan is one of the world’s biggest consumers of asbestos, this announcement will come as a blow to international asbestos producers. In 1999, Japan imported more than 100,000 metric tons of asbestos from countries which included Canada, Zimbabwe, South Africa, the USA, Brazil and members of the former Soviet Union. More than 95% of the asbestos was used in asbestos-cement products.
The Ban Asbestos Network of Japan (BANJAN1) has been calling for the ban of all types of asbestos for nearly fifteen years. BANJAN welcomed the Minister’s commitment and hoped that a total ban would be introduced as soon as possible. The NGO also called on the Government to establish adequate measures for monitoring the country’s asbestos situation and to introduce better systems of diagnosis, medical treatment, spiritual care and compensation for asbestos victims and their families. According to a BANJAN Spokesperson, the introduction of effective procedures for identifying, maintaining, repairing or removing asbestos products contained within the Japanese infrastructure was also urgent.
July 2, 2002