Kobe, Japan - A major machine manufacturing company in Japan is being held responsible for the death of a man who developed asbestos-related cancer due to the fact that he worked close to their plant in Amagasaki.
According to a story in the Daily Yomiuri, a Kobe District Court has ordered Kubota to pay approximately 32 million yen to the family of the man, who never worked at the plant but merely breathed in the asbestos dust released by the plant while employed at another facility in the vicinity. This is the first time a court has determined that a company is responsible for any asbestos-related issues pertaining to the areas outside their facilities.
The article notes that Kojiro Yamauchi of Amagasaki died 16 years ago at the age of 80. From 1955 until 1975, Yamauchi worked at a factory that was located about 200 meters from the Kubota plant.
After a short trial, Presiding Judge Yoshihiro Konishi acknowledged that Yamauchi’s death from pleural mesothelioma was indeed related to asbestos exposure. His ruling stated that Kubota was liable for the man’s death because the factory used large amounts of asbestos at any given time. In addition, the judge cited an expert opinion which stated that the area near the factory, including Yamauchi’s workplace, represented a spot where there was considerable risk for developing the disease because of the asbestos that was constantly released from the plant, lingering in their air where it could be inhaled.
The court also awarded compensation to Ayako Yasui, a woman who lived within 1.5 kilometers of the plant for 35 years and who often shopped in an area in the shadow of the Kubota manufacturing facility.