Persistent Thorns: Responsibility for Asbestos Disasters

  • Masafumi Kato


The problem of industrial pollution starts and ends with victims. This can be described as one of the lessons of history. One event hinted that the asbestos crisis might become known as one of the worst industrial calamities in history. That outlook was driven home in late June 2005 by a press announcement by the Kubota Corporation that there had been a heavy outbreak of asbestos-linked diseases among former workers for, and residents living near, its defunct Kanzaki factory in Amagasaki, a city in Hyogo Prefecture. The Kubota Shock was a news event which suggested that the outbreak needed to be treated as a case of industrial pollution on a scale surpassing the conventional bounds of workplace disasters. Now, over 5 years later, a damage compensation lawsuit launched on behalf of a group of former workers from the Sennan community of Osaka has thrown the spotlight of public scrutiny on a pattern of inaction by the national government. On May 19, 2010, the Osaka District Court issued its ruling, finding the national government liable for a failure to take appropriate action against asbestos despite its knowledge of the hazards associated with this material, thereby allowing the extent of victimization from asbestos exposure to spread. This was the first court ruling to find the national government liable for health problems associated with asbestos.


Moral Responsibility National Government Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Court Ruling Pleural Plaque 
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  1. Osaka Lawyers for Pneumoconiosis & Asbestos Victims and the Citizens’ Group of Asbestos Damage in Sennan (2009) Blame the government for the asbestos tragedy (in Japanese). Kamogawa Press, KyotoGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Kobe ShimbunKobeJapan

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