Inaction on Asbestos Disasters and Delayed Countermeasures*
What might have changed had there been no Kubota Shock? Local residents viewed asbestos problems as workplace accidents, and rarely considered them to have a pollution-related dimension. However, it appears that the issue abruptly took on that dimension in 1987 with mounting public concern over the removal of spray-on asbestos materials from school facilities, and reports of asbestos dumping at the Yokosuka naval base. However, even in these cases, the issue was treated as a construction-related problem with sprayed asbestos applications, and was deemed unlikely to have occurred at all if workers had followed proper control procedures.
The national government is clearly guilty of inaction on the asbestos issue. It is projected that the scale of asbestos harm and contamination will continue to grow in the years ahead. The Act on Asbestos Health Damage Relief has been established and is now in force. As noted in the review of selected provisions, the New Law has quite a few problems. This is a law that should be revised, with a preamble that clarifies the national government’s liability, and recognizes the asbestos crisis to be the stock pollution disaster that it is.
KeywordsPrecautionary Approach Work Clothing Workplace Accident Asbestos Dust Asbestos Material
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