Asbestos litigation in Japan continues to grow. On December 1, 2010,  Honda lost in a mesothelioma claim,  and was ordered to pay 54 million yen in compensation, which is about $ 650,000. A Japan Today article reporting the judgment  is here, and is pasted below.

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TOKYO (Kyodo) — Honda Motor Co. was ordered Wednesday to pay 54 million yen in compensation to a former mechanic who claimed he suffered a cancer called mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos while working at a factory of Honda’s subsidiary in Nagoya in the late 1960s.

In handing down the ruling at the Tokyo District Court, Presiding Judge Koichiro Matsumoto said, "The risks of being exposed to asbestos had been known by the time the pneumoconiosis law was enacted in 1960 at the latest, and a major company like Honda should have been fully aware of the risks and the damages at the factory were foreseeable."

It is rare that asbestos-related damages have been recognized in a case involving an automaker. The Tokyo-based carmaker plans to appeal the sentence.

Matsumoto also said that Honda had "the obligation to take such measures as prohibiting workers to spray air around brake drums, which use asbestos, for cleaning, so as to prevent the spread of dust, or to order them to wear masks."

According to the ruling, Hidenari Hane, 61, inhaled asbestos when he was involved in the process of replacing brake parts while he was working as a mechanic at the factory from April 1968 to December 1969.

He was diagnosed in 2007 as having mesothelioma, and the labor standards inspection office in Nagoya also recognized that he deserves worker’s compensation.

(Mainichi Japan) December 2, 2010