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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Japanese Asbestos Disease Findings Near One Manufacturing Plant, and Comments on Employers Agreeing

The article below is from Mainichi. The numbers are not large, and the article is more interesting for its statements regarding an employer agreeing to pay for medical examinations for persons who lived in the area before the plant arrived. One wonders if the reasoning for that line is the argument that residents assumed the risk by moving into the area.

"OSAKA — A man who once lived near an asbestos factory in Osaka’s Nishinari Ward has developed an asbestos-related cancer, it has been learned.

The man, who is in his 70s, lived close to a factory run by the former Osaka Packing Seizojo (now Japan Insulation Co.). He was diagnosed last year with mesothelioma, a cancer of the membrane lining the lungs and abdomen.

It is the first time a local Osaka resident has been found to have contracted an illness caused by asbestos contamination. The company has admitted that its operations could have affected the health of nearby residents, and will cover health checkup costs for anyone who lived near the factory before it moved to Mizuho, Gifu Prefecture, in 1964.

The Nishinari Ward factory produced asbestos insulation and fabric, among other products, and the man — who was an office worker — lived in the factory’s vicinity until it moved away.

When he was diagnosed with mesothelioma last year, the man had no idea what could have caused the illness. His family, however, noticed the former factory’s name on a list released by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare last autumn of businesses with connections to asbestos. The man requested in March this year that the company "implement measures for people who get sick."

Japan Insulation, meanwhile, has told the Mainichi that the man’s illness is "very regrettable," and that it will cover the costs of all physical exams he applied for. However, the firm also stated that "no one knew that asbestos was dangerous at the time (when the factory was operating), and therefore Japan Insulation has no legal responsibility for the man’s condition."

One former employee at the Nishinari plant has already died of mesothelioma, while a total of 10 workers at the Osaka and newer Gifu factories with mesothelioma or lung cancer have had their illnesses certified as work-related." (emphasis added).

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