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Japanese Asbestos Compensation

Firms to fork out combined 7.34 billion yen annually for asbestos-related illnesses.

Companies found responsible for health problems caused by asbestos will be required to fork out a combined total of 7.34 billion yen annually for four years under a new law to provide relief to victims, the Environment Ministry decided Wednesday.

The ministry will demand a combined 340 million yen annual payment from four asbestos-related companies that fall into categories such as having a higher death rate from the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma in the area surrounding the factory. Among these firms are Kubota Corp. and Nichias Corp. Another 2.63 million firms will be required to pay a total annual amount of about 7 billion yen.

The companies' payments will form part of the 76 billion yen in relief to be provided to victims under the new law.

A report that the Ministry of the Environment released on Wednesday showed that companies were regarded as special firms required to pay more aid if they met three of 10 conditions, such as having a higher death rate from mesothelioma in their local area compared with the national average, having used over 10,000 tons of asbestos in the past, and having recorded at least 10 workplace cases of lung cancer or mesothelioma caused by asbestos.

Based on the new law, regular firms will be required to pay amounts based on a system for collection of worker's compensation insurance. Major firms with about 60,000 employees will be required to pay about 30 million yen a year, those with about 300 employees will have to pay about 80,000 yen a year, and small- and medium-sized firms with about 10 employees will be required to pay about 3,000 yen a year.

Under the law, the payments will be deemed "relief," not "compensation." Focus was reportedly placed on spreading the cost over a large number of firms, rather than having a small number fork out a huge amount.

The collection period will start in fiscal 2007 and last for four years. The relief system will be re-evaluated at the end of this period. (Mainichi).


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