Asbestos victim’s lawsuit: government to pay 18.75 million yen to family of Okinawan worker on U.S. military base

March 28, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

The government and the bereaved family of an Okinawan man who worked at the U.S. base and died of asbestos exposure agreed to a settlement proposed by the Naha District Court on March 27. The government will pay 18.75 million yen to the family of the victim. The victim worked at the U.S. base before and after Okinawa was returned to Japanese sovereignty. This is the second case involving an asbestos victim’s bereaved family where the government has had to pay a settlement.

According to the complaint by the family, the victim was employed by the U.S. military in 1961. He was responsible for inspection and repair of air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment at the bases within Okinawa until his retirement in September 1975. He had been exposed to asbestos dust while stripping the insulation material for duct cleaning and pipe repair. He died of lung disease in 2010.

So far, the government has argued that the United States should be responsible for the damages before May 15, 1972, when Okinawa was returned to Japan. In the settlement, the government conceded there was an employment relationship between the victim and the government for three years and four months during the period from May 15, 1972 until September 1975. The settlement was made on the basis that Japan has a legal responsibility for the health, safety and security of Japanese employees who work at the U.S. bases on the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement.

(English translation by T&CT)

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