KOGA Says! RENGO's Statement by General Secretary

Statement on the Enactment of the Asbestos Injury Relief Law and Related Amendments to the Air Pollution Control Law

06 February 2006
RENGO's Statement by General Secretary Koga
  1. On February 3, a plenary session of the Upper House passed and enacted by majority vote a package of bills related to asbestos. The package included the “Bill for the Asbestos Injury Relief Law,” which establishes a framework of relief measures for victims of asbestos-related health problems, as well as victims of asbestosis who could not apply for worker’s accident compensation insurance benefits due to the statute of limitations, as well as amendments to the “Local Finance Law,” “Building Standards Law,” “Air Pollution Control Law” and “Waste Disposal Management Law,” to prevent future asbestos-related health hazards by limiting exposure to asbestos.

  2. Although they are still inadequate, the newly enacted laws include a portion of the contents asked by RENGO.
    The “Asbestos Injury Relief Law” provides a benefit program for asbestos victims who have developed asbestosis due to exposure to environmental contamination by asbestos, but were left out of existing relief programs or were unable to apply for worker’s accident compensation insurance benefits due to the statute of limitation, as well as for families or deceased victims. The new benefit program will be funded by the national government, municipalities and corporations.
       Further, the amended “Local Finance Law” includes special measures to finance the removal of asbestos from public facilities. The amended “Building Standards Law” imposes restrictions on the use of sprayed asbestos and asbestos-containing rock wool spraying, and the amended “Air Pollution Control Law” makes it mandatory for contractors doing demolition work to implement anti-scattering measures to contain asbestos, and the amended “Waste Disposal Management Law” sets preferential measures to encourage and direct waste disposal contractors to detoxify asbestos waste by fusion.

  3. The new benefits programs under the “Asbestos Injury Relief Law” is a form of relief scheme for victims of asbestos, but it should have been established as a compensation system for victims and their families considering the government’s liability arising from its negligence to control asbestos. Moreover, the Asbestos Law does not have provisions that correct the discrepancy in benefits between the newly established benefit program and the existing workers accident insurance scheme, or that exempt claims by victims suffering asbestosis from the statute of limitation, both of which have been strongly sought by RENGO. Also, it is regrettable that the government and the ruling parties have failed to add white lung to the specified asbestos diseases under the benefit program, or to create a “National Conference on Asbestos” within the Cabinet Office, with participation by government, business, trade unions, NGOs and asbestosis patients organizations.

  4. As these asbestos laws have been enacted, the Central Environment Council and other relevant authorities will set government and ministerial decrees pursuant to the laws. Throughout the deliberation process and on other occasions, RENGO will continue to monitor the government’s new asbestos control measures and the asbestos victim relief program, examine progress in their implementation, and continue to pursue “negligence committed by regulatory authorities.” While doing so, we will continue to campaign toward the realization of an “asbestos-free society.”