Pollution fallout: Japan pays dearly

 
Published: Friday 31 August 2007

the Japanese government recently reached an out-of-court settlement with the victims of vehicular emissions in Tokyo. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe announced to pay 6 billion (around us $49 million) to the victims.

The lawsuit was filed in May 1996 by a group of people living near major traffic arteries in Tokyo, who suffered from various respiratory illnesses. In October 2002, a local court confirmed the link between the illnesses and auto emissions, and ordered the municipal and the state governments to pay a sum of 79.2 million (around us $ 10.5 million) to the patients, who lived within 50 metre of the roads. The compensation will come from the state's 51-billion (around us $427 million) Pollution Health Damage Prevention Fund. Through February 2006, a total of 633 plaintiffs joined the lawsuit, suing Toyota Motor Corp, Nissan Motor Co, the Shuto Expressway Corp, five other automakers, and the state. The move is a major turnaround, especially after the erstwhile government had rejected the victims' demands for compensation. It had argued that the links between state policies and the victims' illnesses were not scientifically established.

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