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The Asian side of the world - II

Jean-François Sabouret

Part Two. National challenges and strategies

The miners of Chikuhô and pneumoconiosis

Bernard Thomann

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March 2013

On 26 December 1985, 84 former miners and the family members of 39 former diseased miners from the region Chikuhô in Kyûshû, supported by a group of lawyers already linked to other famous cases of pollution, such as that of Minamata, filed a lawsuit against the State and six big mining companies. These miners were victims of an incurable, particularly atrocious illness called jimpai in Japan and pneumoconiosis in English, which causes a slow death by asphyxiation in people who have breathed silica or coal dust. After nearly 10 years of proceedings, on 20 July 1995, the Fukuoka district court ordered the six mining companies to pay 197 million yen in damages to about 104 victims but did not recognize the responsibility of the State. After settlements with Mitsubishi, Sumitomo and Furukawa, the Fukuoka High Court, on appeal on 19 July 2001, ordered the three remaining companies and the State to pay 1.91 billion yen. On 27 April 2004, after a settlement with two other compani...

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