In Yokkaichi city in central Japan today (Monday), the first decision by a Japanese court on industrial responsibility for air pollution went in favour of the public.
Aerial View zoom to Yokkaichi City
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ws interior court zoom to Judge Yonemoto
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ms man outside with sign proclaiming public victory
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cu company president
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Background: In Yokkaichi city in central Japan today (Monday), the first decision by a Japanese court on industrial responsibility for air pollution went in favour of the public.
Nine plaintiffs demanded compensation of 250,000 sterling from five chemical firms and an electric power company for causing air pollution leading to acute respiratory diseases. Of the nine victims two died before the decision was handed down in the four-year court battle.
Judge Kiyoshi Yonemoto ordered the six companies to pay total compensator of 100,000 sterling to the nine plaintiffs. He ruled the companies, part of a petrochemical complex, were responsible for polluting the air and causing pollution-induced diseases.
Yokkaichi was regarded as a test case, almost certainly leading to a rash of similar suits around Japan. It was the first time a number of industrial concerns have been charged with joint responsibility.
The petrochemical complex began operations in the late 1950's. By the mid 1960's residents of a nearby town complained of serious respiratory diseases, including asthma and chronic bronchitis. Some became bedridden and remain that way. Others fled from the town.
After the court decision, the president of one company said they might take the cage to a higher court. But he added he thought the judgement fair and would devote himself to protection of people still living in the affected area.