Japanese company president apologetic for asbestos exposure

December 26th, 2005

The president of Kubota Corp. has apologized to the people who live close by its now-shuttered Kanzaki factory, according to the Japan Times.

The Amagasaki residents, who are suffering from asbestos-related diseases, say that Daisuke Hatakake has vowed to arrange compensation for them similar to that for Kubota employees by April 2006.

Hatakake conceded that asbestos fibers could have escaped from the factory premises, but he insisted that there was no proof that it had caused the mesothelioma that is now common in the area. The people lived near the factory, which operated from 1954 to 1997 and made such products as asbestos-containing sewer pipes. Nine tons of blue asbestos, the most toxic form of the substance, were used there in the process.

Of the factory’s 251 employees, about half have been diagnosed with asbestos-linked diseases such as mesothelioma and 61 have died.

The company already has a system under which mesothelioma patients and bereaved families living near the factory can receive 2 million yen ($16,500) in sympathy and condolence money. Of the 70 people who have applied for the money, 46 have been paid.

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