PM Suga Apologizes to Plaintiffs in Asbestos Suits

Politics Society

Tokyo, May 18 (Jiji Press)--Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Tuesday apologized to plaintiffs in lawsuits filed over asbestos-caused health issues, following the Supreme Court's ruling the previous day that found the government liable to pay compensation over the problems.

"As prime minister, I'm keenly aware of the responsibility, reflect (on the problems) sincerely and offer a heartfelt apology on behalf of the government," Suga told the plaintiffs and their lawyers at a meeting held at the prime minister's office. It was the first time for the prime minister to meet with plaintiffs in the lawsuits.

Suga also showed his eagerness to conclude a basic agreement for settlement with the plaintiffs at an early date.

"I'm lost for words when I think about the long-lasting burden and pain of people who suffered health damage and about the sorrow of those who lost their beloved family members," he said, stressing that the government wants to fully respect the plaintiffs' thoughts in forging a settlement deal.

In Monday's top court ruling, issued for lawsuits filed with courts in Tokyo, Yokohama, Kyoto and Osaka, respectively, the government and construction material makers were held responsible to pay damages. The lawsuits were filed by some 400 former construction workers and relatives of workers who died of health problems caused by asbestos.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press