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Over 2,300 asbestos victims have not sought compensation: health ministry

At least 2,314 people suffering from health damage caused by their habitual inhalation of asbestos have not requested compensation from the national government even though they are highly likely eligible for such payments, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.

The figure is approximately 10 times the number (about 230) of people who had sought compensation by the end of September. The health ministry will start sending notifications to those who have not requested damages because many victims may not know they are entitled for redress.

The compensatory payment system was established based on an October 2014 Supreme Court decision which recognized that the national government is responsible for health damages caused by asbestos.

The system covers those who developed illnesses such as mesothelioma, lung cancer or asbestosis by habitually inhaling asbestos as a result of working at manufacturing plants using asbestos between May 1958 and April 1971. If they or the bereaved families of the deceased file a lawsuit against the state, the government will settle the case out of court and pay up to 13 million yen in compensation.

An organization supporting asbestos victims has demanded that the government identify more victims and keep them informed of the compensation system because the number of those seeking redress has not increased. The ministry came up with the latest figure after examining data on work-related accidents since May this year.

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