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KyoAni arson victims granted workers' compensation

In this Dec. 25, 2019 file photo, Kyoto Animation Co.'s 1st Studio, burned out in the arson attack, is seen covered in soundproof sheeting in Kyoto's Fushimi Ward. (Mainichi/Yoko Kunimoto)

KYOTO -- The Kyoto Labor Bureau has started paying workers' compensation to the families of the victims of the July 2019 arson attack on Kyoto Animation Co. as well as to those who were injured in the fire, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

In the attack on KyoAni's 1st Studio, a total of 36 employees and executives were killed and 33 others were injured. The labor bureau has not disclosed the number of applications for workers' compensation it approved or the reasons behind its decision.

According to several family members of the arson victims, they applied for workers' compensation through the animation studio before receiving letters from the labor bureau notifying them of approval. They said a portion of the compensation funds have already been transferred to their bank accounts.

When a worker gets injured or develops a disease on the job and the problem is determined to be work-induced, they are eligible for workers' compensation. In the KyoAni case, all the victims were either killed or injured while they were working at the company's 1st studio, and at the end of July shortly after the arson attack, the labor bureau was already saying it would "respond quickly" if applications for compensation were submitted.

According to the Kyoto Labor Bureau, it generally decides whether to pay compensation to bereaved families of suspected work-related accident victims within four months from the time of application. A lawyer knowledgeable about the industrial accident compensation system told the Mainichi Shimbun, "In complicated cases such as those that result in a worker's suicide after they suffer a mental illness, sometimes it takes years before a labor bureau approves the application, but in this case the incident clearly happened while the victims were working. The arsonist is likely unable to pay compensation himself, and that could have affected the labor bureau's decision."

In the past, workers' compensation was granted to those who were killed or injured while on the job or commuting to work in the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas attack, as well as to the victims of a 2001 consumer credit firm robbery and arson, which resulted in the deaths of five workers.

(Japanese original by Yoko Minami, Kyoto Bureau, and Yoko Kunimoto, Osaka Regional News Center)

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