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Experience with public interest litigations
Access to justice
Lawsuits related to environmental issues in Japan
Cases on health hazard problems
- One of the adverse effects of Japan's industrail development during the 1950's and 1960's are serious air and water pollution and many cases of health hazard problems. Those problems included bronchial diseases (i.e., Yokkaichi asthma) caused by air pollution, a central nervous system disorder (i.e., Minamata disease) caused by organic mercury contained in the drain off from chemical plants, and bone disease (i.e., Itai-Itai disease) caused by cadmium contained in the drain from mine located upriver.
1. Victims of such diseases did not receive any compensation except for some medical relief from local governments. Thus the victims had to file civil suits in order to claim damages against companies that caused pollution through their operations.
Legal precedent in tort cases
2. The plaintiffs had won all the pollution lawsuits since 1971 and a legal precedent in tort cases (Polluter Pays Principle: PPP) was established ordering polluters to take responsibility for compensating victims of pollution related diseases.