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Alarming Mesothelioma Rates Near Abandoned Japanese Factory

Amagasaki, Japan - Residents of Amagasaki, a former manufacturing hub, are dying at alarming rates from asbestos related diseases a study released by Japan's Environment Ministry has concluded.

The survey was the first of its kind released by the Japanese government regarding mesothelioma rates among residents living near asbestos processing facilities. Exposure likely occurred from Kubota Corporation's former Kanzaki factory that processed blue asbestos (crocidolite) for nearly 20 years. Crocidolite is believed to be one of the more toxic forms of asbestos.

Citywide death rates from mesothelioma were up to 12 times the national average for men and up to14 times the national average for women. Rates for people living in the immediate vicinity of the factory were up to 21 times the national average for men and up to 68 times the national average for women.

Recently Japan has been focusing on its asbestos legacy as manufacturing slowly moves from the country. Lawmakers passed an asbestos compensation bill last year to help patients cover medical expenses in addition to nominal compensation.

However complaints about eligibility and funding have mounted in the following months. The study found numerous cases of people likely suffering from asbestosis which is not covered by current laws.

The Environmental Ministry stopped short of concluding that the results prove a higher mesothelioma risk outside of the factory. However they will be surveying other industrial sites in Yokohama and Nara prefecture to determine mesothelioma rates among residents in those cities.