Toyota may agree to provide health-care aid to asthmatics


toyotaToyota Motor Corp. intends to agree to a health-care subsidy plan as part of a settlement with asthma patients who sued Toyota and six other automakers, claiming exhaust fumes from diesel vehicles caused their disease, informed sources said.

The suit, now pending at the Tokyo High Court, seeks compensation from the manufacturers as well as the central government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

The health-care plan was proposed by the metropolitan government last month. Toyota is the first carmaker indicating it intends to accept the plan, the sources said.

The proposal would cost around 4 billion yen per year to pay health-care expenses borne by bronchial asthma patients age 18 or older in the metropolitan area.

The central government, the metropolitan government, and a group of highway operators combined with the seven carmakers would each provide a third of the funding.

In a ruling in 2002, the Tokyo District Court acknowledged liability by the central and metropolitan governments for some of the plaintiffs, while compensation claims against the car manufacturers were rejected.

After this ruling, some of the manufacturers presented a document to the plaintiffs that said they would be willing to consider agreeing to heath-care assistance plans that the governments involved might work out.

The high court concluded hearings on the appeal in September and proposed a negotiated settlement, which led the metropolitan government to come up with its plan.

Of the other carmakers, four said they are considering accepting the proposal after weighing their responsibility with shareholders, while two are reluctant to go along with it, the sources said.

source - The Japan Times

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