Amagasaki Hardest Hit By Mesothelioma
The number of people who died from asbestos-related mesothelioma in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, from 2002 to 2004 was more than five times greater than the national average, according to city officials.
They said a survey of health ministry statistics showed that of the approximately 10,000 deaths in the city in the three-year period, 50 were the result of mesothelioma.
Considering Amagasaki's population of 460,000, that represents an average of 3.6 deaths per 100,000 people annually. That figure is 5.2 times higher than the nationwide average of 0.69 per 100,000 people recorded in 2003, when a total of 878 people died from the disease.
Mesothelioma is a form of lung cancer that is caused by inhaling highly toxic asbestos.
Officials said the results underscored the high incidence of the illness in Amagasaki residents who lived near the former Kanzaki plant of Kubota Corp., a major machinery manufacturer.
They added that the deaths accounted for about one-quarter of the 213 mesothelioma casualties recorded between 2002 and 2004 in Hyogo Prefecture, which has a population of about 5.5 million.
Because the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare statistics, which show the date, time and cause of death, only relate to those who died in Amagasaki, the officials said the actual figure was likely to be far greater when taking into account victims who moved out of the city.(IHT/Asahi: September 5,2005)