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2016 (Gyo-Hi) 371

2017.09.08
2016 (Gyo-Hi) 371
Minshu Vol. 71, No. 7
Judgment on the prefectural governor’s obligation to pay disability compensation costs under the Act on Compensation, etc. of Pollution-related Health Damage in a case where a person certified under Article 4, paragraph (2) of the same act has already received all payment of the obligation to compensate for damage suffered by the person that was made final and binding by a judgment in an action seeking damages from the entity causing the damage
Case seeking revocation of a decision not to pay disability compensation costs
Judgment of the Second Petty Bench, quashed and decided by the Supreme Court
Fukuoka High Court, Judgment of June 16, 2016
Where a person certified under Article 4, paragraph (2) of the Act on Compensation, etc. of Pollution-related Health Damage filed, and received a judgment in, an action seeking damages for his/her health damage arising from his/her disease so certified against the entity causing such damage and has already received all payment of the obligation to compensate for such damage that was made final and binding by such judgment, the relevant prefectural governor shall be entirely released from his/her obligation to pay disability compensation costs under the same act.
Article 1, Article 3, paragraph (1), Article 4, paragraph (2), Article 13, paragraph (1) and Article 25, paragraph (1) of the Act on Compensation, etc. of Pollution-related Health Damage



Act on Compensation, etc. of Pollution-related Health Damage



Article 1

The purpose of this Act is to strive for the prompt and fair protection of, and the ensuring of the health of, victims, etc. who have suffered health damage caused by the effects of significant air pollution or water pollution (including a deterioration of the bottom sediments of water bodies; hereinafter the same applies) arising over a considerable area in connection with business activities or other human activities, by providing compensation to cover damage suffered as a result of such health damage and by conducting projects necessary for the welfare of victims and projects necessary to prevent health damage caused by the effects of air pollution.



Article 3

(1)The benefits to be paid under this Act to compensate for health damage as referred to in Article 1 (hereinafter referred to as the “Compensation Benefits”) shall be as listed below:

(i) Medical treatment benefit and medical treatment costs

(ii) Disability compensation costs

(iii) Costs of compensation for surviving family

(iv) Lump sum compensation for surviving family

(v) Child compensation allowance

(vi) Medical treatment allowance

(vii) Funeral assistance



Article 4

(2)The prefectural governor who has jurisdiction over all or part of a Type 2 Area shall, at the request of a person who is considered to have any of the diseases designated under Article 2, paragraph (3) with respect to such Type 2 Area, certify that the disease affecting such person has been caused by the effects of air pollution or water pollution in such Type 2 Area. The second sentence and the rest of the preceding paragraph that follows shall apply mutatis mutandis to such case.



Article 13

(1)Where a person who is eligible to receive any of the compensation benefits has received compensation for damage on the same ground (excluding any case falling under the case set forth in paragraph (2) of the following article), the relevant prefectural governor shall be released from his/her obligation to pay the Compensation Benefits to the extent of the amount of such compensation.



Article 25

(1)Where the degree of disability caused by the designated disease of a certified person (excluding persons under the age specified by Cabinet Order) certified by the relevant prefectural governor falls under any of the degrees of disability designated by Cabinet Order, such prefectural governor shall, at the request of the certified person, pay him/her the applicable disability compensation costs according to the degree of his/her disability, after seeking the opinion of the Pollution-related Health Damage Certification Council.
Of the judgment of prior instance, the portion judging against the appellant shall be quashed.

The appellee’s appeal with respect to the portion mentioned in the preceding paragraph shall be dismissed.

The cost of the appeal and final appeal shall be borne by the appellee.
Reasons for the petition for acceptance of final appeal filed by the Counsels for the Appeal, JOZUKA Makoto and Others



1. In this case, the appellee, who is a certified Minamata disease patient, claimed payment of disability compensation costs under the Act on Compensation, etc. of Pollution-related Health Damage (hereinafter, the “ACPHD”) and received a decision not to pay disability compensation costs from the governor of Kumamoto Prefecture, on the grounds that the appellee’s damage related to his/her health damage has been fully compensated for by the entity causing the damage as a result of the action seeking damages (hereinafter, the “Non-payment Decision”), which has prompted the appellee to seek revocation of such decision from the appellant.

2. Provisions of relevant laws and regulations

(1) Article 4, paragraph (2) of the ACPHD provides that the prefectural governor who has jurisdiction over a Type 2 Area as defined in Article 2, paragraph (2) of the same act shall, at the request of a person who is considered to have any of the diseases designated under paragraph (3) of the said article, certify that the disease affecting such person has been caused by the effects of air pollution or water pollution (including a deterioration of the bottom sediments of water bodies; hereinafter the same applies) in such area. Article 3, paragraph (1) of the same act lists medical treatment benefit and medical treatment costs, disability compensation costs, costs of compensation for surviving family, lump sum compensation for surviving family, child compensation allowance, medical treatment allowance, and funeral assistance, as the benefits to be paid to compensate for health damage caused by the effects of significant air pollution or water pollution arising over a considerable area in connection with business activities or other human activities (hereinafter, the “Compensation Benefits”). Article 25, paragraph (1) of the same act provides, with respect to disability compensation costs out of the Compensation Benefits listed above, that if the degree of disability of a person certified as described above (excluding persons under the age specified by Cabinet Order) by the relevant prefectural governor falls under any of the degrees of disability designated by Cabinet Order, such prefectural governor shall, at the request of the person, pay him/her the applicable disability compensation costs according to the degree of his/her disability, after seeking the opinion of the Pollution-related Health Damage Certification Council.

(2) Article 13, paragraph (1) of the ACPHD provides that if a person who is eligible to receive any of the Compensation Benefits has received compensation for damage on the same ground (excluding any case falling under the case set forth in Article 14, paragraph (2) of the same act), the relevant prefectural governor shall be released from his/her obligation to pay the Compensation Benefits to the extent of the amount of such compensation.

3. An outline of the facts and other circumstances related to the case which duly became final and binding in the judgment of prior instance is as described below:

(1) On May 2, 1973, the appellee filed an application to the governor of Kumamoto Prefecture for certification of Minamata disease in accordance with the provisions of Article 3, paragraph (1) of the Act on Special Measures for Relief of Pollution-related Patients (Act No. 90 of 1969, repealed by Act No. 111 of 1973; hereinafter, the “LSMRPP”) (hereinafter, the “Certification Application”).

(2) (a) On June 21, 1984, the appellee filed an action seeking damages against Chisso Corporation and others (hereinafter, the “Former Action”). In the Former Action, the plaintiffs of the action, including the appellee, claimed that the amount of damage suffered as a result of being affected by Minamata disease was 30 million yen for a surviving patient and 50 million yen for a deceased patient, both excluding attorneys’ fees. While the plaintiffs listed lost profits, solatia and nursing care costs as the details of their damage, they did not claim specific amounts of damage corresponding to the respective items of damage. The judgment of the first instance of the Former Action ruled that the aforementioned amounts claimed by the plaintiffs were considered to have been basically determined by taking their physical, mental, economic and social damage comprehensively into account and were understood as having the nature of solatium as a whole.

(b) On April 27, 2001, the court of second instance of the Former Action rendered a judgment, in which the court awarded the appellee 8 million yen as solatium and 0.5 million yen as attorneys’ fees, based on the same understanding as the court of first instance of the Former Action about the aforementioned amounts claimed by the plaintiffs, and accepted the plaintiffs’ claims against Chisso to the extent of 8.5 million yen and delay damages on this amount. This judgment became final and binding around that time (hereinafter this judgment is referred to as the “Final Judgment on the Former Action”).

(c) In accordance with the Final Judgment on the Former Action, the appellee received 8.5 million yen and delay damages thereon from Chisso.

(3) On July 6, 2011, the governor of Kumamoto Prefecture certified, in response to the Certification Application, that the appellee’s illness is Minamata disease caused by the effects of water pollution in the area of Minamata City and Ashikita-gun, under Article 3, paragraph (1) of the LSMRPP in accordance with the provisions of Article 4, paragraph (1) of the Supplementary Provisions of the ACPHD. As a result, the appellee became deemed to be a person certified as having Minamata disease under the provisions of Article 4, paragraph (2) of the ACPHD (Article 4, paragraph (2) of the Supplementary Provisions of the same act and paragraphs (3) and (4) of the Supplementary Provisions of the Enforcement Order of the ACPHD).

(4) On March 26, 2012, the appellee claimed payment of the applicable disability compensation costs from the governor of Kumamoto Prefecture in accordance with the provisions of Article 25, paragraph (1) of the ACPHD. On September 24, 2013, the same governor made the Non-payment Decision on the grounds that the appellee’s damage related to his/her health damage resulting from Minamata disease had been fully compensated for by the entity causing the damage as a result of the Former Action, due to which the same governor was entirely released from his obligation to pay the Compensation Benefits pursuant to the provisions of Article 13, paragraph (1) of the same act.

4. Under the circumstances including the facts related to the case described above, the court of prior instance understood the Final Judgment on the Former Action as ordering Chisso to compensate for all of the appellee’s damage related to his/her health damage resulting from Minamata disease, and accepted the appellee’s demand for revocation of the Non-payment Decision by ruling as follows in summary:

Article 13, paragraph (1) of the ACPHD only provides that if certain damage has been compensated for, the prefectural governor shall be released from his/her obligation to pay the Compensation Benefits to the extent of the amount of such compensation. It does not provide that the prefectural governor shall be entirely released from his/her obligation to pay the Compensation Benefits regardless of the amount of Compensation Benefits or the amount of compensation for damage. In addition, the scheme of Compensation Benefits under the same act is understood as involving a social security-like factor other than pure damage compensation, which prevents us from understanding that the governor of Kumamoto Prefecture is automatically and entirely released from his obligation to pay the Compensation Benefits as a result of Chisso’s full payment of the monetary damage awarded by the Final Judgment on the Former Action.

The Non-payment Decision should then be considered to be in violation of the said paragraph and thus illegal, since the decision was made on the assumption that the damage had been automatically and entirely compensated for, without discussing whether or not any disability compensation costs remained to be paid after the said governor had been released from his obligation to pay disability compensation costs to the extent of the amount of payment made pursuant to the Final Judgment on the Former Action.

5. However, the ruling of the court of prior instance described above is not acceptable, for the following reasons:

(1) Article 1 of the ACPHD provides that the purpose of the act is to strive for the prompt and fair protection of, and the ensuring of the health of, victims who have suffered health damage caused by the effects of significant air pollution or water pollution arising over a considerable area in connection with business activities or other human activities, by such means as providing compensation to cover damage suffered as a result of such health damage. To achieve this purpose, Article 3, paragraph (1), item (ii) of the same act provides that disability compensation costs shall be paid in order to compensate for such health damage. Thus, the ACPHD makes it clear that the payment of disability compensation costs is intended to promptly compensate for damage related to such health damage.

The ACPHD also requires that the relevant prefectural government, etc. shall pay the costs incurred in the payment of disability compensation costs (Article 47). However, the act provides that the costs incurred in the payment of disability compensation costs to persons certified under Article 4, paragraph (2) of the same act shall be entirely paid from specific charges collected from the entity causing the damage by the Environmental Restoration and Conservation Agency (Article 48, paragraph (1) and Article 49, paragraph (2) of the ACPHD and Article 26, paragraph (1) of the Enforcement Order of the ACPHD), thus requiring the entity causing the damage to eventually bear the costs.

In light of these mechanisms of the ACPHD, it is appropriate to understand that disability compensation costs payable to persons certified under Article 4, paragraph (2) of the same act are to be paid in place of payment of the obligation to compensate for damage which should properly be made by the entity causing the damage, in order to achieve the purpose of the act, i.e., to promptly compensate for damage related to the health damage suffered by these persons. The provision of Article 13, paragraph (1) of the same act can also be considered to be based on the same idea.

From this follows that if all of the damage related to health damage resulting from a disease certified under Article 4, paragraph (2) of the ACPHD has been compensated for, it should be deemed that no more damage remains to be compensated for by paying disability compensation costs under the same act. Therefore, it is appropriate to understand that if a person certified under the said paragraph filed an action seeking damages for his/her health damage resulting from the disease so certified against the entity causing the damage and has already received all payment of the entity’s civil obligation to compensate for such damage, the relevant prefectural governor is released from all of his/her obligation to pay disability compensation costs under the same act.

(2) This reasoning can be applied in this case as follows. According to the facts related to the case described above, the appellee filed an action seeking damages for his/her health damage resulting from Minamata disease against Chisso, the entity causing such damage. The Final Judgment on the Former Action is understood as ordering Chisso to compensate for all of such damage. Therefore, the governor of Kumamoto Prefecture has been entirely released from his obligation to pay to the appellee the disability compensation costs under the ACPHD as a result of the appellee’s receipt of the damages in accordance with the judgment, and the Non-payment Decision cannot be regarded as violating Article 13, paragraph (1) of the ACPHD.

6. The ruling of the court of prior instance, which is different from the above discussion, contains a violation of law that obviously affects its judgment. The appellant’s reasons for the petition for acceptance of final appeal are well-grounded in that it is consistent with the above, and the portion of the judgment of prior instance judging against the appellant should inevitably be quashed. Based on the above discussion, it is also obvious that the appellee’s argument that the governor’s failure to seek the opinion of the Pollution-related Health Damage Certification Council should make the Non-payment Decision illegal is groundless. Therefore, the appellee’s demand for revocation of the said decision is groundless. The judgment of the first instance, which dismissed this demand of the appellee, is thus acceptable, and the appellee’s appeal should be dismissed to this extent.

Accordingly, the Court unanimously decides as set forth in the main text.
Justice ONUKI Yoshinobu

Justice ONIMARU Kaoru

Justice YAMAMOTO Tsuneyuki

Justice KANNO Hiroyuki
(This translation is provisional and subject to revision.)