Asthma Patients Picket Nissan Headquarters

Protesters want Nissan to pay damages to victims of diesel-emitted and car fumes pollution.

Demanding compensation and accusing the Japanese automaker of causing their illness through diesel gas fumes, asthma patients rallied Nov. 7 in front of Nissan Motor's headquarters. Around 100 protesters blared slogans from loudspeakers from morning until afternoon in front of Nissan's headquarters in central Tokyo. "We demand that Nissan pay damages to victims of diesel-emitted and car fumes pollution," said Takao Nishimura, a lawyer defending the case.

The group accuses Nissan of snubbing requests to compensate for pollution that occurred before Japan restricted diesel vehicles. Japanese automakers have more recently cashed in by designing eco-friendly cars. A total of 633 people are demanding 15 billion yen (127 million dollars) from seven automobile firms including Nissan and Nissan Diesel, Nishimura said.

The asthma patients reached amicable settlements with some other firms including industry leader Toyota, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Isuzu.

The group said that 107 people have already died from the sickness or by committing suicide because of the strains on living.

Authorities tightened regulations on diesel-engine exhaust emissions in 2003, fining trucks and buses if they emit toxic firms in Tokyo and surrounding prefectures.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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