Japan Nears Final Settlement on Hepatitis B Lawsuit

The Japanese government will soon reach formal agreement to settle a massive class-action lawsuit involving people who contracted hepatitis B through childhood vaccination, expected to cost up to 3.2 trillion yen ($39 billion) in damages to compensate hundreds of thousands of victims.

The long-fought lawsuit, originally started in 1989, is a legacy of the time when needles and syringes were routinely reused to inoculate a number of children to save costs, a practice that persisted in Japan until 1988. Victims' groups estimate nearly half of the nation's 1.3 million hepatitis B patients and carriers had contracted the virus this way. The government's damages estimate is based on projections that a total of 33,000 patients and 400,000 carriers will seek compensation over the next 30 years.

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