Chronic asthma patient pleads with environment minister for an end to air pollution

On a day of national concerted actions, pollution victims on June 1 made representations to Environment Minister Koike Yuriko, calling for pollution to be eliminated and for new measures to be taken for the relief of victims.

In the meeting with Koike, Koyanagi Haruko said, "Please do everything possible to end the air pollution that has plagued my family for three generations and set up a reliable medical care system to reduce our suffering."

Koyanagi, who lives in Tokyo, has been suffering from pollution-related asthma for about 20 years since her 40s. Her daughter, who was taken ill at six, has been afflicted with asthma so seriously that she has even considered suicide. Koyanagi's mother also fell ill in her 70s and died from a sudden asthma attack.

Hashiguchi Saburo, representative of the National Liaison Council of Minamata Disease (mercury poisoning) Victims, complained to the minister about the Kumamoto prefectural governor's refusal last March to recognize two Minamata disease patients who has been recognized as such by the Fukuoka High Court in 1985.

Hashiguchi asked, "What is the good of dismissing the two persons after keeping them in suspense for almost 20 years?" He demanded that the prefecture at least pay for their medical expenses. (end)

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