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JCP proposes relief for all Minamata disease patients

The Japanese Communist Party published its proposal for concrete measures to relieve all Minamata disease patients. JCP Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi explained the proposal at a news conference on March 23.

The JCP proposal, based on a 2004 Supreme Court judgment, demands that the government survey the health of residents in the affected areas as well as the local environment, revise its standards for certifying Minamata disease sufferers, establish a judicial relief system, and take permanent relief measures.

Ichida said, "We will present the other parties with our proposal and hope to reach a consensus at least among the opposition parties. We'd like to make efforts to achieve what Minamata disease patients are really in need of."

The JCP proposal criticizes a special measures bill submitted to the Diet by the ruling coalition parties as excluding many victims from relief and acquitting chemical maker Chisso Corporation of responsibility by allowing it to split into two entities.

It also condemns the ruling parties for trying to require victims to withdraw their applications for recognition as Minamata disease sufferers or drop lawsuits to this effect if they are to receive relief.

Minamata disease: pollution-related disease caused by organic mercury in waste water discharged from a Chisso Corp. plant into Yatsushiro Bay. It was named after Minamata City, Kumamoto Prefecture, where the disease was first acknowledged in 1956. In 2004, the Supreme Court held the state and Kumamoto prefectural governments responsible for failing to prevent the spread of Minamata disease in addition to Chisso's responsibility for causing it.

- Akahata, March 20 & 24, 2009

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