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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 June 3 - 9  > Pollution victims stage joint action seeking relief measures
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2015 June 3 - 9 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Pollution victims stage joint action seeking relief measures

June 4, 2015
Pollution-related victims and their families from across the country participated in an annual concerted action on June 3 in central Tokyo, demanding that the government implement measures to relieve all victims and eliminate pollution.

Representatives of the demonstrators made representations to Environment Minister Mochizuki Yoshio.

One of the representatives, Yoshida Keiko, 79, is a member of the group of plaintiffs seeking state relief measures for patients with Niigata-Minamata disease.

From early her childhood, Yoshida had eaten fish from the Agano River in Niigata Prefecture which was contaminated with the methyl mercury discharged by a chemical company. When in her 20s, her mouth and arms began to become numbed and she has since suffered from muscle deterioration. In spite of her repeated requests, the state has still refused to admit that her disease was caused by the pollutant. “I know I can never recover my health. But the government should at least recognize me as a Minamata disease patient and offer compensation,” she said in tears.

Minister Mochizuki promised to work to prevent pollution, saying, “I’ll give serious consideration to the great pains victims have gone through.”

Those representatives handed the minister nearly 60,000 signatures calling for relieving all pollution victims.

Meanwhile, about 200 people from Fukushima Prefecture made representations in the Diet building to the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The Abe administration is now considering discontinuing paying damages to disaster-hit local businesses at the end of February 2017.

A leader of the group of disaster victims in Fukushima, Fujikura Eiichi, pushed the government to continue providing compensation, stressing, “If it is cut off, many small enterprises will have no choice but to declare bankruptcy.”

The participants also urged the state authorities to conduct a detailed health examination of children, improve the working conditions of workers at the Fukushima plant, and move the residents in temporary housing units to public apartments as soon as possible.

Past related article:
> Pollution-induced disease patients call for continuation of free medical care [December 12, 2013]
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