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Local court advises settlement of Minamata-disease lawsuit

The Kumamoto District Court on January 22 recommended that both plaintiffs and defendants seek reconciliation to settle the Minamata-disease lawsuit in which Minamata-disease patients have called on the government, the Kumamoto Prefectural government, and chemical maker Chisso Corp to pay compensation.

Following the recommendation, the plaintiffs and officials representing the government held their first talks to work to reach a settlement. It was the first time for the government to sit at the negotiation table with Minamata-disease victims.

Oichi Toshio, head of the Minamata-disease patientsf association, expressed his determination by saying, gFinally, the recommendation has been issued. This is just the beginning of another stage of the struggle. We will win relief for all victims.h

Chief lawyer of the plaintiffsf legal team Sonoda Akihito said, gIt is significant for us to have succeeded in holding negotiations with government officials. Now we will work out the details of an agreement. Our basic demand is relief for all the victims.h

Adachi Yasuto, Japanese Communist Party candidate for the Kumamoto constituency in the Upper House election, encouraged the plaintiffs at a rally held after the court recommendation.

- Akahata, January 23, 2010

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