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HOME  > Past issues  > 2024 March 27 - April 2  > JCP Chair Tamura talks with Minamata Disease lawsuit plaintiffs’ legal team
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2024 March 27 - April 2 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

JCP Chair Tamura talks with Minamata Disease lawsuit plaintiffs’ legal team

March 27, 2024
Japanese Communist Party Chair Tamura Tomoko on March 25 in the Diet building held talks with a lawyers’ group working to support Minamata patients’ legal battle against their unjust exclusion from relief measures, and promised that the JCP will do its utmost to provide relief to all Minamata victims.

The talks took place three days after the Kumamoto District Court dismissed 140 Minamata patients’ claims in the lawsuit they filed against the central and Kumamoto Prefectural governments and Chisso Corporation. They claimed that it is unjust that they are not recognized as patients with Minamata disease and are not covered by the 2009 special relief measures law.

The 2009 law on special measures to provide relief to Minamata victims enables unrecognized Minamata patients to receive a lumpsum benefit payment if they have certain symptoms. However, many victims have been unable to get redress due to the law-imposed area and age restrictions on the eligibility for the relief payment.

In the talks with the JCP, the plaintiffs’ counsel criticized the Kumamoto District Court ruling for ignoring statements made by doctors who have examined many Minamata disease patients and for adopting the stance that the 20-year statute of limitations for damage claims expired for the case. On the other hand, the lawyers’ group pointed out that the ruling made it clear that it is necessary to revise the relief measures law in regard to the area requirement.

The lawyers’ group head, Sonoda Shoto, said that the plaintiffs are resolved to appeal against the district court ruling until they achieve victory.

Tamura said that what the government should do is to provide relief to all Minamata victims without delay, expressing her determination to make all-out efforts to achieve this.

On the following day, the plaintiffs and their legal team held a rally in the House of Representatives members’ office building with the aim of obtaining relief for all Minamata victims.

Along with JCP Secretariat Head Koike Akira, JCP members of the House of Representatives Tamura Takaaki and Miyamoto Takeshi, and JCP member of the House of Councilors Nihi Sohei attended the rally.
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