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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 May 30 - June 5  > Minamata-disease patients demand early relief
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2007 May 30 - June 5 [ENVIRONMENT]

Minamata-disease patients demand early relief

June 5, 2007
On June 4, Minamata-disease victims, their families, and supporters gathered in Tokyo and carried out one-day actions calling for the earliest possible relief to the victims of the disease, which was first officially recognized in 1956.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit demanding state compensation for Minamata-disease victims met the Environment Minister Wakabayashi Masatoshi and urged him to conduct health examinations of 470,000 residents living in the Shiranui Sea area in Kyushu and to drastically improve the criteria of certification for Minamata-disease patients. Wakabayashi expressed his apology for the failure to prevent the spread of the disease.

On June 3, a medical team supporting Minamata-disease patients in Kumamoto Prefecture made public their research results showing that among 1,270 plaintiffs in a lawsuit demanding state recognition of their disease and compensation for the damage, almost all of them would be recognized as patients if the criteria laid down by the Supreme Court is applied. The doctors are calling on the government to conduct a through investigation into the health damage.

Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi and two other JCP Dietmembers on June 4 in Tokyo met with “No more Minamata-disease action” participants. Referring to JCP activities in the Diet demanding that the government conduct environmental surveys and health examinations and review the government criteria of recognizing Minamata disease-patients, Ichida expressed his solidarity with the patients and expressed his determination to make further efforts to find a solution to the problem.

Later in the day, about 1,300 plaintiffs, patients, and their supporters took part in a meeting to exchange their experiences in their struggles. They adopted an appeal calling for increasing a national movement for the eradication of pollution.

In 1968, the government acknowledged that Minamata-disease was cased by methylmercury that the Chisso Corporation had discharged from its factory in Minamata City into the Shiranui Sea. It took 12 years until the disease was officially recognized after the first report on the disease had come out.

In 2004, the Supreme Court ruled that the state, Kumamoto Prefecture, and Chisso are to blame for the disease. More than 5,000 patients have applied for state recognition as Minamata disease patients, but many of them are still left unrelieved due to the criteria set by the government. - Akahata, June 5, 2007
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