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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 May 9 - 15  > Minamata disease patients protest against Chisso president’s abusive remark
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2018 May 9 - 15 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Minamata disease patients protest against Chisso president’s abusive remark

May 3, 9 and 10, 2018

Minamata disease patients on May 9 protested against the Chisso Corp president’s remark that sounded as if the company now should be exempted from making compensation payments to sufferers of the disease.

Minamata disease was caused by organic mercury discharged from a Chisso plant in Kumamoto’s Minamata City into the local bay.

Chisso President Goto Shunkichi on May 1 attended a ceremony held to console the spirits of the pollution victims. After the ceremony which took place in Minamata, he said to the press, “The company’s measures for the relief of sufferers based on the special law on Minamata disease have been completed.” The law stipulates that the completion of the measures enables the company to start a process for ending its responsibility to pay compensation. On the same occasion, Goto suggested that this responsibility hinders the company’s economic activities.

A group of Minamata disease patients and their supporters on May 9 visited Chisso’s local office in Minamata City. They handed over a statement which demands that President Goto retract his statement and resign. They criticized his abusive remark for disregarding the ongoing suffering of Minamata disease patients.

In response, a Chisso official said, “The president should have been more precise in choosing words. The company has the responsibility to offer compensation to sufferers.”

On the previous day, Japanese Communist Party members of the House of Councilors Ichida Tadayoshi, Nihi Sohei, and Takeda Ryosuke met with Environment Minister Nakagawa Masaharu, demanding that the ministry instruct President Goto to retract his controversial remark. Saying that there are many people who have yet to receive compensation from Chisso, the lawmakers stated that the ministry should make sure that Chisso fulfills its responsibility until all the victims are provided with proper relief measures.

The three are members of the JCP committee on the Minamata disease problem.

Ichida said, “Goto’s remark rubbed the patients and their families the wrong way. It was totally inappropriate for the head of the polluter company. The ministry should direct him to retract the remark.”

Environment Minister Nakagawa said that at present, the situation does not allow the special law-based relief measures to be ended. He added, “Chisso needs to be more aware of its legal responsibility.”

Past related articles:
> Entry into force of Minamata Convention first step toward creating world without victims of mercury poisoning [August 24, 2017]
> Doctors: gov’t should widen criteria for recipients of Minamata disease relief measures [October 15, 2016]

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