Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Tag: mercury

Episode 320 – Minamata, Part 2

As the 1950s become the 1960s, the truth of Chisso’s failure to address its problems comes out thanks to a new round of poisoning on the other side of Japan. The people of Minamata seek justice for themselves.

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Sources

Minamata Disease Museum – English Site, Japanese Site

George, Timothy S. Minamata: Pollution and the Struggle for Democracy in Postwar Japan. 

Almeida, Paul and Linda B. Stearns. Political Opportunities and Local Grassroots Environmental Movements: The Case of Minamata.” Social Problems 45, No 1. (February, 1998).

Harada, Masazumi. “Environmental Contamination and Human Rights — Case of Minamata.” Industrial and Environmental Crisis Quarterly 8, No 2 (1994).

Images

Mutual Aid Society Protestors at the gates of a Chisso factory.

Participants in the 18 month sit in at Chisso HQ; so far as I know, this is the longest sit in in Japanese history.

Patients and family members of Minamata disease victims hold portraits of dead loved ones at a protest against Chisso.

The memorial at the Minamata Disease Museum today. The museum is run by the Mutual Aid Society and has excellent resources in Japanese and English.

 

 

Episode 319 – Minamata, Part 1

This week, we’re beginning a deep dive into the history of one of the most famous cases of environmental poisoning in Japanese history: Minamata disease. How did a chemical factory end up poisoning the people of a small town in rural Japan for years before anyone found out? And why, once it became clear that they were being poisoned, did it take so long for anything to come of it?

Sources

Tsuda, Toshihide et al. “Minamata Disease: Catastrophic Poisoning Due to a Failed Public Health Response.” Journal of Public Health Policy 30, No 1 (April, 2009).

Harada, Masazumi. “Environmental Contamination and Human Rights — CAse of Minamata Disease.” Industrial & Environmental Crisis Quarterly 8, No 2 (1994).

George, Timothy S. Minamata: Pollution and the Struggle for Democracy in Postwar Japan.

Images

A chart from the Ministry of Health and Welfare showing how Minamata disease was passed to humans.

Another view of the factory complex.

The Chisso factory in Minamata in its heyday. At its peak, Chisso provided 1/2 of Minamata’s tax revenue.

A map of Minamata Bay and the surrounding area. Methylmercury contamination would eventually spread around the Shiranui Sea.

Noguchi Shitagau, whose Nichitsu zaibatsu was the progenitor of Chisso.

 

 

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