Voices of Patients

 On May 1, 1956, a strange disease was reported to the Minamata Health Center. Twelve years later, the Japanese government acknowledged that this disease, now known as Minamata disease, was caused by methylmercury pollution. Over a half century has passed, and those who filed the first suit are getting older. We are facing a critical situation where soon there will be no living witnesses to tell the stories.
 In addition, many TV programs and documentary films most often show images of acute and severe types of Minamata disease. Thus, people are likely to identify the disease as only having those symptoms. As for those who have suffered from a chronic Minamata disease, which cannot be recognized visually, there seems to be a lack of understanding of the actual suffered situation. Furthermore, some victims have suffered from being accused of pretending to be sick.
 Since 1995 the government has called on more victims to apply for passbooks to various aid programs a number of times, but every application period has been limited. They have been conducted with the goal of reaching a final settlement. In addition, in the opening message for the international conference of the Minamata Convention on Mercury in 2013, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe mentioned that Japanese had experienced and conquered the damages of mercury. It conveys an image to the rest of the world: Minamata issues have already been wrapped up.
 Now, we release this archival data of patients’ voices to the public. They are coastal residents of the Shiranui Sea. Some are certified as Minamata disease patients and others are not, but each story helps people to understand the actual feelings and situations of these people.

Minamata Map

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