The 3rd International Forum on Environmental Pollution and Social Impacts —Applying the Lessons Learned from Minamata Disease and its Mistakes to the Future-
Objective: Circumstances and purpose
62 years have passed since the first official recognition of Minamata disease.
For the human race, it was the first experience with a disease caused by man-made industrial environmental contamination whose effects were transferred to the next generation.
The Minamata disease incident had a critical impact in wide range of domains including politics, economics, the court system, society and popular culture. Moreover, in the areas of Minamata and Niigata, the sufferers have not recovered and many of their problems still continue to be unaddressed and remain unsolved.
In 2000, Kumamoto Gakuen University launched a research project for Minamata Studies formed around Dr. Masazumi Harada. The research project has promoted viewing the Minamata incident from various perspectives, disseminating the Minamata lessons to the rest of the world, and carrying on research that could leave some lesson on the future.
In April 2005, the Open Research Center for Minamata Studies at Kumamoto Gakuen University was established, with offices located both within the University and in Minamata. Since then, the center has conducted a number of studies, surveys, research projects and educational activities. In addition, the center has promoted international exchange activities and oversea research studies on environmental pollution in locations including Canada, Thailand, Korea, and Taiwan.
In the summer of 2006, the Center held an international form, “What are the lessons from 50 years of Minamata Disease?” and inquired questions to the people in and out of the world. Since then, Japan experienced disasters of East Japan Great Earthquake and Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident. While in the rest of the world, many issues of contamination and environmental destruction happened, and local residents’ movements and sufferers’ protests are on-going in each affected area.
We plan the 3rd international forum in 2019. The 3rd international forum is not only shared by specialists, but it is participated by sufferers, researchers, NGO/NPO, and supporters in the affected countries/areas. The forum is to provide opportunity of discussion to the people from suffers’ point of view, basing fairness and justice.
The agenda will center around the following three topics:
- Look into how people inside and outside Japan have utilized the lessons from the disaster of Minamata disease or whether the lessons have been actually applied or not.
- Review the areas around the world that suffer from environmental pollution and lead to similar problems and discuss the issues raised. Share the picture of environmental rehabilitation promoted in each place, and promote mutual understanding while finding out each challenge.
- Offer views for the future, through an enriched mutual understanding of what is now happening in various parts of the world, and discuss what should be done so as to apply the lessons of Minamata and evaluate useful strategies.
International Forum in Kumamoto Gakuen University
(February 22nd)Contents: Report from Japan Key Lecture
Prof. Kenichi Miyamoto (Professor Emeritus of Osaka City University)
Current situation of environmental problems in Japan and challenges(tentative)
(Open Research Center for Minamata Studies)
Learning lessons from mistakes of Minamata Disease (tentative)
Report and presentation from Japan and abroad
Each speaker from each country and area is asked to file a report regarding the following subjects at the committee beforehand. Presentations in the forum are expected to be based on these reports.
Current situation and efforts
Main Issue: Minamata disease as mirror
1) Overall picture of the damage: the occurrence and the spread, the compensation and the litigation
2) Cleaning the environmental pollution, the rehabilitation of damages
3) From current reality to the future prospect
Feb. 24 Report and discussion
Session is planned to be small sized and enough time for discussion is provided.
The main issues for discussion are site-visit in Minamata, interaction and exchange opinions with Minamata disease sufferers, and the message for the future.