Talk:Minamata disease

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Suggested merger[edit]

Two articles have been recommended to merge to this page. Japanese democracy and Minamata Tokyo negotiation. They have a great deal of overlapping information. They are not well formatted for Wikipedia and they are not linked in with other articles. I believe the content of these articles will be best discussed in this article. Can someone familiar with the topic take on the task? Thanks. Rossami (talk) 01:51, 8 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I can lend a helping hand. --Viriditas | Talk 02:14, 8 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Merge complete, although the article itself still needs work. --Viriditas | Talk 02:58, 8 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Quotes moved to wikiquote. --Viriditas | Talk 03:20, 8 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Second case of Minamata disease[edit]

There was a second case of Minamata disease in Aga-machi, Niigata Prefecture in 1964, caused by a Showa Denko factory. Further details are available (in Japanese) at ja:第二水俣病. Physchim62 15:19, 26 October 2005 (UTC)

Grassy Narrows[edit]

Awhile ago I was watching a programme on History Television about Minamata Disease. I'd heard of the disease before but had only thought it isolated to Japan. The documentary though discussed evidence of Minamata disease (although not as great in scale) in the residents of Grassy Narrows back in the 1970s. Apparently a pulp-and-paper mill upstream was pouring mercury into the English River-Wabigoon River system. As Grassy Narrow's economy was heavily dependent on the fishing industry, there was little that could be done to stop residents from eating contamintated fish. If I recall correctly, our government did little to aid Grassy Narrows. I believe they acknowledged methyl mercury poisoning but not Minamata disease itself.

There is a reference to this in the Dryden, Ontario article so it seems this is a necessary edit to ensure Wikipedia's continuity.

I think that both the case above, from Niigata, and the case from Grassy Narrows should be included as case studies here. I do not know much about the Niigata incident but there is little info on the Grassy Narrows case. I can see if I can find the documentary I watched and try and locate some sources, but I think some consensus needs to be reached before we add these two cases?Ben Webber 21:41, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

There were several papers written by Glass & Sorensen in the 1990's regarding methylmercury levels in Minnesota lakes. If I come across them and the references of other articles they used (which includes articles on the Minamata Bay clean-up, the Niigata dumping and the Grassy Narrows), I will add more to this article. I remember translating a Japanese article into English for Dr. Gary Glass and John Sorensen, and I was bewildered at the imagery the paper described of the reported suiciding cats. Of course, what was happening was the the cats at Minamata Bay were eating the methylmercury-laden fish and would go into convulsions from the mercury poisoning while walking along the wall-tops, giving the appearance of cats committing suicide. In addition, there was paper on a Swedish study on the survivors of accute murcury poisoning in Iraq when then Iraqi president Saddam Hussein had directed medical studies on this one village. I do believe the Swedish researchers also described the Iraqis with severe mercury poisoning as having "Minamata Disease." CJLippert 22:35, 5 July 2006 (UTC)


Deletion[edit]

Removed this section because it repeats and overlaps with other sections: Bobo12345 05:42, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

=== Mercury poisoning ===
The physicians were shocked at the high mortality rate for the new illness: it was found that thirteen other people, including those from small fishing villages near Minamata, had died with the same symptoms; local domestic animals and birds showed similar symptoms. It was found that a common factor of all the victims is that they all ate large quantities of fish from Minamata Bay. Researchers from Kumamoto University came to the conclusion that the malady was not a sickness, but rather poisoning by toxic substances. It became clear that the poisonings were linked to a production facility in Minamata making acetaldehyde and PVC, a type of plastic, owned by the Chisso Corporation, a hydro-electric power company that produced chemical fertilizers. Speaking publicly against the company was forbidden as it was a significant employer in the city. Eventually, the medical research team reached the tentative conclusion that the deaths were caused by mercury poisoning through the consumption of contaminated fish and shellfish; mercury was being used by the Chisso complex as a reaction catalyst. The company disposed of its industrial wastes in the sea, thus polluting the water with mercury.

Cyclator in 1956?[edit]

Could someone check the date of the cyclator installation? Surely, if it was installed in response to the pollution, then 1956 is a typo? Ewen 06:42, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

It was indeed a typo. 1959 is right. Thanks for the correction. Bobo12345 06:07, 9 October 2006 (UTC)

Second outbreak[edit]

Since the article is getting a bit long, I moved the content of the Second outbreak section to a new article in its own right: Niigata Minamata disease. Bobo12345 11:40, 9 October 2006 (UTC)

2 million people claim[edit]

Until I can find a proper reference for the following claim I'm going to remove it from the article.

"It is speculated that over 2 million people may have eaten fish contaminated with mercury from the Chisso factory."
and
"The potential scale of the environmental disaster is illustrated in research from 2001, which speculates that as many as two million people living around the Yatsushiro Sea may have been affected by eating contaminated fish."

The 2001 research is mentioned in a few articles ([1] and [2]) but I can't find the original source, let alone an English version. Bobo12345 13:16, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

Uncertified patients section rewrite[edit]

While I rewrite this section, I'm moving the old content to the Talk page:

The first wave of compensations, settled in 1959, could not be maintained as new cases of Minamata disease began to appear. These victims and their families were not included in the original settlement with Chisso and therefore did not receive the same compensation as those diagnosed before the original solution. So the newly diagnosed families began the quest to receive comparable compensation for their disabilities. One group chose to sue Chisso and therefore go to trial for their compensation; another group sought direct negotiations with the executives of Chisso.
These direct negotiations in Tokyo were exhausting. On December 8, Kawamoto, a leader in the direct negotiations group, began by asking Shimada, a Chisso executive, to pledge in their blood to come to an agreement and treat each other as human beings. Shimada refused. The negotiations lasted through much of the night, ending with Shimada collapsing and being taken to the hospital. The Minamata patients were told to go home, and when Shimada was able to negotiate again, he would do so in Minamata. However, the patients remained in the Chisso headquarters. By December 25, only two patients remained in Tokyo, Kawamoto and Sato. Chisso Executive Director Kuga, approached them and asked them to take some money and buy tickets back to Minamata. Kawamoto and Sato refused unless Chisso agreed to direct negotiations. They were thrown out to the unsightly tented settlement outside the building.
After this, protests and speeches by the patients took place outside the Chisso office building. Media coverage was great and many journalists took the side of the Minamata victims. Patients were shown in wheelchairs at the protests and in newspapers. However, the stalemate remained.
Patients and sympathizers marched on the downtown offices of Chisso and attempted to march as far as the president’s office. They were met with iron bars blocking the door to the Chisso floor of the Tokyo Building. The patients used the bars to their advantages by building memorials to the people who had already died of Minamata disease.
Because of the mass of media coverage, the Japanese Communist and Socialist parties began to more openly support the sufferers of Minamata disease along with the Sōhyō labour federation. The attention of the media and political party officials allowed Minamata disease to become a widely known problem in Japan and because the minority population of Minamata disease sufferers then had a voice, it then allowed Japanese democracy to develop to a new level. Also, due to this open support by opposing parties, and the call from the labour union for Chisso to negotiate, the Japanese government stepped into action with the Director General of the Environmental Agency (Oishi Buichi) asking to be allowed to mediate the negotiations.
Also around this time, Governor Sawada Issei came to Tokyo to help in overcoming the impasse of negotiations. Sawada and Oishi both met with the patients, Kawamoto and Sato, and also with Shimada, who had returned from the hospital. Both parties agreed to mediate negotiations through Sawada and Oishi.
As the negotiations began, the patients opposed a settlement mirroring the first solution. They wanted not only equal and sufficient compensation but also public acceptance by Chisso of responsibility for the Minamata disease.
During these negotiations and also talks of a compensation advance, 29 more patients were diagnosed with Minamata disease. These patients were more cooperative with Chisso and agreed to accept the low compensation of $570 each. This caused a split between the newly diagnosed families. It also took away much of the leverage the direct negotiation group had and gave Chisso an advantage. The division between the Tokyo group and the Minamata group brought up hard feelings. Those in Minamata had continued to work, while the protesters in Tokyo had received financial support from backers in Tokyo. Many of those in Minamata were facing continued discrimination, but also were being threatened of losing their jobs if they continued with the negotiations. Only four people ultimately decided to drop the negotiations.
The patients reduced their demands to close to what the first settlement between Chisso and the original Minamata victims had been. However, Chisso still refused because of the lack of a ranking system for the severity of illness. Then the negotiations were officially suspended, owing to Chisso’s unwavering stance.
Finally, the March verdict affirming Chisso's negligence gave the direct-negotiation patients grounds to reach agreements. After days of negotiation, Chisso agreed to pay $66,000 for deceased patients who were included in the group of newly diagnosed patients. This opened the door for the other newly diagnosed patients to be included in the trial settlement. Finally, on July 9, 1973, through the work of the new Environment Agency Director Miki, an agreement was reached. This proposal included the compensations based on ranking severity of symptoms, but also payments to the patients per year to cover living expenses, and payment of all medical expenses. The government also provides medical examinations for people living in the affected area. These compensations and actions are considered inadequate by many. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Bobo12345 (talkcontribs) 02:43, 20 January 2007 (UTC).

Staple diet was shellfish and cats[edit]

"The staple food of victims was invariably fish and shellfish from Minamata Bay and the cats in the local area,..." Did they really eat cats or is this two separate thoughts? If the latter, please break it into two sentences. Wikipedia != comedy central. :P 66.139.239.116 16:29, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

Ah yes. The sentence was a bit poorly phrased! I've corrected it now. Thanks, Bobo12345 00:52, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

K2O, MgO[edit]

The company's own tests revealed that its wastewater contained more than ten poisonous substances including lead, mercury, manganese, arsenic, selenium, thallium, copper, magnesium oxide and potassium oxide.
Potassium and Magnesium oxides are not posonous. They are essential elements and nontoxic even in larger doses. --Malbi 17:34, 7 February 2007 (UTC)


The company's own tests revealed that its wastewater contained more than ten poisonous substances including lead, mercury, manganese, arsenic, selenium, thallium, copper.


I am not sure that it is helpful to describe all of these elements as poisonous substances. While there is no question that compounds composed of elements may bring about adverse health effects in people exposed to them at high enough levels (depending in part on the chemical compounds involved), several of them are also essential trace elements e.g. deficiency in selenium and copper exist. I would suggest rewording to

The company's own tests revealed that is wastewater contained many heavy metals in concentrations sufficiently high to bring about serious environmental degradation including lead, mercury, manganese, arsenic, selenium, thallium and copper.

If someone comes up with a better rewording, please just bear in mind Paracelsus - "All things are poison and nothing is without poison, only the dose permits something not to be poisonous." Jimjamjak 13:59, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

I made the change as you suggested. Hopefully that should clear up any confusion. Thanks! Bobo12345 09:43, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

Split History from Disease[edit]

I have been tracking down duplicate ICD codes that appear in disease templates. "Minimata disease" is a medical synonym for Methylmercury poisoning, 985.0. The clinical aspects of the disease should be merged with Mercury poisoning, and this page should focus on the history, with "For the clinical disease, see Mercury poisoning" at the top. This page could then drop the infobox, and the ICD9 code would be present on only one page (as it should be) Tiki2099 19:05, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

Lead Image[edit]

I've been a frequent proponent against the removal of images due to their perceive vulgarity by other users. The lead image of this article, however, I find greatly disturbing myself, to the point that I was made too uncomfortable to read the through the lead section and still feel slightly nauseous now. I not about to unilaterally demand that it be changed, moved, or removed, but figured I'd open a discussion on the topic. --jwandersTalk 14:39, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

Fair enough. I find the image very disturbing, but after reading the article, I don't find it inappropriate in context. I'd say it should stay. Sometimes it's fully appropriate for a disturbing image to be associated with a disturbing topic. 71.196.232.95 (talk) 01:38, 27 October 2009 (UTC)

Replace the black and white photos[edit]

Almost every photo on this page is black and white, which to me smells like someone trying to manipulate emotions instead of just getting the facts across. I dont think emotional manipulation should be something that wikipedia does. -OOPSIE- 22:23, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

Or they could be photographs taken when colour photography was rare. Look at the dates. --Escape Orbit (Talk) 22:32, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia policy is to assume good faith by other editors unless there is "strong evidence to the contrary". What evidence do you have that the editor who put up the black-and-white photographs did so in bad faith?
I see nothing wrong in the photographs being black-and-white, and I'm not aware of any Wikipedia policy or guideline discriminating against black-and-white photographs. It is hardly surprising the photographs are black-and-white since black-and-white photography was still very common in Japan even until the 1970s.--Neparis 23:42, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
Eugene Smith's photos of Minamata were probably never intended to be objective news pictures - one glance at the rest of the photo essay illustrates Smith's emotional connection to the story and the people involved. According to W. Eugene Smith: Photographs 1934-1975 (1998, ed. Gilles Mora, John T. Hill) "Smith became so identified with these unfortunate people's plight that he was set upon by Chisso employees in an encounter with some of the victims, and badly beaten up." In any case these are documentary photographs (user -OOPSIE- is welcome to submit their color pix), and black and white is how Smith took them. Interesting that b&w is now perceived as editorial, when until the seventies it was probably the most common format, certainly for news photos. - Rapscallion (talk) 16:32, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
It is, and always has been a myth and a misunderstanding that objectivity in reporting means disregarding emotions. This is especially true in all forms of journalism, including photography. The emotional element, particularly of the subject, has always been a key component, and every "great" story has it. The irony is obvious; to forcibly discard the emotional elements, the pain, the suffering, the compassion, is in effect, a subjective and biased decision. As someone once said, it is what it is. Viriditas (talk) 12:36, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

I believe the photos should be removed because when Eugene Smith passed away, the copyright to his photos passed to his wife, who turned the photos over to the Uemura family. The picture of the deformed hand is of Tomoko Uemura, who died many years ago, and now that her family has the copyright, they have withdrawn the right to publish the photos. Therefore, they should be removed. Jrhoadley (talk) 21:38, 28 November 2011 (UTC)

USD Conversions[edit]

I found the USD conversions of the various payments confusing. Are they conversions at the time of the payment or using present day figures? Do they need to be in the article at all? Icd (talk) 05:19, 10 October 2008 (UTC)

They seem to be contemporaneus (reflecting exchange rates at the time) but even then those US dollar figures and not inflation adjusted, so they don't always reflect the true costs involved. The Japanese yen was not nearly as strong vs. the US dollar as it is now. To be honest I think the most useful figure would be inflation-adjusted US dollars but the contemporaneous exchange rates are better than the raw figures in non-adjusted yen. 71.196.232.95 (talk) 01:36, 27 October 2009 (UTC)

Yutaka Egashira[edit]

As the firm's president he was involved with the settlement of lawsuits. He was the maternal grandfather of Masako Owada, she ist his heiress. And she married the heir to the Japanese Chrysanthemum Throne... http://www.benhills.com/articles/articles/JPN42a.html --217.232.100.246 (talk) 02:49, 16 April 2009 (UTC)

Shimada Ken'ichi Apology Video[edit]

Shimada Ken'ichi Apology Video

Where can I find the full video of Chisso's president Shimada Ken'ichi kneeling and apologizing before the victims on March 22, 1973?

Here's the small clip I could find: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXoDtPuB3Qo#t=02m32s

XP1 (talk) 06:29, 2 May 2010 (UTC)

File:Minamata Chisso Industrial Waste.jpg Nominated for speedy Deletion[edit]

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Proposed merger[edit]

Just to note that I removed the merger tag from the article suggesting a merger with Mad hatter disease. Both mad hatter disease and Minamata disease are examples of mercury poisoning but I can't see the value in the Minamata disease article mentioning mad hatter disease. The person who originally tagged the article also didn't provide a reason on the talk page prior to tagging. Bobo12345 (talk) 06:21, 22 March 2012 (UTC)

Naming the Industrial Process Will Help Understanding[edit]

In the "1908-1955" section, second paragraph, it states "The chemical reaction used to produce the acetaldehyde used mercury sulfate as a catalyst." It would be an improvement to provide the name of this process (if it exists), to understand clearly if this is the "Wacker process" mentioned in the Wiki article on acetaldehyde (see "Production" section). Based on the wording, I think it is *not* the same, but expert knowledge is needed here. Dan Aquinas (talk) 17:33, 24 June 2013 (UTC)

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