Recently I have read the following book. The main points in chapters five and six are:
Book title: George, Timothy. 2001. Minamata: Pollution and the Struggle for Democracy in Postwar
Japan Cambridge, Mass.:
Press. Harvard University
Ch. 5.Citizen’s Council for Minamata Disease Countermeasure was established in January 1968. This organization signaled the beginning of a period of experimentation with new forms of social citizenship and in citizen-corporation-state relationship (p.125).
- certified Minamata diseases patients received payment from Shin Nitchitsu under the December 1959 solatium agreement, but the money was far from enough to support those who had no other income.(p.144)
- the most heartrending development during these “years of silence” was the confirmation that many children born with cerebral palsy and other problems in fact had a congenital form of Minamata disease.(p.149).
Ch.6 .in the mid-1960s, it was by no means seemed that pressures were building towards an explosion. Patients and fishermen were being compensated according to the pattern set up in 1959. Yet changes were taking place in Minamata and
that would inaugurate a second round (in 1968) of responses to Minamata
disease. (p.154) Japan
- in 1958 almost no average citizens of Minamata showed or acted on any feeling of sympathy for the disease victim, few residents took the side of the patients. (p.154) Yet due to the action of a few people, the history on Minamata took a new direction. One of them was Akasaki Satoru, he was a city employee working as liaison between patients and the city government in driving patients to the hospital and bringing university doctors to the patients’ home. (p.155)
- another one was Ishimure Michiko who was the most important person in the movement on behalf of Minamata disease patients. As a writer she had developed a distinctive writing style, she presented the experience of common people. (p.155). She worked with people outside Minamata, one of them was photographer Kuwabara Shisei, and organized photo exhibition for this photographer in order to spread the message of the disease.(p.157).
-another outsider was Harada Masazumi of the Kumamoto university medical school who was interested in learning more about the disease and had written a few books on the disease. (p.158) Ui Jun was another outsider whose commitment to the disease even it had harmed his own careers in the academia; he was graduated from the University of Tokyo. (p.160)
- Ui Jun discovered Dr. Hosokawa’s cat experiments and the latter told Ui to disclose this experiment to Ishimure. Through group effort, Ui published an annotated collection of documents on the story of the Minamata story. An abbreviated version was published in July 1968. (p.161) His book inspired others to be active on behalf of the disease victims. Ui became an assistant at the University of Tokyo in 1965.
- in the early and mid-1960s, the weakening of Shin Nitchitsu and its bitter splits with both the union and much of the city removed some of the constrains on those in Minamata who might wish to join Ishimure and Akasaki in activism. (p.162)
The Goi plant (in Chiba near Tokyo) that was run by Chisso Sekiyu Kagaku (Chisso Petrochemical) was under construction in 1962 and put into production in 1963. (p.163)
- strikes in the city in 1962-63 caused a split in the union, between the original union and the new second union. The most interesting group to appear during the strike was the Minamata Cultural Collective (established in 1962) which included Ishimure Michiko, Akasaki Saoru and Matsumoto Tsutomu. These three would become the founder and the core of the Citizen’s Council for Minamata Disease Countermeasures in January 1968. (p.167)
- Minamata disease and its victims might well have remained unheard and forgotten without the catalyzing effect of the Niigata pollution outbreak. Niigata Minamata disease was caused by a factory owned by Showa Denko at Canoes on the Agno River. A few scientists including Ui Jun, Hosokawa and Harada rushed to Niigata after the disease was discovered in June 1965. (p.175) They set up a support network for the victims who sued the company in 1967 and won the case in 1971. (p.176)
(to be continued)