Minamata Treaty on Mercury Regulation Takes Effect (News)
Tokyo, Aug. 16 (Jiji Press)—The Minamata Convention on Mercury, a landmark international treaty designed to regulate the use and trading of the poisonous material, went into effect on Wednesday.
Under the treaty, signatories will also take stronger measures against health hazards from mercury, which is still used chiefly for mining gold in developing countries.
A total of 74 signatories, including China, the world's biggest emitter of mercury, have ratified the convention by Monday, according to Japan's Environment Ministry. It was adopted unanimously at a U.N. meeting held in the city of Kumamoto, the capital of Kumamoto Prefecture, southwestern Japan, in October 2013.
The convention was named after the city of Minamata in the prefecture. Methylmercury-tainted wastewater from a plant of chemical maker Nippon Chisso Hiryo K.K., now Chisso Corp., in the city caused Minamata disease, a neurological disorder, affecting a number of local residents.
A similar neurological disease was caused by wastewater containing methylmercury from a Showa Denko K.K. plant in what is now the town of Aga in Niigata Prefecture, central Japan.[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]