Minamata Disease Claims Rejected by Japan High Court

Politics Society Lifestyle

Fukuoka, March 13 (Jiji Press)--Fukuoka High Court on Friday declined to recognize eight plaintiffs as sufferers of Minamata disease, rejecting their demand for a total of some 300 million yen in damages from the Japanese government and other defendants.

The plaintiffs plan to file an appeal with the Supreme Court. In the lawsuit, the eight members of a Minamata disease-related mutual-aid group claimed that they had been damaged by methylmercury pollution during the fetal stage or childhood. They demanded damages from the central government, Kumamoto Prefecture, southwestern Japan, and chemical maker Chisso Corp., which caused the pollution.

According to the suit, the plaintiffs were born in Kumamoto or neighboring Kagoshima Prefecture between 1953 and 1960. They claimed to have been exposed to methylmercury through the intake of polluted seafood. The plaintiffs said they suffer from sensory-impairment unique to Minamata disease, as well as headaches and dizziness.

One male plaintiff, with serious symptoms, demanded some 190 million yen in damages, while the other seven each sought 17 million yen including the minimum lump-sum payment by Chisso to recognized sufferers.

Presiding Judge Kazuto Nishii ruled that the sensory impairment is not a symptom seen only in Minamata disease sufferers and that other factors such as eating habits and family health conditions should be considered comprehensively as long as other diseases may be behind the condition.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press