Top Court Rejects Minamata Disease Recognition for 8 People

Society

Tokyo, March 10 (Jiji Press)--Japan's Supreme Court has rejected claims by eight plaintiffs to be recognized as sufferers of Minamata disease, or mercury poisoning caused by polluted industrial wastewater.

In a decision Tuesday, the top court's Third Petty Bench turned down the appeal by the plaintiffs against a Fukuoka High Court ruling, which rejected the claims in a damages lawsuit filed against the Japanese government, Kumamoto Prefecture and chemical maker Chisso Corp., which caused the pollution.

As a result, the high court ruling that reversed a Kumamoto District Court ruling that recognized three of them as sufferers of the disease became final.

The eight people, born in Kumamoto or neighboring Kagoshima Prefecture between 1953 and 1960, had claimed they were exposed to methylmercury pollution during the fetal stage or childhood through tainted seafood eaten by their mothers or themselves.

The plaintiffs had said they suffer from sensory impairment unique to Minamata disease, among other symptoms. The disease was formally confirmed in 1956.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press