Ex-Student Photographer Worried Youths Not Knowing “Itai-itai Disease”


Nagoya, Aug. 23 (Jiji Press)--A 72-year-old man who took pictures of the everyday lives of “itai-itai disease” patients for around four years as a student photographer has voiced concern that youths in Japan may not know about one of the country’s four major pollution-related illnesses.

With Tuesday marking the 50th anniversary of the finalization of a high court ruling that ordered the operator of Kamioka Mine in the city of Hida, Gifu Prefecture, central Japan, to pay compensation to plaintiffs including patients, Haruki Hayashi said: “Most people from young generations may not know about the disease. I fear that (the tragedy) is starting to be forgotten.”

A total of 201 people have been recognized as patients of itai-itai disease, including one who was identified Aug. 8 this year. The disease that hit people in Toyama Prefecture, north of Gifu, was caused by pollution of the Jinzu River due to cadmium, a toxic metal, released from the mine. The Japanese words itai itai can be translated as “it hurts, it hurts.”

The plaintiffs won the damages lawsuit, filed in 1968, first at Toyama District Court and then at Nagoya High Court’s Kanazawa branch in Ishikawa Prefecture, which neighbors Toyama. The ruling was finalized on Aug. 23, 1972.

The name of the disease was given as patients, including women who gave birth, experienced fractures repeatedly due to the softening of bones that resulted from the accumulation of cadmium within the body through the intake of contaminated water from the river or the consumption of rice grown using the water.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press