Thousands of Minamata disease victims will be commemorated at a newly installed memorial in a bayside park in the city of Minamata, Kumamoto Prefecture, Sunday on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the official recognition of the disease.
Some 300 participants, including children, will pay their respect through traditional dancing and drumming in front of the 2.5-meter-high memorial and offering flowers.
A memorial service will be held there Monday, with some 1,000 people, including the patients, bereaved families as well as Environment Minister Yuriko Koike attending.
In Kumamoto, Kagoshima and Niigata prefectures, 2,955 people have been recognized as patients, of whom 2,009 have died as of the end of last March, according to the Environment Ministry.
Prior to the 50th anniversary, both lower and upper houses in the Diet adopted resolutions to vow not to allow a repeat of the tragic pollution while urging the government to fully support the victims of the disease and their families.
Minamata disease, caused by mercury-laced wastewater from a synthetic resin factory of Chisso Corp. in Minamata, was officially recognized on May 1, 1956.
More than 3,800 unrecognized sufferers have applied for recognition as patients, stirring voices that the tragedy over Minamata disease is stil