Japan Economic Newswire
MINAMATA, Japan, May 1_(Kyodo)
KEY EVENTS RELATED TO MINAMATA DISEASE
August 1908 — Chisso Corp. starts operations at its factory in Minamata, Kumamoto Prefecture.
May 1932 — Chisso starts producing acetaldehyde at the Minamata factory.
May 1956 — A local health center in Minamata receives a report about four patients suffering unexplained encephalopathy, which became known as Minamata disease.
Feb. 1963 — Kumamoto University researchers conclude the disease was caused by methylmercury.
June 1965 — Another organic mercury poisoning case involving a different company is detected in Niigata Prefecture, in the second occurrence of Minamata disease.
May 1968 — Chisso stops producing acetaldehyde.
Sept. 1968 — The state designates Minamata disease as a pollution-triggered disease caused by a methylmercury compound from Chisso’s factory.
June 1969 — A group of Minamata disease patients files the first damages suit against Chisso with the Kumamoto District Court.
March 1973 — The plaintiffs at the Kumamoto District Court win the damages suit.
July 1995 — Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama apologizes for the delay in providing relief to the Minamata disease patients.
Oct. 1995 — Five patients groups decide to accept the so-called political settlement proposal, under which uncertified patients each received a 2.6 million yen lump sum and allowances.
Oct. 2004 — The Supreme Court makes the first judgment recognizing the government had responsibility for preventing the spread of Minamata disease, ordering the state and Kumamoto Prefecture to pay a total of 71.5 million yen in compensation to 37 patients. The ruling also let stand a lower court decision that set forth less restrictive criteria than the state’s in recognizing the disease.
Oct. 2005 — A group of uncertified Minamata disease patients in Kumamoto and Kagoshima prefectures file a damages suit with the Kumamoto District Court against the state, Kumamoto Prefecture and Chisso, demanding 8.5 million yen in compensation each.
May 2006 — The city of Minamata marks the 50th anniversary of the official recognition of Minamata disease.