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About Minamata: The story of the poisoning of a city and of the people who choose to carry the burden of courage

May 1, 2006 marks the 50th anniversary since the official reporting of Minamata Disease, the methyl mercury pollution disaster caused by chemical factory waste water from the Chisso Corporation. The pollution spread through Kumamoto and Kagoshima prefectures, producing one of the worst environmental disasters in modern Japan.

A supreme court decision on October 15, 2004 ruled that the Japanese government was responsible for the spread of the pollution. Today thousands are suing in the courts for redress. To date, 2265 people have been certified as Minamata Disease victims and nearly 15,000 have applied for certification but have been rejected by government authorities. Experts say at least 20,000 to 30,000 people have been affected by the poisoning.