50th anniversary of Minamata disease

The Japanese city that gave its name to Minamata disease held a ceremony Monday to mark 50 years since the neurological disorder caused by mercury poisoning was first diagnosed. City officials laid flowers at a monument dedicated to those who have died of the disease since it was officially recognized on May 1, 1956, in Minamata on Japan's main island of Kyushu, said Mitsuru Ichigosaki who is overseeing the event.

Mainichi has more on what is regarded as Japan's worst industrial disaster:

Despite the terrifying effects of the poisoning, Chisso continued to dump mercury in the bay until 1970. Victims' advocates say the poisoning was much more widespread than the government admits.

In a statement Friday, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi expressed regret at the government's failure to stop the disaster and pledged to protect the environment. Chisso's chairman, Shunichi Goto, attended Monday's ceremony, along with Environment Minister Yuriko Koike and the mayor of Minamata, Katsuaki Miyamoto.


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