In this episode of UN, a Japanese activist raises awareness about the danger to human health from chemical waste, specifically methylmercury.
Mercury and Minamata Disease: a Lesson from Japan
In the late 1950s, people and animals in the Japanese fishing village of Minamata began to fall ill to a strange disease, which mainly affects the central nervous system. In severe cases, victims fell into a coma and died within weeks.
Researchers later found that high levels of methylmercury, the most toxic form of mercury, in the industrial wastewater from a chemical factory was the cause of the disease and named it Minamata disease.
Mr. Masami Ogata lost his grandfather to the disease and his sister was born with it. 20 members of his family, including himself, have been certified as Minamata disease patients. Now working as a storyteller at the Minamata Disease Municipal Museum, he hopes that the world will learn a lesson from Minamata and never repeat the same mistake.