• Kyodo


An 81-year-old woman filed a lawsuit Wednesday with the Osaka District Court demanding the central and Kumamoto prefectural governments recognize her as a Minamata disease victim, her lawyers said.

The plaintiff also plans to demand that authorities revise the criteria for recognizing her, because her claim was rejected in March despite a favorable Supreme Court ruling in 2004, they said.

The Supreme Court upheld an Osaka High Court ruling that offered a scope of recognition wider than the government’s Minamata criteria.

But the central government has not changed the criteria.

Those recognized as having Minamata disease — mercury poisoning from industrial contamination — are eligible to receive a 16 million yen to 18 million yen in a one-time allowance and a pension under a law that went into force in 1974.

About 3,000 people have been recognized, but many others have been rejected under strict criteria.

The woman, now living in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, was born in Minamata, Kumamoto Prefecture, and moved to Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, in 1971, they said.

She applied for recognition as a Minamata disease sufferer with the Kumamoto Prefectural Government in 1978. That application was rejected in 1980.

Her appeal to have the case reviewed by a government inquiry panel in 1981 was turned down in March this year.

She then filed another lawsuit in 1988, which she won in October 2004.

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the official recognition of Minamata disease caused by Chisso Corp.

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