• Kyodo


The Niigata Prefectural Government unveiled an outline Friday of its own rescue package for unrecognized sufferers of the decades-old Niigata mercury poisoning, similar to Minamata disease in Kumamoto Prefecture.

In 1965, residents along the Agano River in Niigata Prefecture were poisoned by mercury-tainted wastewater released by Showa Denko K.K. Because of the poisoning’s similar symptoms to Minamata disease, the Niigata version is called No. 2 Minamata disease.

To date, nearly 700 people have been recognized by the government as victims of the Niigata mercury poisoning. But there are more than 1,000 unrecognized sufferers.

The package is intended to provide relief benefits to sufferers who have failed to win the central government’s recognition as Minamata disease patients due to its strict criteria.

The outline says, “There are many unrecognized patients who cannot receive sufficient compensation and have fallen victim to prejudice and defamation,” allowing the prefecture to grant recognition as Minamata disease patients at its discretion.

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