• SHARE

The first thing Koichi Hirota noticed about Komatsu Hoshiyama was that he could not walk in a straight line. As the young neurologist proceeded with his examination in the cramped, sparse ward inside Niigata University Hospital, other symptoms became apparent: The 55-year-old Hoshiyama’s body tingled from head to toe, a condition referred to as paresthesia; he could hardly speak and the words he was able to utter gave the impression he was hard of hearing; his field of vision was severely limited, “like he was peering through two sticks of bamboo.”

More tellingly, tests on samples of his hair revealed mercury levels of 763 parts per million — 763 times higher than the maximum acceptable amount stipulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Unable to view this article?

This could be due to a conflict with your ad-blocking or security software.

Please add japantimes.co.jp and piano.io to your list of allowed sites.

If this does not resolve the issue or you are unable to add the domains to your allowlist, please see out this support page.

We humbly apologize for the inconvenience.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

PHOTO GALLERY (CLICK TO ENLARGE)