The perils of mercury-poisoning are laid bare by victims of the Niigata Minamata disease who recount lingering social stigma and the importance of protecting the environment in a new book by a Tokyo publisher.
"Memories of Aga, Voices from Aga," compiled by students of Rikkyo University in Tokyo, tells the stories in Japanese of several patients suffering from Niigata Minamata disease, some of whom initially hesitated to come forward due to fears of bias. Other survivors stressed the need to preserve nature and to prevent future pollution-related tragedies.
During the two-year project, students conducted interviews with victims of the illness. Rumors of people feigning symptoms to claim compensation from the government made it more difficult for genuine sufferers to tell their stories.