Synopses & Reviews
Nearly forty years after the outbreak of the "Minamata Disease," it remains one of the most horrific examples of environmental poisoning. Based on primary documents and interviews, this book describes three rounds of responses to this incidence of mercury poisoning, focusing on the efforts of its victims and their supporters, particularly the activities of grassroots movements and popular campaigns, to secure redress. George argues that Japan's postwar democracy is ad hoc, fragile, and dependent on definition through citizen action and that the redress effort is exemplary of the great changes in the second and third postwar decades that redefined democracy in Japan.
This is the first account, in any language, which covers the controversies surrounding the infamous mercury poisoning in Minamata in southern Kyushu over the time frame of ninety years, from the founding of the factory which caused the pollution, up to the settlement for compensation reached in 1995...George's monograph provides an excellent point of departure for further inquiries. Anja Osiander
About the Author
Timothy S. George is Professor of History at the University of Rhode Island.
University of Rhode Island
Table of Contents
Tables, Maps, and Figures
Note on Conventions
PART I: BACKGROUND, 1907-1955
Town, Factory, and Empire
The Factory Comes to Minamata
The Growth of Nitchitsu
Nitchitsu, Minamata, and Imperial Japan
Minamata Before the Disease
Nitchitsu and Minamata Society
Defeat, Recovery, and Boom
Minamata Politics in the 1950s
Life in Minamata in the 1950s: Hamamoto Tsuginori
PART II: THE FIRST ROUND OF RESPONSES
Discovering the Disease and Its Cause
The First Solution, 1959
The Fisherfolk's Struggle for Compensation
The Victim's Struggle for Compensation
"As Clean as River Water": The Third Leg of the "Solution"
PART III: "YEARS OF SILENCE"?
Maintaining the Solution
Change Undermines the Solution
Changes in Minamata
Changes in Japan
PART IV: THE SECOND ROUND OF RESPONSES, 1968-1973
Bringing the Issue to the Nation
An End to Solidarity: Leave It up to Others, or Sue?
Kawamoto Teruo and the Uncertified Patients
New Forms of Action and a Broadening Base of Support
In and Out of Court: The Second Solution
The Leaflet War in Minamata
Direct Negotiations in Tokyo
Defections and Confrontations
The mediation Groups and the Forgery Incident
The Trial: Proving Negligence
After the Verdict: Negiotating from a Position of Strength
PART V: SINCE 1973
Minamata and the Tragedy of Japan's "Modernity"
Remembering: Tales and Lessons of Minamata
Events Since 1973: Toward a More Complete Solution
Painfully Slow Healing
Conclusion: Minamata and Postwar Democracy
Epilogue: Restless Spirits