The social problems plaguing the Islands surrounding the Shiranui sea 70 years after the onset of the Minamata Disease still remain. One of the takeaway lessons from the Minamata Disease saga is that pollution is not merely just an environmental issue. Stopping the discharge of pollutants into the Minamata Bay could have been done swiftly by the industry. However, the choice to favor economic benefit over health issues resulted not only in huge environmental problems but social conflicts and issues of discrimination. Idealistically, in order to work towards sustainable development, industrial pollution should be avoided in its entirety. This is however, not possible especially in the case of developing countries. As a commemoration of the adverse impact of the Minamata Disease, the Minamata city government marks every 1st of May as a commemoration day. In the recent years, the government has actively rewarded environmental activists (local and abroad) and promoted environmental clean-up programs. Minamata city now has Japan’s most comprehensive recycling program with 22 different ways of classifying garbage. The city has also been selected as Japan’s greenest city in the recent years. These steps help to classify the city in a positive light which could not only throw off the past shadow of the Minamata Disease saga but help the populace look towards better tomorrows.
- MinamataDisease – Its History and Lessons, 2007, Minamata City.
Author: Joanne Khew; Contributors: Mahdi Ikhlayel, Heng Yi Teah, Angeli Guadalupe