Donnerstag, 30. Januar 2020, 18:30 - 20:00 iCal

Methylmercury Exposure Risk Analysis

in Minamata and Adjacent Areas

Ueno Shinya

(Kumamoto University)

Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften - Japanologie, Seminarraum Jap 1
Spitalgasse 2, UniversitätsCampus Hof 2, Eingang 2.4, 1090 Wien


Minamata disease is a neurological syndrome caused by methylmercury poisoning that was first discovered in Minamata City in Kumamoto prefecture in 1956. By 2018, 2,282 victims were entitled to compensation payments by Chisso Corporation, owner of the chemical plant that had discharged the polluted industrial waste water into the bay area of the Yatsushiro Sea. In addition, the government granted free medical treatment and compensation to 10,305 patients in 1995. Another exceptional relief measure was taken in 2010 to allow 30,433 injured compensation and lifetime-free medical treatment. Even though 60 years have passed since then, activists and lawyers continue to unearth victims that so far haven’t been discovered. Currently 13 law suites against Chisso and the government are in litigation.

The cause-and-effect mechanism of how local people became sick by eating polluted fish is of crucial concern on this regard: In our research, we interviewed residents in Kumamoto and re-examined previously published research paper to analyze five issues: methylmercury pollution in the Yatsushiro Sea; probability of catching poisoned fish; fish distribution across the hinterland; fish eating habits; and health exposure risk.

Ueno Shinya has been a professor of public policies at Kumamoto University for 19 years. In his research, he has been working together with ministries, prefectural governments, municipalities and other public organizations. Present research projects are related to the Minamata disease and design of a new environmental policy for the Ministry of Environ-ment to protect nature and communities in the Aso region.


Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften/Japanologie und AAJ (Akademischer Arbeitskreis Japan)


Mag. Angela Kramer
Universität Wien
Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften - Japanologie