Health & Chemicals

Minamata Disease The History and Measures - Chapter 6

6. Conclusion

Environmental pollution by toxic substances results in serious damage such as health damage and destruction of the living environment.
In the case of Minamata Disease, the agreement was concluded between patients groups and the companies, and as to the suits they were concluded by compromise between plaintiffs and the companies, and by withdrawing of plaintiffs between the nation and plaintiffs, so social troubles get fewer. But in the areas where the disease occurred, certificated patients are still suffering from symptoms, and the situation is that anxieties about health among inhabitants are not yet got rid of.
From this instance of Minamata Disease Japan has learned such lessons as the activities that give priority to economic goals but lack proper attention to the environment do various and serious damages such as health damage, and as it is not easy to recover from the damage later on. From the economic standpoint, it is clear that these activities are not economic choice because the measures against these damages take a large amount of cost and a great deal of time in comparison with the cost of the case that such measures as occurrence of the pollution is prevented could be taken.
In Japan, with the experience of disastrous damage by pollution including Minamata Disease issues as a turning point, measures to protect the environment have made dramatic progress, but the sacrifices incurred on the way were very huge. We hope that it will be realized again how consideration to the environment is important and that efforts will be made to prevent environmental pollution without a experience of disastrous pollution, making such experience in Japan as a lesson, in other countries.

Table 4. Comparison of the Cost of Damage Created by Minamata Disease in the Area Around Minamata Bay to the Cost of Pollution and Control Measure
(Source: "Nihon no Kogai Keiken"Japan's Experience with Pollution, 1991)
Cost for Pollution Control and Prevention Measures1) 123,000,000 yen/year
Damage amount 12,631,000,000 yen/year
Breakdown: Health damage2) 7,671,000,000 yen/year
Environmental pollution damage3) 4,271,000,000 yen/year
Fishery damage4) 689,000,000 yen/year
1) Yearly average paid by Chisso Co.,Ltd., in the from of investments to prevent pollution damage.
2) Yearly average of compensation benefits paid to patients under the Compensation Agreement, etc.
3) Yearly average amount of expenditure for dredging work in Minamata Bay.
4) Compensation paid to the fishery industry computed as equal redemption of principal and interest prorated as yearly payment.