A Message from Minamata Bay

Saturday, August 15, 2020

To mark the 3rd anniversary of the Minamata Convention, two lifelong sufferers of the Minamata Disease raise their voices once more to call for commitment so that mercury poisoning of the magnitude experienced by those living around the Minamata Bay more than 60 years ago, will not be repeated ever again.

Ms. Shinobu Sakamoto and Mr. Koichiro Matsunaga were born along the Minamata Bay where mercury from wastewater at a local company had been discharged from some decades. Both were dramatically affected as the mercury that accumulated had entered the food stream to affect the local population, including their mothers who in turn passed the conditions for Minamata Disease during their pregnancy to their children.

Many people in Minamata, in southwest Japan, suffered, and many died, from this serious neurological disease.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury, signed in 2013 in Kumamoto, Japan, in the presence of some of these longtime sufferers and their family members, in its preamble recognises the substantial lessons learned from this environmental disaster, and calls for global action for such a tragedy never to be repeated again.

On 16 of August 2017, the Minamata Convention on Mercury entered into force. Since then, 123 Parties have ratified the Convention for joint action to make mercury history.

Today, the by now aging Ms. Sakamoto and Mr. Matsunaga are raising their voices once again to call to current and future generations so that such a tragedy is not repeated.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury Promotion Network has also sent a letter to different embassies encouraging to ratify the Convention.

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