Tuesday, 11 May 2010


Today, 4 July 1970, they call you as a witness. You wonder if this new generation will ever understand the struggle it was creating the prosperous Japan that is theirs; the sacrifice it took.

But what happened at Minimata sits heavily on your soul. From your hospital bed, you speak the truth after all these years. You are dying of cancer, the Chisso Company can do nothing to you now.

You tell the court how Japan needed to industrialise. With such little farmable land and a growing population, it had to increase productivity. The Chisso Factory opened in 1908 making fertilisers, bringing prosperity to Minimata. When acetaldehyde production began no one knew the toxic waste would slowly build up in the bay. After you became director of the factory hospital, fish began to die, cats went mad. You analysed them and found mercury poisoning, but the factory forced your silence.

Soon people became ill, you witnessed terrible suffering; thousands died. The community shunned victims, fearing for their jobs. The Chisso Company opened a purification plant, though they knew it would not work against mercury.

For twelve years, Hajime Hosokawa, you watched the agony unfold, until today. Your testimony will swing the case, triggering the largest settlements in Japanese history.