General Information

Opening Hours
Tuesday-Sunday
9:00-17:00
Free admission & parking

Closed
Monday (except Holiday Mondays)
Tuesday, only when Monday is a holiday

Parking
Spaces for up to 15 buses and 272 cars
*There is disabled person’s parking space.

Address
53 Myojin Cho, Minamata City
Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan
#867-0055

TEL
0966-62-2621
FAX
0966-62-2271

Please translate into your language!
Minamata Disease Victims Memorial Service

Minamata Disease Victims Memorial Service
the Monument dedicated to Victims
In Minamata City, the Minamata Disease Victims Memorial Service is held every year on May 1st, which is the day when Minamata disease was officially recognized in 1956. The purpose of the service is to comfort the souls of the Minamata disease victims and remind us to reflect on environmental destruction. We are determined to restore the environment by all citizens praying together. The patients, the families of the victims, the Minister of the Environment, the governor of Kumamoto Prefecture, other related organizations, representatives of Chisso and many citizens attend the service to pray for the souls of those affected, to vow again to convey the lessons from Minamata disease, and to restore Minamata.

・ The first Minamata Disease Victims Memorial Service was held at the reclaimed land in Minamata Bay on May 1st, 1992.
・ The Memorial Service was held at Minamata Memorial from 1997 to 2005.  
・ Since 2006, the Memorial Service has been held in front of the Memorial cenotaph for Minamata disease victims at Water Amenity Green Area.

Prayers at Minamata Disease Victims Memorial Service
I would like to say my prayer on behalf of one of the Minamata disease victim.
Emiko, my cousin, and I were born here in Myojin, Minamata City, and grew up in a fishing family and encountered Minamata disease. When this place was a sea, we swum and gathered shells and seaweed. Both adults and children loved the sea so much.
Meanwhile, fishes in Minamata Gulf started to swim unsteadily and shells opened their mouths, and the area was pervaded by a rancid smell. This was the beginning of a strange disease. In the end, cats, birds and also healthy people were suffered by a convulsion, groaned with pain, then died.
I remember that I went fishing with my grandfather on his fishing boat when I was 4 years old and Emiko, my cousin, had just turned 2 years old. My grandfather set up a little fire and baked the fishes to let us eat. I can imagine that we little girls ate happily thinking these fishes were fresh and tasted so good. No one could tell us they were contaminated fish. I am sure my grandfather who died from a “strange disease”, this was how people called it, is watching today’s memorial service.
I was born the youngest child. My father was a fisherman too. I was a very active girl.
When I was 2 years old, I heard that I often fell and got up again and again. As my grandfather watches my movements, he started saying, “something’s wrong with Emiko.” At that time, the disease has started to affect me already. Gradually I lost my strength and I could not walk at all.
My mother carried me on her back to bring me to hospital many times. At the hospital, I got an injection on my back and it was very painful. After that, when I had to go to the hospital, I cried every time so my mother would not know what to do.
I felt uncomfortable to be called a person with “strange disease”. I entered elementary school late, because my father worried I might get bullied by other students.
My father always worried about me and wanted to protect me. I will try to do things on my own as much as I can. Also, I will take care of my mother. Father, so please rest in peace without worrying.
Every Minamata disease victim has different symptoms, but they are all growing older. I want to be together with them as much as possible and hope there will be a place for us to go.
I am working with disabled people. I hope I can live along side with them taking care of flowers.
Please stand by our side so we can live like other people to the end for our lives.
July 8th, 2009 is the day when a bill “Concerning with Special Measures for Compensation of Minamata Disease” has become a law. I was in Tokyo at the time. I felt oppressed by the government, because I think the government should compensate us even without a law. What is far worse than that is Chisso will release by law regardless of the victims. Considering feelings of my father who was died a regrettable death and other victims, this cannot be allowed.
A system which a victim has to ask, “would you certificate me as a Minamata disease patient?”, has become a huge burden on patients and citizens’ mind. These 54 years made a lot of prejudice and discrimination. If the government checked what damages had happened and dealt with it earlier, we do not have to suffer this much. The national and prefectural government, not to mention Chisso, did not deal with the damages for so long. They did not fulfill their responsibility and it remains tremendous challenge to restore. I want them to listen to each citizen’s opinion so the governments and Chisso can both understand what people really need in this area. I hope someday I can talk about Minamata disease with a smile and not as “a disgusting thing which had happened”. I hope I can say, “I’m glad many people come to this city to learn about Minamata disease”.
Many people have come to visit the Minamata Disease Municipal Museum not only within the country but also from other places of the world. What we want to say to children, as storytellers is “to cherish your life”. Minamata disease happened in such a small town where there are mountains, rivers, and sea where all creatures live. Many precious things were taken away. Also, the sea, that we loved so much, was sealed off with mercury. We will listen to the outcry of the soul once again and keep conveying until everybody can live freely in this town away from fear. We will carry on lives and hopes of sacrificed people. Please rest in peace.

May 1st, 2010
Emiko Maeda & Rimiko Yoshinaga,
Representatives of all Minamata disease victims, family members and patients


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 We visited this place before the day of the Minamata Disease Victims Memorial Service and watched the sea and its gentle waves. We saw the seaweeds waving pleasantly under the beautiful sea and breeze in a salty air into our nose. We found many young corn barnacles and fresh water mussels on the shore of the reclaimed land, and we were surprised by those little living creatures. We could not believe such a terrible disaster like Minamata Disease had broke out in the sea of Minamata about 50 years ago.
 We saw about 50 Jizo stone statues facing the sea. People call these Jizos “The Soul stones”. There are smiling Jizo, sad Jizo, angry Jizo and a Jizo with a baby in his arms. We tried to listen carefully to the Jizo one by one, so we can hear the messages from the statues. They must have said to us “Listen! Never forget the Minamata disease victims, polluted environment, and many lives killed in the sea!” “Never make such a terrible disaster like Minamata disease happen again”.
 There stands the Jizo with Eiko Sugimoto’s soul, who passed away in February, 2008. She taught us a beautiful dance “Minamata Haiya Bushi”, the values of life and the importance of peace between people.
 Even now we hear her voice saying “You have to take care of trees, because the forest links trees to the sea, and to the fishes” “You have to respect people” “You have to live with courage.” Dear Eiko, we’ve received so much strength from you. We sincerely thank you for everything. We are very proud of the dance, “Minamata Haiya Bushi”, and we will keep on dancing.
 I transferred to this school in Minamata City in Sep.2008. My father is working in Chisso now. He took me to Minamata disease museum several times to learn about the disease, which is caused by Chisso. When watching the displays, I thought that Chisso and its action on polluting methyl mercury to the ocean was wrong. I could imagine the pains of patients who have been discriminated because of Minamata disease. When I started to feel sad, my father said to me. “My company is trying not cause such a tragedy like Minamata disease to happen again, and to apply ISO 14001 for receiving”. I thanked my father for telling me the truth. I decided to learn more about Minamata disease and want to do more search learning about the truth. I think this is the only way to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.
 Ten years has passed since we started to undertake environmentally activities base on the ISO 14001 in our school. Our children’s committee also have activities on environment care, pledging (1) savie electricity and water (2) never waste food (3) never waste paper (4) reduce waste (5) be gentle to lives and plants (6) practice (1) to (5) in our families.
 We will be gentle with the earth. We will preserve our beautiful homes, just like our grandfathers and grandmothers had preserved for us.
 We love Minamata very much because its surrounded by mountains and sea. We love the gentle people in Minamata very much. We will we never risk our dearest people in Minamata again. We also really want to make a peaceful world where we can life safely. We will pledge to the Minamata disease patientas that we will make the world where people respect the lives of human beings and hope for their happiness. We will preserve our beautiful environment.

May 1st, 2009
By the representative municipal Kuzuwatari elementary school children from Minamata
Taisei Kuwahara, Tomomi Sano


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On this solemn occasion of the Memorial Service for Victims of Minamata Disease, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences for those who lost their precious lives.
Today, I am truly full of emotion to know that I am the first Prime Minister in Japan to attend this annual Memorial Service.
Visting Minamata and seeing the sea, which is so beautiful that Roka Tokutomi, a great writer in Minamata in the Meiji Era, called it "a vibrant oil painting", I cannot help but feel a deep sense of sorrow for the pollution of such a splendid place, for the serious damage to human health and for the destruction of community bonds through segregation, prejudice and discord.
It is regrettable that Minamata Disease occured not only in Kumamoto and Kagoshima but also in Niigata as a second incident of Minamata Disease. I am extremely sorry to those who passed away after a long painful struggle, their bereaved families, those who gravely suffered from friction within the community and those who continue to suffer today.
Representing the government, I accept responsibility for the failure to fully perform the duty of preventing pollution as well as the spread of Minamata Disease, and I would like to express my sincere apology once more. My visit to Minamata and attendance at today's Memorial Service have reminded me of the need of the government to fulfill its responsibility to properly compensate the victims.
On May 1, 1956, 54 years ago today, Dr. Noda of Chisso Hospital rushed to the Minamata Health Centre to report his meeting with a patient. The discovery of Minamata Disease patients in Niigata was announced on June 12, 1965.
Many people have been working hard to solve the problem of Minamata Disease in this long period of 54 years since its official acknowledgement, but some big issues still remain unsolved.
Particularly pertinent is the existence of many people who are requesting relief today. Many of them are quite old.
The Act on Special Measures Concerning Relief for Vivtims of Minamata Disease and Solution to the Problem of Minamata Disease has been enacted because of the urgent need to improve the situation.
The Cabinet, led by myself, has held a number of discussion meetings with victims groups and other people concerned to find appropriate solutions and settlements as the embodiment of the Cabinet's motto of "A politic that protects people's lives". The institution of the "Policy for Relief Measures" is the culmination of these efforts. Based on the basic idea of protecting human life, the government is determined to provide swift relief for Minamata Disease victims as much as possible.
With a flood of emotion, I would like to announce the opening of the facility to receive fresh applications for relief from today, 1st of May.
The government has also held a number of meetings with those involved in lawsuits to seek possible amicable settlement. I believe that it is a real achievement to have now reached a basic agreement for an amicable settlement with the No More Minamata plaintiffs group.
However, I have no doubt in my mind that this agreement does not put an end to the problem of Minamata Disease. Rather, I would like to think of today as being a fresh start.
What is important before anything else for a final settlement of the problem is the creation of communities in which not only the victims but also all local residents can live with peace of mind. We are determined to develop a model where passionate engagement in environmental activities leads to the development and healthy growth of local communities. For this purpose, we will be earnestly proceeding with medical care and welfare measures for fetal patients and others, health monitoring of those with health concerns and rehabilitation, more specifically the Moyai-naoshi movement, of community bonds to create a better future in collaboration with local governments. In addition, I will disseminate the lessons learned from Minamata Disease to the world.
I am determined to actively contribute to preparing an international convention aiming at preventing mercury pollution so that health damage and environmental destruction such as that caused by Minamata Disease will never be repeated in any other country. To this end, Japan would like to host the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to prepare a global legally binding instrument on mercury which will be held in January next year. Moreover, I would like to name the convention the "Minamata Convention" by hosing the Conference of Plenipotentiaries in Japan, which will be held in 2013 to adopt and sign the convention, and pledge to the world our actions to prevent mercury pollution.
What is really important is to try to ensure that the tragic experiences of Minamata Disease is not repeated.
Representing the government, I hereby pledge that we will do everything we can to achieve a pollution-free and sustainable society in which the lives of people are protected hand-in-hand with local governments, private enterprises and the people of Japan and also to preserve a richly blessed natural environment to pass on to the next generations.
Finally, I would like to give my heartfelt prayers for those who have lost their lives as victims of Minamata Disease.
May 1, 2010
Yukio Hatoyama
Prime Minister of Japan

(This is an provisional translation)


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 On this Minamata disease victims memorial day, I sincerely pay for the souls of victims who passed away because of Minamata disease, and hope their souls rest in peace.
 The Chisso chemical factory in Minamata is the founding base of Chisso, and we aim to be a company that produces essential necessities for the public. We have been supported by the people in Minamata, and have made our way together with them from last century. In a long history in Minamata, we have overcome many difficulties with the support of Minamata citizen’s help.
 However we caused Minamata disease by releasing methyl mercury with the waste water from our factory. We caused Minamata disease, and had troubled with this whole area. As the president of Chisso, I am very sorry and I deeply regret that the incident had happened. Again, I would like to make my sincere apology to the victims, and to the souls of victims who had passed away. Our supreme goal is to make compensations for victims.
 Since last fall, our company had been hit badly by the depression, which happens once in hundred years. Our sales and profits has been cut down 50% compare to before. There had been difficulties with our finance and management. To overcome this difficult situation we have to make a firmer footing on our business and raise our profits. In bitter competitions between the global businesses, it does not seem easy. However, we will try harder to overcome the difficulties, in order to make complete compensations for the victims and to take the responsibility for contributing to the regional economy in Minamata.
 With the painful experiences in mind, we will always take environment into consideration, and support Minamata city to build a “Eco Model City”.
 Again I pledge, as the president of Chisso, that we will keep on praying for the victims who had passed away, and I thank the people in Minamata, Kumamaoto prefecture and all Japanese people for supporting us.
These are my sincere praying words. Thank you.

May 1st, 2009
Chisso Co.Ltd.
Shunkichi Goto,
Chisso President

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Mayor Yoshii Masazumi's speech
 On this, the occasion of the Minamata Disease Victims Memorial Service, I would like to offer a prayer of condolence for the souls of the departed and for the many precious lives sacrificed to Minamata disease. I would also like to express my deepest thanks, to all those who have honored us with their presence today, firstly; the families' of the deceased, also the patients, members of the Environment Agency, members of the Diet, the governor of Kumamoto Prefecture, the speaker of the prefectural assembly, and finally; representatives of concerned cities and towns, and the many citizens of Minamata here.
 With the outbreak of Minamata disease, sufferers were placed in the most tragic of circumstances : many died in agony, others were forced to live with a body they could no longer freely control. Compounded with baseless slander, prejudice and discrimination, their torment was not only of the body, but also of the mind. This suffering goes beyond description. Trying to imagine the feelings of the bereaved, a lump forms in my throat. When I look back on the horrifying events of those days, even considering the efforts made to help the patients, I cannot help thinking, "Did we really fulfill our duty?", "We could have done this.", "We should have done that." I recollect that the city of Minamata established The Minamata Unknown Disease Research Committee, and the Meisuien (special accommodation, treatment and rehabilitation center), to assist the patients as much as possible, but I know that we watched helplessly as the patients, citizens of Minamata, suffered. Further, more I feel, regretfully, that had we handled the situation differently, there may perhaps be fewer people still suffering now. For the sake of the victims of Minamata disease I am deeply sorry that we did not do better. I hope that you will forgive us, recognizing our commitment to health, welfare and the environment, and our efforts to develop Minamata as a city which greatly values these things, based on the experiences and lessons of Minamata disease.
 Added to the health damage of Minamata disease, there was another tragedy in Minamata, since the assailant and the victims were part of the same small community. The public was morally enraged, and sincerely sympathized with the situations of the patients and their families. However, some, dependent on "Chisso", feared that if the factory were bankrupted, they would lose their livelihoods, and business people feared that they too become bankrupt. Undeniably, people were confused, and horrified at the foreseeable consequences of economic destruction and social disruption. Both the victims and those unaffected by the disease were forced to consider contradictory problems at the same time. Their interpretations of the situation and the positions they took caused complicated arguments and emotions. Therefore, Minamata became a nightmare of disruption. Except for those in the movement requesting the national and prefectural governments to support "Chisso" for their livelihoods, Minamata City, and the citizens too, largely became passive concerning Minamata disease issues. As the cause of Minamata disease became increasingly apparent, they depended more upon the national and prefectural governments.
 There was no one reason for this. Much of it was caused by the limitation of the municipal government's authority and role in the resolution of Minamata disease issues. There was also the fear of slander, criticism, discrimination, and confrontation. Although a majority of the citizens were and are very much aware that Minamata's restoration depends on overcoming Minamata disease, close to forty years have passed while we all wonder about what to do and how to achieve it. This has been one of the big reasons for the citizens not reaching agreement about Minamata disease issues, thus delaying resolution until today and causing the stagnation of Minamata. There will be no future for Minamata unless we all stand together to overcome this problem that caused us the greatest misery of all time. Before we broadcast what we have learned here to people all over the world, we must create a new regional culture, overcoming this misery and building a society based on an unprecedented sense of human's value, otherwise the pain and the anger will remain with us forever. All of us, who have lived through the Minamata disease incident, have found out the importance of environment, and the difficulties involved, as well as the effort required, in the preservation of our health. That is why we have the responsibility of setting a new standard for environmental policy based on the philosophy, "health and the environment have the highest priority", and must assist in preventing people from committing foolish acts and destroying the global environment. It is vital that we strive to relieve the victims of Minamata disease.
 It is also important that we engage in the task of restoration. We must change the reclaimed land of Minamata Bay, a compensation for victims of Minamata disease, into a proud treasure to leave behind for the next generation, to retrieve the environment that was once lost, and mend the hearts of citizens by restoring their sense of solidarity and their pride and joy in living in Minamata. I notice that some citizens have begun expressing their feelings toward each other by saying, "I'm sorry. I didn't know. It must have been very hard for you", and others who reply, saying "It must have been difficult for you, too." In the midst of confusion and insecurity, some citizens have joined together to place here a stone statue symbolizing their wish for all citizens to start afresh. For those who passed away, so that they may rest in peace, we pledge that from this day forth, we shall reunite and overcome many difficulties of Minamata disease issues, through the understanding that "One must enlighten oneself and respect others" taught in the "Wa of Rakan" (a saying in Buddhism). We will live with the understanding that we, mankind, are a part of nature, and we are sustained by nature. Therefore, we will respect every plant and animal that lives and dies, and will live in a symbiotic relationship with nature and that understand we must exist in harmony. We will continue to appeal to people in Japan and all over the world, so that no one will experience the tragedy of Minamata disease again. I sincerely believe that this will be the best consolation for the departed souls. In closing on my ceremonial address, I would like to pray for the victims families' prosperity, and for the victims' eternal peace.

on the Minamata disease victims memorial service day, May 1st, 1994
Masazumi Yoshii, Mayor of Minamata City

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