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Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath by William Eugene Smith - Inspirational Story behind a Photo

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Protestors at the gates of the Chisso factory: Minamata disease is caused by severe mercury poisoning. It was first discovered in Minamata city in Kumamoto prefecture in 1956. It was caused by the release of methylmercury in the industrial wastewater from the Chisso Corporation's chemical factory, which continued from 1932 to 1968. While deaths continued for 36 years, the government and company did little to prevent the pollution. In 2004, Chisso was ordered to clean up its contamination.

Protestors at the gates of the Chisso factory: Minamata disease is caused by severe mercury poisoning. It was first discovered in Minamata city in Kumamoto prefecture in 1956. It was caused by the release of methylmercury in the industrial wastewater from the Chisso Corporation's chemical factory, which continued from 1932 to 1968. While deaths continued for 36 years, the government and company did little to prevent the pollution. In 2004, Chisso was ordered to clean up its contamination.

Minamata disease is a neurological syndrome caused by severe mercury poisoning. Symptoms include ataxia, numbness in the hands and feet, general muscle weakness, narrowing of the field of vision, and damage to hearing and speech. In extreme cases, insanity, paralysis, coma, and death follow within weeks of the onset of symptoms. A congenital form of the disease can also affect foetuses in the womb.

Minamata disease is a neurological syndrome caused by severe mercury poisoning. Symptoms include ataxia, numbness in the hands and feet, general muscle weakness, narrowing of the field of vision, and damage to hearing and speech. In extreme cases, insanity, paralysis, coma, and death follow within weeks of the onset of symptoms. A congenital form of the disease can also affect foetuses in the womb.

JAPAN. Minamata. Takak ISAYAMA, a 12 year old fetal (congenital) victim of the Minamata Disease, with her mother. 1971.

JAPAN. Minamata. Takak ISAYAMA, a 12 year old fetal (congenital) victim of the Minamata Disease, with her mother. 1971.

The Four Big Pollution Diseases of Japan were a group of manmade diseases all caused by environmental pollution due to improper handling of industrial wastes by Japanese corporations. Although some cases of these diseases occurred as early as 1912, most occurred in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Minamata disease: Mercury poisoning, 1932-68; Niigata Minamata disease: Mercury poisoning, 1965; Yokkaichi Asthma: Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, 1961; Itai-itai disease: Cadmium poisoning,1912.

The Four Big Pollution Diseases of Japan were a group of manmade diseases all caused by environmental pollution due to improper handling of industrial wastes by Japanese corporations. Although some cases of these diseases occurred as early as 1912, most occurred in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Minamata disease: Mercury poisoning, 1932-68; Niigata Minamata disease: Mercury poisoning, 1965; Yokkaichi Asthma: Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, 1961; Itai-itai disease: Cadmium poisoning,1912.

Ishimure Michiko and Global Ecocriticism: Acknowledging Minamata disease…

Ishimure Michiko and Global Ecocriticism: Acknowledging Minamata disease…

Tomoko in Her Bath, Mother and daughter with Minamata Disease, Japan, 1971. Photographed by W. Eugene Smith.

Tomoko in Her Bath, Mother and daughter with Minamata Disease, Japan, 1971. Photographed by W. Eugene Smith.

People stand over the frozen fish freezers at markets, sorting through ‘the wild caught’ Pacific versus farmed Atlantic salmon and tuna fillets. Often they don’t know exactly why, can’t recognize the term Minamata disease, nor identify a single symptom of severe human mercury

People stand over the frozen fish freezers at markets, sorting through ‘the wild caught’ Pacific versus farmed Atlantic salmon and tuna fillets. Often they don’t know exactly why, can’t recognize the term Minamata disease, nor identify a single symptom of severe human mercury

Takeshi Ishikawa/Polaris Jitsuko Tanaka, who had Minamata disease, dressed in a kimono for Coming of Age Day, a Japanese holiday in which 19- and 20-year-olds are recognized as adults. 1973.

Revisiting Minamata, and a Storied Mentor

Takeshi Ishikawa/Polaris Jitsuko Tanaka, who had Minamata disease, dressed in a kimono for Coming of Age Day, a Japanese holiday in which 19- and 20-year-olds are recognized as adults. 1973.

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