Emperor, Empress make 1st visit to Minamata
Jiji Press -- Oct 28
Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited Minamata in Kumamoto Prefecture for the first time ever on Sunday, offering flowers to the monument to Minamata disease victims and talking with patients of the disease caused by the exposure to dumped mercury more than a half century ago.

Built in 2006 to mark the 50th anniversary of the government's official recognition of Minamata disease, the monument contains a name list of 375 people who died of the pollution disease.

The imperial couple visited the Minamata Disease Municipal Museum to watch exhibits and met with Masami Ogata, 55, head of a group of Minamata disease storytellers, to listen to stories about struggles sufferers of the mercury poisoning had before winning official certification as victims of the pollution caused by chemical maker Chisso Corp.

熊本県を訪問中の天皇皇后両陛下は、初めて水俣市に入り、水俣病慰霊の碑に花を手向け­られた。 両陛下が水俣市を訪問されるのは初めてのことで、水俣病慰霊の碑を訪れ、花を手向けら­れた。

News sources: Jiji Press, FNNnewsCH
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