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Environment Minister Apologizes for Muting Minamata Disease Victims

TOKYO, May 09 (News On Japan) - Environment Minister Shintaro Ito has issued an apology for an incident involving the adjustment of microphone levels during a meeting with Minamata disease patients and victims' groups in Kumamoto Prefecture.

During a discussion meant to listen to the patients and victims' groups on May 1st, a Ministry of the Environment official reduced the microphone volume when the speaking time exceeded. Following this issue, Minister Ito, who made an unscheduled visit to Minamata City in Kumamoto, apologized to the attendees.

Ito, Environment Minister: "An extremely regrettable incident occurred where a Ministry staff member reduced the microphone volume during a speech. I sincerely apologize from the bottom of my heart."

He also suggested that the schedule for such meetings would be reviewed going forward.

Subsequently, Minister Ito directly apologized to Shigemitsu Matsumoto (82), whose speech was interrupted, and also paid his respects to the memorial tablets of the victims, along with Matsumoto's wife, Etsuko.

Matsumoto commented, "Rather than both parties rushing to speak, I would prefer a calm environment where we can listen and speak slowly."

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida acknowledged the mishandling of the situation, which had caused discomfort among the stakeholders: "I recognize that the response was inappropriate and caused discomfort among the relevant groups."

Last night, PM Kishida criticized the Ministry's handling but stated that Minister Ito would continue in his role: "I expect Minister Ito to fulfill his duties, including proceeding with Minamata disease measures and providing careful and considerate responses to all involved."

Source: TBS

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