[Food Sanitation Act and Minamata Disease].

  • Nobuo Ishihara
  • Published 2016 in
    Nihon eiseigaku zasshi. Japanese journal of…


Immediately after the official recognition of Minamata disease (1956.5.l) a study group at Kumamoto University suggested that Minamata disease was caused by food poisoning. The next year, this suggestion was accepted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW). Prior to the decision to apply the Food Sanitation Act (FSA), the local government asked MHW for the application of FSA. Soon after, the chief of the Public Health Bureau replied to the local government that the application of FSA to the Minamata area was impossible. Epidemiological investigations of residents and polluted areas, therefore, were not carried out. Data essential for the screening for exposed residents were unavailable. The criteria for the screening were presented. The Environmental Agency (EA) presented the criteria in the form of notice in 1971, which were revised in 1977. Notwithstanding the clear difference between the original and revised criteria, EA insisted that these two sets of criteria were quite similar. This insistence by EA and the absence of epidemiological data on residents and polluted area resulted in the present confusion about Minamata disease. The application of FSA was stopped by bureaucrats who had no interest in the environmental problems and by several scientists patronized by stakeholders (Chisso, Japanese Association of Chemical Industries, MHW and EA). Stakeholders suppressed science.

DOI: 10.1265/jjh.71.100

Cite this paper

@article{Ishihara2016FoodSA, title={[Food Sanitation Act and Minamata Disease].}, author={Nobuo Ishihara}, journal={Nihon eiseigaku zasshi. Japanese journal of hygiene}, year={2016}, volume={71 1}, pages={100-5} }