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RTX3HBD3 
Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
Survivors from a 1950s industrial disaster in Minamata bay are a shrinking group. Their symptoms worsen with age, leaving some victims grappling with the question of who will care for them after the death of siblings and parents, while others face legal disputes. 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7YE 
September 20, 2017 
Congenital Minamata disease patient Shinobu Sakamoto, 61, and her mother Fujie sit in a car as they head... 
Minamata, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
Congenital Minamata disease patient Shinobu Sakamoto, 61, and her mother Fujie sit in a car as they head for a hospital in Minamata, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan. Sakamoto was just 15 when she left her home in the southern Japanese fishing village of Minamata to go to Stockholm and tell the world of the horrors of mercury poisoning.

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7XW 
September 20, 2017 
Shinobu Sakamoto receives rehabilitation treatment at a hospital in Minamata. Forty-five years on, she... 
Minamata, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
Shinobu Sakamoto receives rehabilitation treatment at a hospital in Minamata. Forty-five years on, she is travelling again, this time to Geneva, to attend from Sunday a gathering of signatories to the first global pact to rein in mercury pollution. Sakamoto is one of a shrinking group of survivors from a 1950s industrial disaster in which tens of thousands of people were poisoned after waste water from a chemical plant seeped into the Minamata bay.

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7YV 
September 20, 2017 
An engineer from the National Institute for Minamata Disease collects samples of seawater from Minamata... 
Minamata, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
An engineer from the National Institute for Minamata Disease collects samples of seawater from Minamata Bay to test for mercury content in Eco Park, an area once polluted by mercury-containing wastewater and later turned into a massive landfill, in Minamata. The waste contained a toxic organic compound, methylmercury, which can cause severe damage to the brain and nervous system, leading to a condition called Minamata disease. It gives its name to the U.N.-backed treaty that took effect last month.

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7Y4 
September 20, 2017 
A caretaker gives food to Yuji Kaneko at Oruge-Noa, a group care home for disabled people including Minamata... 
Minamata, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
A caretaker gives food to Yuji Kaneko at Oruge-Noa, a group care home for disabled people including Minamata disease patients, in Minamata. Kaneko was born in Minamata in 1955 and all of his family members are certified as Minamata disease patients. Symptoms worsen with age, leaving some victims grappling with the question of who will care for them after the death of siblings and parents, while others face legal disputes.

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7XZ 
September 20, 2017 
Shinobu Sakamoto speaks to middle school students about the Minamata disease in Minamata. "If I don't... 
Minamata, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
Shinobu Sakamoto speaks to middle school students about the Minamata disease in Minamata. "If I don't say something, no one will know about Minamata disease," said Sakamoto, who is one of the few born with the disease who is still able to talk. "There are still so many problems, and I want people to know."

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7YJ 
September 20, 2017 
Supporters for plaintiffs demanding to be certificated as Minamata disease patients carry legal documents... 
Kumamoto, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
Supporters for plaintiffs demanding to be certificated as Minamata disease patients carry legal documents before their trial in Kumamoto. Just 528 people survive from among the 3,000 certified victims of Minamata disease, environment ministry data shows. More than 20,000 people have sought to be designated victims, hoping for legal compensation. "We need to take seriously the fact that there are still many people raising their hands," said ministry official Koji Sasaki, referring to victims' efforts to win recognition.

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7XT 
September 20, 2017 
Jitsuko Tanaka, 64, one of the first people to be officially recognised as victims of Minamata disease,... 
Minamata, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
Jitsuko Tanaka, 64, one of the first people to be officially recognised as victims of Minamata disease, is comforted by her sister and brother-in-law at her home in Minamata. Born in a family of shipbuilders whose home overlooks the Minamata bay, Jitsuko Tanaka, 64, used to play on the beach with her older sister, picking and eating shellfish, unaware it was contaminated with mercury. She was almost three, and her sister five, when they lost the ability to move their hands freely and walk properly, becoming the first to be identified as disease sufferers.

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7XX 
September 20, 2017 
A head protector of Jitsuko Tanaka lies on her bed at her home in Minamata. Tanaka's older sister died... 
Minamata, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
A head protector of Jitsuko Tanaka lies on her bed at her home in Minamata. Tanaka's older sister died at age eight. Tanaka survived, but the poisoning left her too weak to walk without support. A few years ago, her family says, even that became impossible.

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7YW 
September 20, 2017 
The sister and brother-in-law of Jitsuko Tanaka take care of her as she lies in bed at their home in... 
Minamata, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
The sister and brother-in-law of Jitsuko Tanaka take care of her as she lies in bed at their home in Minamata. As she lay motionless in bed, her brother-in-law, a fellow sufferer, said he worried about the patients left behind when family members die. "After I die, who will take care of her?" asked Yoshio Shimoda, 69. Minamata Bay, which was polluted by wastewater containing methylmercury decades ago, is seen from the window.

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7YR 
September 20, 2017 
View of JNC Corporation, which was established in 2011 and whose proceeds help pay for compensation of... 
Minamata, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
View of JNC Corporation, which was established in 2011 and whose proceeds help pay for compensation of certified Minamata disease patients, is seen in Minamata.

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7YF 
September 20, 2017 
Hirokatsu Akagi, director of Minamata's International Mercury Laboratory, demonstrates his method of... 
Minamata, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
Hirokatsu Akagi, director of Minamata's International Mercury Laboratory, demonstrates his method of measuring mercury content in biological materials at his lab. Sixty-one years since Minamata disease was identified in 1956, the grim struggles have eased for only a few. Before the government named methylmercury as its cause in 1968, disease sufferers faced discrimination over fears it was contagious, which deterred many from seeking legal recognition.

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7YN 
September 20, 2017 
People still send in decades-old umbilical cords (shown) to be checked for contamination, hoping for... 
Tokyo, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
People still send in decades-old umbilical cords (shown) to be checked for contamination, hoping for evidence to support their claims to be designated as victims, said Hirokatsu Akagi, director of Minamata's International Mercury Laboratory.

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7YI 
September 20, 2017 
A decades-old umbilical cord, which was sent by someone who wants to have it tested for possible mercury... 
Minamata, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
A decades-old umbilical cord, which was sent by someone who wants to have it tested for possible mercury contamination, is displayed at International Mercury Laboratory in Minamata. Sakamoto, poisoned while still in the womb, considers it her duty to tell the world about the dangers of mercury. "Minamata disease isn't over; it's not a thing of the past."

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7YP 
September 20, 2017 
A stone statue at a memorial for Minamata disease victims. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
Minamata, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
A stone statue at a memorial for Minamata disease victims. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7YL 
September 20, 2017 
A specimen of mercury-contaminated fish from 1956 is displayed at Minamata Disease Information Center.... 
Minamata, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
A specimen of mercury-contaminated fish from 1956 is displayed at Minamata Disease Information Center. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7YO 
September 20, 2017 
A man fishes near Eco Park, an area once polluted by mercury-containing wastewater and later turned into... 
Minamata, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
A man fishes near Eco Park, an area once polluted by mercury-containing wastewater and later turned into a massive landfill, in Minamata. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7YT 
September 20, 2017 
A house where Kazuko Egoshita, one of the first people to be officially recognised as victims of Minamata... 
Minamata, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
A house where Kazuko Egoshita, one of the first people to be officially recognised as victims of Minamata disease, used to live stands in Minamata. Nine of eleven members of the Egoshita family were certified as Minamata disease patients and no one lives in the house now. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7Y5 
September 20, 2017 
Koichiro Matsunaga holds onto a door to stand up next to the altar for his father at his home in Minamata.... 
Minamata, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
Koichiro Matsunaga holds onto a door to stand up next to the altar for his father at his home in Minamata. Matsunaga was born in Minamata in 1963 and lost his ability to walk several years ago. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7Y6 
September 20, 2017 
A caretaker paints the hand of Kenji Nagamoto as they make a poster at Hotto Hausu, a facility for disabled... 
Minamata, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
A caretaker paints the hand of Kenji Nagamoto as they make a poster at Hotto Hausu, a facility for disabled people including Minamata disease patients. Nagamoto was born in 1959 and was certificated as a congenital Minamata disease patient in 1963. He says his physical strength declined with age due to the Minamata disease. The poster is made for Shinobu Sakamoto, who is scheduled to attend an international conference about the Minamata Treaty in Geneva. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7YH 
September 20, 2017 
Isamu Nagai high-fives a caretaker as he arrives at Oruge-Noa, a group care home for disabled people... 
Minamata, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
Isamu Nagai high-fives a caretaker as he arrives at Oruge-Noa, a group care home for disabled people including Minamata disease patients. Nagai was born in 1957 and cannot walk due to congenitally deformed legs. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7Y2 
September 20, 2017 
A caretaker pushes Isamu Nagai in a wheelchair to take him to a group care home where Nagai lives. REUTERS/Kim... 
Minamata, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
A caretaker pushes Isamu Nagai in a wheelchair to take him to a group care home where Nagai lives. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7Y0 
September 20, 2017 
Yui Tani, a long-time supporter of Minamata disease patients, helps Shinobu Sakamoto put on her shoes... 
Minamata, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
Yui Tani, a long-time supporter of Minamata disease patients, helps Shinobu Sakamoto put on her shoes as Sakamoto's mother Fujie stands in the door at their home in Minamata. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
JAPAN-MINAMATA/VICTIMS
RTX3H7XU 
September 20, 2017 
Shinobu Sakamoto speaks to middle school students about the Minamata disease in Minamata. REUTERS/Kim... 
Minamata, Japan 
The Wider Image: Japan's mercury-poison victims fight to be heard 
Shinobu Sakamoto speaks to middle school students about the Minamata disease in Minamata. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
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