Japan incident – In Minamata bay, mid-1950’s did people begin to notice a “strange disease”. Victims were diagnosed as having a degeneration of their nervous systems. Numbness occurred in their limbs and lips. Their speech became slurred, and their vision constricted. Some people
had serious brain damage, while others lapsed into unconsciousness or suffered from involuntary movements. Furthermore, some victims were thought to be crazy when they began to uncontrollably shout. People thought the cats were going insane when they witnessed “suicides” by the cats. Finally, birds were strangely dropping from the sky. Series of these unexplainable occurrences were bringing panic to Minamata.
Dr. Hajime Hosokawa from the Chisso Corporation Hospital, reported on May 1, 1956 that, “an unclarified disease of the central nervous system has broken out”. Dr. Hosokawa linked the fish diets to the disease, and soon investigators were promulgating that the sea was
being polluted by poisons from the Chisso Corporation where tons of mercury waste dumped into the bay and river.
Finally, in July 1959, researchers from Kumamoto University concluded that organic mercury was the cause of the “Minamata
Disease”. Dr. Hosokawa performed experiments and illustrated the affects of mercury poisoning by feeding the cats with mercury.