The Minamata Studies project started after approval of the board of KGU (Kumamoto Gakuen University). The Open Research Center was set up in April 2005 and the On-site Research Center in August 2005. Though the Minamata incident is well-known around the world as a representative of pollution-related disease in Japan, as a negative legacy the incident should be conveyed well at home as well as abroad. Therefore, creating such databases has been recognized as one of the focal tasks of the Minamata Studies project.
The Center houses various documents including those from private residences around the affected areas, materials related to lawsuits, materials related to the fisheries cooperative association, the Minamata Disease Study Group materials, documents contributed by the Shin-Nihon Chisso Labor Union, a union of the Chisso Corporation, as well as materials collected by the researchers of different fields. The Center has promoted the creation of databases for these materials and has posted them on the Center’s website as they have been catalogued. Since 2009, the documents of the Shin-Nihon Chisso Labor Union have been released through the On-site Research Center, while the inventory of all other documents is being recorded for the publication.
In addition, an extensive database of the research literature related to Minamata disease across a broad range of academic studies has been created. Databases such as histories of public disruption and the Minamata disease incident are expected to contribute considerably to future studies at home and overseas.
As for browsing the above databases and documents, please read DATABASE and Reference Room Usage Guide.
This labor union, initially set up by Chisso Corporation, later provided assistance for the victims of Minamata disease, despite being related to the company, which is a particularly notable action in the history of Japanese labor movements. The union’s documents were donated in April 2005 and were organized by union members together with the Center. They are stored in open library stacks and available to the public. Regarding the photos, descriptions which including the location, date, and the people and objects pictured have been recorded on each card, and recorded for both inventory and data.
The databases here are the inventories of those documents. In November 2009, the first inventory was made available to the public and later the photo and related goods data was added. Finally, “The Film Chronicle of the History of Shin-Nihon Chisso Labor Union” was released. The history was divided into six eras. Clicking on an icon of each era, you can browse the related photos and their explanations. Moreover, the short films with sound that the Union had stored and edited are available for viewing.
The materials include approximately 6225 documents, 63,600 photos, and 533 objects
The group was established to help the victims of Minamata disease file lawsuits against Chisso Corporation and has taken a leading role in compiling and publishing “The Collection of Materials on the Minamata Disease Incident.” The group has continued to work on a second collection. The related documents about the group are stored in open library stacks at the Open Research Center for Minamata Studies, on the 2nd floor of the University’s Building No.7. The second collection is not yet available to the public; however, since August 2013, an inventory and approximately 100 photographic records which have been processed to protect the privacy of individuals are on the Center’s home page.
The total number of the documents: 2,0340
Nobuo Miyazawa(1935-2012) was an announcer of NHK: Japan Broadcasting Corporation, and later became a visiting researcher of the Center. Since his job assignment was in Kumamoto, he started news gathering activities regarding Minamata disease. He continued to study the Minamata disease incident as a member of Minamata Disease Study Group and also as a member of The Association to Indict [Those Responsible for] Minamata Disease, Minamata-byo o Kokuhatsusuru Kai, which is instrumental in raising awareness for Minamata disease and supporting the victims. He supported lawsuits of the patients and their activities until his death. His materials have been stored in open library stacks at the Open Research Center for Minamata Studies, on the 2nd floor of the University’s Building No.7. The inventory has been available on the center’s home page since December 2013. A request form to view those materials should be submitted in advance.
The total number of the documents: 962
Satoru Saishu was a teaching assistant of the Faculty of Arts of Tokyo University and worked for Wako University from 2003 -2007 as a professor in the department of human relations. He was a member of the first Shiranui Academic Investigation Team and he was in charge of the second team. He obtained the primary documents such as the Shiranui Sea fishermen’s diaries and was able to depict the changes of fishing methods and portraits of the fishermen vividly. His materials have been stored at the Open Research Center for Minamata Studies. The inventory has been available on the home page since December 2013. A request form to view those materials should be submitted in advance.
The total number of the documents: 318
Tsuginori Hamamoto was a fisherman in Minamata city, and a certified Minamata disease patient. He joined the first Minamata Disease Lawsuit in 1969. He also took part in various international activities including the first global environmental conference (the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm) and visiting the places where native Canadians have suffered from Minamata disease. He has been a storyteller of Minamata disease based on his experiences. His story appears in the book, Detsuki-shiki: Hamamoto Tsuginori Katari (the private record in Dezuki by Tsuginori Hamamoto) edited by Satoru Saishu and published by Shinyosha in 1989. His materials are stored in the reference room in the Open Research Center for Minamata Studies located in Building No. 7 in Kumamoto Gakuen University. A list of the materials has been released on our HP’s database section since Jan. 2015. The materials can be seen after turning in a request form to view materials beforehand.
The number of documents: 133, materials as goods: 20
The followings are materials that are currently being catalogued for inventory.
- Masazumi Harada’s materials (donated by the owner)
- Tsutomu Matsumoto’s materials (donated by the owner)
- Materials of Masao Fukuda, a lawyer, related to the Kansai Lawsuit
- Materials of The Nagoya Association to Indict [Those Responsible for] Minamata Disease, Nagoya Minamata-byo o Kokuhatsusuru Kai
- Materials of Hidekazu Dohi, a former professor of Kumamoto Gakuen University
- Materials of the Minamata Teachers and Staff Union