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» Minamata victims protest against the restart of Sendai Nuclear plant

MINAMATA, Kumamoto Prefecture–Minamata disease victims and supporters have joined the protest against the restart of nuclear reactors in Kumamoto Prefecture, saying safety again is taking a back seat in the drive for economic growth.

“If they miss the danger of nuclear plants because of economic priorities, they have not learned the lessons from Minamata disease,” said Koichiro Matsunaga, who heads the group “Stop restarting nuclear plants Minamata.”

Formed in September by eight members, including three Minamata disease patients, the group plans to collaborate with local organizations to oppose the resumption of operations at the Sendai nuclear power plant in Satsuma-Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture.

Kagoshima Governor Yuichiro Ito on Nov. 7 approved the plant’s restart, the first such green light under stricter safety standards that were established following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011.

The city of Minamata is about 40 kilometers from the plant at the shortest distance.

Minamata disease, a sometimes fatal neurological disorder that causes numbness and vision problems, was officially recognized as a health hazard 58 years ago. Caused by consumption of marine products contaminated by mercury discharged into the sea by a chemical factory, the disease remains a negative symbol of Japan’s period of high economic growth.

Matsunaga said he sees similarities between the Sendai plant’s restart and Minamata disease.

“While human lives should take priority, the priority has been placed on corporate profits,” Matsunaga said. “(The government) has not learned lessons from Minamata and Fukushima.

<Media Report>
Minamata disease group opposes restart of Sendai nuclear plant (Asahi Newspaper)

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