Four Big Pollution Diseases of Japan
The were a group of manmade disease
A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune...

s all caused by environmental pollution due to improper handling of industrial waste
Industrial waste
Industrial waste is a type of waste produced by industrial activity, such as that of factories, mills and mines. It has existed since the outset of the industrial revolution....

s by Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese corporation
A corporation is created under the laws of a state as a separate legal entity that has privileges and liabilities that are distinct from those of its members. There are many different forms of corporations, most of which are used to conduct business. Early corporations were established by charter...

s. Although some cases of these diseases occurred as early as 1912, most occurred in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.
Name of disease Cause Source Year
Minamata disease
Minamata disease
', sometimes referred to as , is a neurological syndrome caused by severe mercury poisoning. Symptoms include ataxia, numbness in the hands and feet, general muscle weakness, narrowing of the field of vision and damage to hearing and speech. In extreme cases, insanity, paralysis, coma, and death...

Mercury poisoning
Mercury poisoning
Mercury poisoning is a disease caused by exposure to mercury or its compounds. Mercury is a heavy metal occurring in several forms, all of which can produce toxic effects in high enough doses...

Chisso chemical factory
The is a Japanese chemical company. It is particularly well known as a supplier of liquid crystal used for LCD displays.Chisso is also known for its thirty-four year long contamination of the water supply in Minamata, Japan that led to thousands of deaths and victims of disease...

1932 - 1968
Niigata Minamata disease
Niigata Minamata disease
' is a neurological syndrome caused by severe mercury poisoning. Identical in symptoms to the original outbreak of Minamata disease in Kumamoto Prefecture, the second outbreak in Niigata Prefecture was confirmed with the same name in 1965...

Mercury poisoning
Mercury poisoning
Mercury poisoning is a disease caused by exposure to mercury or its compounds. Mercury is a heavy metal occurring in several forms, all of which can produce toxic effects in high enough doses...

Shōwa Electrical Works
Showa Denko
is a leading Japanese chemical engineering firm.Formed in 1939 by the merger of Nihon Electrical Industries and Showa Fertilizers, Showa Denko K.K. manufactures chemical products and industrial materials. SDK's products serve a wide array of fields ranging from heavy industry to the electronic...

Yokkaichi Asthma
Yokkaichi Asthma
Yokkaichi asthma, one of the Four Big Pollution Diseases of Japan, occurred in the city of Yokkaichi in Mie Prefecture, Japan between 1960 and 1972...

Sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide is the chemical compound with the formula . It is released by volcanoes and in various industrial processes. Since coal and petroleum often contain sulfur compounds, their combustion generates sulfur dioxide unless the sulfur compounds are removed before burning the fuel...

 and nitrogen dioxide
Nitrogen dioxide
Nitrogen dioxide is the chemical compound with the formula it is one of several nitrogen oxides. is an intermediate in the industrial synthesis of nitric acid, millions of tons of which are produced each year. This reddish-brown toxic gas has a characteristic sharp, biting odor and is a prominent...

Air pollution
Air pollution
Air pollution is the introduction of chemicals, particulate matter, or biological materials that cause harm or discomfort to humans or other living organisms, or cause damage to the natural environment or built environment, into the atmosphere....

 in Yokkaichi
Yokkaichi, Mie
is a city located in Mie, Japan.As of October 1, 2010, the city has an estimated population of 314,393. The total area is 205.53 km².The closest major city is Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture....

Itai-itai disease
Itai-itai disease
, was the documented case of mass cadmium poisoning in Toyama Prefecture, Japan, starting around 1912. The cadmium poisoning caused softening of the bones and kidney failure. The disease is named for the severe pains caused in the joints and spine. The term itai-itai disease was coined by locals...

Cadmium poisoning
Cadmium poisoning
Cadmium is an extremely toxic metal commonly found in industrial workplaces. Due to its low permissible exposure limit, overexposures may occur even in situations where trace quantities of cadmium are found. Cadmium is used extensively in electroplating, although the nature of the operation does...

Mining in Toyama Prefecture
Toyama Prefecture
is a prefecture of Japan located in the Hokuriku region on Honshū island. The capital is the city of Toyama.Toyama is the leading industrial prefecture on the Japan Sea coast, and has the industrial advantage of cheap electricity due to abundant water resources....


Due to lawsuit
A lawsuit or "suit in law" is a civil action brought in a court of law in which a plaintiff, a party who claims to have incurred loss as a result of a defendant's actions, demands a legal or equitable remedy. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint...

s, publicity
Publicity is the deliberate attempt to manage the public's perception of a subject. The subjects of publicity include people , goods and services, organizations of all kinds, and works of art or entertainment.From a marketing perspective, publicity is one component of promotion which is one...

, and other actions against the corporations responsible for the pollution, as well as the creation of the Environmental Agency
Ministry of the Environment (Japan)
The ' of Japan was formed in 2001 from the sub-cabinet level Environmental Agency established in 1971. The minister is a member of the Cabinet and is chosen by the Prime Minister, usually from the Diet., the current is Goshi Hosono...

 in 1971, increased public awareness, and changes in the practices of the responsible companies, the incidence of these diseases declined after the 1970s.

See also

  • Environmental issues in Japan
  • Toroku arsenic disease
    Toroku arsenic disease
    Toroku arsenic disease was a disease resulting from air and water pollution from a refinery at a mine at Toroku, located in Takachiho, Nishiusuki District, Miyazaki, Japan....

  • Radiation effects from Fukushima I nuclear accidents
    Radiation effects from Fukushima I nuclear accidents
    The radiation effects from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster are the results of release of radioactive isotopes from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami...

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