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水俣病救済合意 長年の争いに幕を引く時だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jul. 3, 2009)
水俣病救済合意 長年の争いに幕を引く時だ(7月3日付・読売社説)
Time to end the battles over Minamata disease

Fifty-three years have passed since the Minamata mercury poisonings were officially confirmed. The disease's victims are aging, and it is high time to put an end to the years of dispute surrounding Minamata disease, which is seen as the starting point for environmental pollution cases in this country.
 公式確認から53年が経過した。被害者の高齢化も進んでいる。公害の原点である水俣病問題は、長年の争いに終止符を打つべき時にきている。

The ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito and the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan reached an agreement Thursday to amend a bill to offer financial relief to people who have yet to be recognized as Minamata disease sufferers, paving the way for the bill to be passed during the current Diet session.
 水俣病未認定患者の救済法案について、与党の自民、公明両党と民主党が修正合意し、今国会で成立の見通しとなった。

Both the ruling and opposition blocs made concessions over the range of victims entitled to the proposed compensation plan. Given the necessity of providing relief measures to unrecognized sufferers as early as possible, the agreement is a great step forward.
 被害者の救済範囲などで、双方が歩み寄った。被害者の早期救済が必要であることを考えれば、大きな成果を得たといえよう。

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Chisso's burden

Under the major pillars of the proposed relief package, Chisso Corp., which caused the disease by releasing mercury-laced waste water from its factory, will offer lump-sum payments to people who were not recognized under state criteria as Minamata disease sufferers. In the case of Niigata Minamata disease, a similar disease that occurred in Niigata Prefecture, Showa Denko K.K., which has been held responsible, is expected to make payments. The central government, for its part, will provide medical expenses for sufferers.
 国の認定基準では水俣病と認められなかった被害者に対し、原因企業のチッソ(新潟水俣病は昭和電工)が一時金を支払う。国は被害者に医療費を支給する。これらが救済策の主な内容だ。

We urge lawmakers to quickly agree on the amount of the lump-sum payments to ensure the money gets to the victims.
 一時金の額を速やかに決め、確実に実施してもらいたい。

To be recognized by the state as Minamata disease sufferer, a person is required to be diagnosed as suffering from two or more symptoms, such as numbness in feet and arms, and impaired muscle coordination. However, sufferers will be entitled to the new relief measures as long as they have developed any one of the listed symptoms, including numbness in the arms and feet, systematic sensory impairment or sensory disorders around the mouth.
 水俣病と認定されるには、手足のしびれや運動失調など、複数の症状の組み合わせが必要となる。これに対し、今回の救済策は、手足や全身のしびれ、口の周囲の感覚障害などのいずれかの症状があれば対象となる。

The relief measures are designed to expand the scope of victims as broadly as possible. More than 30,000 people are likely to be subject to the new agreement.
 可能な限り被害者を救済する内容で、3万人以上が該当する可能性があるという。

The bill also incorporates a plan to divide Chisso into two entities. The company, which currently is faring well thanks to its liquid crystal material production, will be split into one unit for business operations and another unit for compensating victims. Gains made on sales of the business section's listed stocks are expected to be used to pay compensation to sufferers.
 法案には、チッソの分社化も盛り込んだ。液晶生産などで業績好調なチッソを事業会社と補償会社に分離し、事業会社の株式の売却益を補償などに充てる計画だ。

Chisso seems to be trying to escape its image as a company responsible for pollution. However, the primary responsibility for such environmental degradation lies with the company that caused it. Whatever changes are made to Chisso's corporate structure, the firm must continue to bear the burden of steadily providing compensation to victims.
 チッソには、公害企業からの脱却という思惑があるとみられるが、公害の一義的な責任が原因企業にあることは、言うまでもない。会社の形態がどのように変わっても、チッソは、水俣病の補償を滞りなく進めていく義務がある。

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Opinion still divided

In 1995, the Cabinet of then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama endorsed a political settlement, formulating a relief package that covered more than 10,000 unrecognized patients.
 水俣病問題を巡っては、1995年に村山内閣が1万人余の未認定患者を対象にした救済策をまとめ、政治決着が図られた。

However, the dispute was reignited following a 2004 Supreme Court ruling on a collective lawsuit filed by victims based in the Kansai region. The nation's top court acknowledged people with a wider range of symptoms as Minamata disease victims than the government's standards.
 だが、2004年の関西水俣病訴訟の最高裁判決により、問題が再燃した。最高裁が、国の認定基準よりも幅広く未認定患者を水俣病と認めたためだった。

The Supreme Court ruling was followed by a series of applications by victims seeking recognition and the filing of lawsuits, making it necessary to offer a new relief program.
判決後、認定申請や提訴が相次ぎ、新たな救済策が必要となった。

Because of strict criteria for recognizing Minamata disease sufferers, different lines have been drawn to define who is a victim, including people recognized by the central government, those who accepted the 1995 relief package without being officially recognized by the government, individuals who were recognized as sufferers by the top court, and people expected to be subject to the new legislation.
 認定患者、95年の救済策を受け入れた未認定患者、裁判所が水俣病と認めた人、さらに、今回の救済策の対象者。認定基準が厳しいため、被害者が幾重にも線引きされた。

The complexity concerning sufferer recognition could be said to have delayed settlement of the issue.
その複雑な構図が水俣病問題の解決を遅らせたといえる。

Opinions among Minamata disease sufferers are divided over whether they should accept the proposed legislation. While some were positive, saying they would finally be able to get financial relief, others expressed discontent, saying lawmakers are not listening to them.
 「やっと救済される」「被害者の声を聞いていない」。救済策を受け入れるかどうか、被害者の反応は割れている。

The response of victims will be the key to determining whether the proposed legislation will finally settle the long-standing dispute.
今回の救済策が最終決着となるかどうかは、被害者側の対応がカギを握る。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 3, 2009)
(2009年7月3日01時49分 読売新聞)
[PR]

by kiyoshimat | 2009-07-03 08:13 | 英字新聞

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