We are Soshisha, an NGO working in Minamata
History of Soshisha
Before the Establishment
On 1972, it became promising that the patients win on the lawsuit against Chisso. However, the victims could not be so happy; even if they won at the lawsuit, they might lose their place in the community as Chisso has been very important existing for the city economy. Young patients, especially fetal patients, were concerned for their futures since it was difficult to find a place to work for them. Supporters from all over the country donated to establish a "supporting center" for patients and their family.
Sosisha, as a Supporting Center for the Victims
Minamata Disease Supporting center was therefore established and started its activities on April, 1974. People named the center "Soshisha", meaning "caring each other" in Japanese. The building of Minamata Disease Museum today, was originally mushroom factory, where the patients and their supporters worked together.
Then, Soshisha had an important role for number of lawsuits, negotiations to Chisso. In a mean time, Soshisha offered medical treatment for the victims, and organized an orange farmers association. Many fishermen including the victims and their family decided to harvest oranges during the time could not catch fishes because of pollution. Soshisha also sold organic fertilizer for farmers.
Establishment of Minamata Disease Museum
Later, the main focus of Soshisha activities changed from supporting the victims to raising awareness of Minamata disease. The mushroom factory was renewed for museum at 1988, to remaining sins of Minamata disease, and to question the existing society. The exhibition is mostly consisted from items and documents Soshisha had kept.
Also, we published books, organized an archive for huge amount of documents.
Our Activity today
Now, Soshisha is a place where various people visit throughout the year such as tourists, students, and researchers. We offer a field tour and support for environmental study for individuals and for groups. Soshisha manages Minamata Disease Museum, document archives and has accommodation for visitors.
Although our activities are mostly supported by donation, we also sell organic products such as tea and oranges. Because of Minamata disease, many farmers now use fewer chemicals keeping in mind the health of both the consumers and the farmers. We also collaborate with other organizations such as universities and governmental organizations.