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2008年12月 9日 (火)

水俣病救済―二重基準の放置いつまで

2008/12/9
--The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 8(IHT/Asahi: December 9,2008)

EDITORIAL: Minamata disease

水俣病救済―二重基準の放置いつまで

Even though half a century has passed since Minamata disease was first recognized, 6,200 people are still waiting to be officially certified as suffering from the effects of mercury poisoning. The figure is an all-time high.

 水俣病が公式に確認されて半世紀がたつというのに、水俣病の患者であるかどうか、行政の結論を待ち続けている人が約6200人に達し、過去最多となってしまった。

This is because the certification councils for Minamata disease in Kagoshima, Kumamoto and Niigata prefectures are all inactive. This amounts to nothing more than administrative negligence on their part as well as the central government.

 その原因は、申請の審査を担う鹿児島、熊本、新潟3県の認定審査会が開店休業状態だからだ。政府も含めた行政の怠慢と言うほかない。

The situation in Kagoshima has remained unchanged for the past four years. A 53-year-old man, who was denied patient status by prefectural authorities during previous screening, has filed a complaint to the Environment Ministry. The ministry revoked the prefecture's decision and ordered it to re-examine the man. It said the prefecture made an evaluation error and that he may have contracted the disease as a child. The governor has agreed to re-open the certification council to reassess this single case.

 鹿児島県ではこの4年間、そんな状態が続く。その前の審査が行われていた時期に県から認定を拒まれた男性(53)が環境省に不服を申し立てた。環境省は「小児水俣病の可能性がある」として県の審査ミスを指摘。県知事の処分を取り消し、県に再審査を求めた。知事は、この男性の再審査に限って審査会を開く意向を表明した。

The problem in Kagoshima shows what an abnormal situation exists: Many people are still waiting for certification but are unable to do anything about it.

 この事例によって、結論待ちの人々が大量に残っているという異常事態がなおのことはっきりした。

The way for a resolution is clear.

 打開への道ははっきりしている。

In 2004, the Supreme Court denied the Environment Ministry's certification standards, and came up with new criteria aimed at helping a wide range of victims. The ruling led many people to apply for certification, hoping that screening standards would change. The ministry should have scrapped the 1977 certification standards as soon as the Supreme Court made its decision.

 04年に最高裁が環境省の認定基準を否定し、被害者を幅広く救済する基準を打ち出した。この判決を機に、基準が変わることを期待して認定申請者が急増した。環境省は、最高裁に否定された時点で、77年につくった認定基準をただちに改めるべきだったのだ。

However, the ministry refuses to do so on grounds it would "create new inequalities." The double standard between government and the court caused tremendous confusion among prefectures, with the result that their certification committees shut up shop.

 だが、「変えれば、新たな不公平を生む」としていまだに変えようとしない。このため、行政と司法の二つの基準に戸惑って、各県の認定審査会は停止した。

To resolve this confusion, the ruling parties' project team on Minamata disease put together a solution in October 2007. According to the plan, those diagnosed with increased numbness in their limbs would be recognized as Minamata disease victims and receive lump sum compensation of 1.5 million yen per person as well as 10,000 yen each month as a medical benefit. However, Chisso Corp., the company that caused the pollution in Kumamoto and Kagoshima prefectures and which should be footing the money for the compensation, won't have anything to do with the proposal, saying that the issue has already been resolved.

 この混乱を収めるため、水俣病問題の与党プロジェクトチームが新救済策をまとめた。手足の先になるほど感覚が鈍る障害がある人を「水俣病被害者」と位置づけ、1人あたり150万円の一時金と月額1万円の療養手当を支給するという内容だ。しかし、補償をすべき原因企業のチッソは「すでに解決済みだ」として受諾していない。

The opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) is preparing its own remedy plan which follows the Supreme Court ruling and calls for the government to initially pay the reparations and then get Chisso to refund the amount. However, submission of this bill has been postponed until after the next Lower House election.

 民主党も独自の救済案を準備している。最高裁判決に沿って症状に応じた賠償金をまず国が負担し、その後チッソに請求する案だ。しかし、法案の提出は総選挙後に先送りとなった。

This past autumn, Niigata Prefecture created an ordinance that provides medical benefits to those whom the prefecture recognizes as Minamata disease patients, without going through the screening process by the certification council. The prefecture's willingness to achieve a breakthrough is commendable.

 新潟県はこの秋、認定審査会の審査抜きで、独自に水俣病患者と認定した人に療養手当などを支給する条例をつくった。申請者が汚染魚介類を食べていれば、救済の対象基準を緩める内容だ。施行は来年春だが、現状を打開しようとする姿勢は高く評価できる。

However, Kumamoto and Kagoshima prefectures remain adamant that the ruling parties' new remedy plan must be implemented first before the certification councils start moving again. The main reason the situation has become so complicated and tangled is the "double standard." As long as things are left as they are, it seems we are out of workable solutions.

 熊本、鹿児島両県は、審査会の再開には、与党の新救済策が動き出すことが不可欠との姿勢だ。

 問題を複雑にこじれさせた主因である「二重基準」を放っておいては、手詰まり状況の打開はおぼつかない。

If the government and ruling parties are really serious about solving the Minamata disease issue, they have no choice but to review the certification standards. Without the courage to do so, the road to a complete settlement will remain long indeed.

 政府・与党が水俣病問題の解決を真剣に考えるのなら、認定基準の見直しはどうしても避けて通れない。その勇気を持たない限り、全面解決の道は遠のくばかりだ。

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