Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cadmium and Itai-itai

With the explosion of the story of excess levels of cadmium in the rice of Guangzhou (Link) there is talk, though only in passing, of Japan's experience with food and water-borne cadmium poisoning, which is known in the literature as Itai-itai ("It hurts! It hurts!") disease.

This is peculiar. Japanese researchers have done the lion's share of work on cadmium poisoning. Toyama Prefecture indeed has an entire museum that opened just last year dedicated to keeping alive the memory of the worst outbreak of itai-itai, which occured along the Jinzu River.

Not that many diseases with its own museum.

For afficionados of comparative politics and the functioning at various levels of the courts, regulators and democracy in East Asia, the length of the era of obscene disregard for public health in Japan -- with decades falling between identification of the cause of the disease and the final shutting down of the effluant source -- does not bode well for the future health of the Chinese people, especially in light of the close intertwining or even interchangeability of industrial and political elites in China.

Later - Yes, it would be interesting to see and hear the narratives of responsibility and blame allowed or preserved at the Toyama Prefectural Itai-itai Disease Museum. I am sure that there is a least one paper for an enterprising scholar therein.

1 comment:

kamo said...

I see your cadmium poisoning, and raise you syphilis -