Within a year, 50000 cats in Minamata City jumped into the sea one after another to commit suicide. What did the Japanese do?

This paper takes part in the series essay competition of “great science” of Recordunkown

Everything has its own spirit. For example, the dog who looks after the house will be faithful to human beings, loyal to its master and devoted to its life. There are cats. It is often said that cats have nine lives. They are very spiritual and can protect the Dharma for human beings. Generally speaking, animals know the world better than human beings. For example, before an earthquake occurs, animals will perceive the seismic wave ahead of humans. In the 1950s, a very strange thing happened in Japan, that is, nearly 50000 cats jumped into the sea one after another to commit suicide. What is hidden behind the abnormal behavior of such a spiritual cat?

Strange phenomenon in Minamata Town: cats commit suicide by jumping into the sea!


Today’s Minamata city is the southernmost city in Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan. Around the 1950s and 1960s, it was just a small town, called Minamata town. The people living here are hardworking and simple, and most of the town residents rely on fishing for a living. The small bay is rich in marine resources, although the residents can not be rich, but self-sufficiency can completely solve the problem of food and clothing. But what is unexpected is that in the 1950s, very strange phenomena happened in small towns one after another, which made the residents of small towns panic.

First, a lot of dead fish appeared on the sea surface of the small bay, and then a lot of cats hopped and walked. This kind of posture was like dancing, swinging their bodies, walking unsteadily, and running wildly from time to time. Not only wild cats, but also domestic cats began to dance upside down. Some of them would hit the wall and drool when they were serious. Cats in small towns were possessed by something. The atmosphere of strangeness, uncertainty and terror envelops the whole town. Even in broad daylight, few residents travel, and everyone is worried.

By the beginning of the next spring, more and more cats were sick and mad, and some even chose to commit suicide by jumping into the sea. In less than a year, nearly 50000 cats died by jumping into the sea one after another. The sea surface of the small bay is occupied by the cat’s corpse in an instant. The whole scene is also breathtaking. There are many different opinions about the news that cats committed suicide in large numbers. Some people said, “this is a long time. They live by fishing and have been punished by the sea.” Others said, “this is God’s punishment for them. This place is cursed. Next time it’s human’s turn.” In short, the once beautiful and peaceful town has been completely broken, and the residents are worried about their own destiny.

Human beings also began to appear this strange phenomenon. Is it natural disaster or man-made disaster?


In 1956, in Minamata Town, a girl named Keiko Tanaka also had the same strange situation as a cat. At first, she found herself walking unsteadily, swaying, and somehow falling. Later, I felt that my body was not my own, and I couldn’t control it at all. Even I couldn’t speak clearly, and I couldn’t coordinate my hands and feet to do things.

Although she was sent to the local hospital for treatment, due to limited medical conditions, doctors were unable to diagnose why she fell ill, and eventually she died because of ineffective treatment. Because this girl has a special disease, the local hospital reported her condition to Minamata health care center. In other words, it is understood to be what we call the Health Bureau. After discussion, experts called this strange disease “Minamata disease”.

Because the doctors were helpless to deal with the disease and did not find a fundamental solution to the problem, the residents of Minamata town had to place all their hopes on God. Rumors abound, and the residents of the small town kept offering sacrifices and praying for blessings. After the upsurge of public opinion, the strange thing happened in Minamata town spread all over the Japanese Empire. Soon, the Japanese government attached great importance to it, and even formed a special investigation team to thoroughly investigate and collect evidence.


The originator turned out to be a powerful “economic pillar” chemical enterprise, which is a difficult problem of going or remaining

The researchers of the investigation team searched for evidence day and night, and carried out investigation one by one in the place where the incident happened. Finally, all the evidence collected pointed to a large-scale economic pillar enterprise near the town nitrogen fertilizer plant. It can be said that nitrogen fertilizer plant is the pioneer industry of the pillar of Japanese economy. After World War II, Japan’s economy was depressed, which was seriously affected. How can Japan’s economy grow rapidly in the short term? Chemical enterprises led by nitrogen began to rise and grow. As a chemical enterprise, the location of the plant site is very important. After detailed assessment, Minamata is rich in water resources, and it is located in the Gulf, so it has become the place where the nitrogen fertilizer plant is located.

So how do nitrogenous fertilizer plants pollute? Let cats and humans have this state of insanity? Because the earliest onset of the disease is cats, and the pathogenesis of cats is similar to that of humans, Dr. Nishikawa, a famous local doctor, specially used the waste from the nitrogenous fertilizer plant to feed different cats. In the process of the experiment, he tried to mix industrial waste water into cat food, and finally found that the cat would dance madly. During the production and operation of the chemical plant, the untreated sewage was directly discharged into the river. It is also because of the discharge of sewage, which eventually led to these tragedies.



Untreated sewage contains a large amount of “Mercury”, which is transmitted through the food chain

Water is the source of life and the foundation of all things; after the daily living water source of small town residents is polluted, the impact is very huge. Scientists extracted the sewage samples discharged into the river, and found that the main river contains a lot of mercury. Mercury, commonly known as mercury, is a natural element. It is a powerful neurotoxin, which can damage the central nervous system, cause movement disorders, birth defects and other problems. Mercury released into rivers has a great impact on human beings. There will be a lot of shrimp and fish in the river. In the spread of the food chain, not only cats will be affected, but also humans at the top of the food chain will be affected. In the long run, these animals and humans have appeared the strange phenomenon of “mercury poisoning”.



Strong pillar enterprises are the cause of disaster, and most people are against closing them down

If the nitrogenous fertilizer chemical enterprise is replaced or severely punished, the first opponent is Japan’s trade and Light Industry Bureau, because nitrogenous fertilizer company is a strong economic pillar enterprise and a strong economic backing of Japan. If it is replaced or severely punished, the result will be unimaginable. Moreover, the Japan Fisheries Federation believes that if the news is released to the public, aquatic products will be seriously affected, and fish and shrimp can not be re exported, which will drag down the local economy; while the nitrogen fertilizer company thinks that half of the residents of Minamata town work here, they are replaced or severely punished, and the income of the residents will also be affected, so they have no good life. In the face of such a strong social pressure, nitrogenous fertilizer plants will not have any impact in the short term.

In the past three years, the number of victims has been increasing day by day, unable to resist the pressure of public opinion to cover up, and the government no longer does superficial work

In the three years when the government did not thoroughly investigate the case, more and more people were suffering from Minamata disease in the small town. Some people were convulsed, some were delirious, and others were walking “ecstatic”. The incidence of Minamata disease was more and more rapid. The government could no longer wait to die, so it spent a lot of material and financial resources to treat the disease. Because of the limited medical technology at that time, Minamata disease developed rapidly, so even the patients with mild symptoms would leave sequelae after being cured, and the serious ones could not even take care of themselves. And the sequelae of the disease appeared genetic, some of the children were born with Minamata disease.


If the nitrogenous fertilizer chemical enterprises are not completely replaced, or rectified, or severely punished, the Minamata disease will continue to exist, and even the development trend will become more and more serious in the future. Thousands of people have died in this “mercury poisoning (water pollution)”, and people begin to stand up for their rights and interests, and Sue nitrogenous fertilizer chemical plants for economic compensation. The Japanese government decided not to do superficial work any more, and began to come forward to solve the problem. In 1973, an agreement was finally reached that the nitrogenous fertilizer chemical plant should compensate the town nearly 18 million yen per person! Although the compensation has been received, for the residents of the small town, the damage caused by “mercury poisoning” will be lifelong, and even through genetic inheritance, the younger generation will be affected.

Global warming has sounded the alarm of industrial civilization, environmental protection is urgent

Nowadays, the impact of global warming is increasing. It is urgent to protect the earth and prevent global warming. It has sounded the “alarm” of industrial civilization. The industrial society of all countries in the world is like a huge furnace, which is burning with the risk of “spitting fire” at any time, bringing the heat of the fire to the earth and all kinds of creatures, making the sea level rise! Antarctica is beginning to “disintegrate”. The penguins in the midst of water and fire are the first to be affected. With the rapid rise of temperature and the rapid melting of glaciers, penguins have to leave their homes and move to colder places.


Some people will say, “instead of natural gas, coal and oil, can we use solar energy and nuclear energy to stop global warming and temperature rising?” Others said: “all cars in the world should be replaced with electric energy to reduce automobile exhaust emissions. It’s better for people to ride bicycles when they travel. Everyone has the responsibility to protect the environment. Only when all countries carry out environmental protection can we save every country, including ourselves!” If we want to prevent global warming, we must prevent any form of chemical industry pollution, reduce pollution resource emissions, and even stop the corresponding chemical enterprise activities, because all industries are based on these energy consumption. In the face of increasingly serious environmental disasters, I hope that human beings can wake up from their deep sleep. The Minamata incident in Japan is a bloody lesson. We should stop lifting stones and smashing ourselves in the foot, and protect the environment from you and me.

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