Kumamoto Pref. to recognize deceased woman as Minamata patient

The Kumamoto prefectural government will certify a deceased woman as a patient of the Minamata mercury-poisoning disease by dropping its appeal over a lawsuit filed by her, Kumamoto Gov. Ikuo Kabashima said Thursday.

The woman, who was born in Minamata, Kumamoto, and lived in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, before her death in March at 87, filed the suit to seek official recognition as a Minamata disease patient.

The Osaka District Court ruled in favor of her in 2010, but the prefectural government appealed it.

Kabashima told a press conference the local government has decided to drop the appeal to finalize the initial ruling. "I apologize (to her and her family) from the bottom of my heart that we have caused tremendous trouble for a long period of time," he said.

The move came after the Supreme Court posthumously recognized another deceased woman as a patient of the mercury-poisoning disease last month, prompting the prefectural government to follow the decision.