Delegates pay tribute at Japan's mercury poison site
TOKYO (AFP) - Delegates from around the world paid tribute on Wednesday to the hundreds of Japanese who were killed by decades-long mercury dumping as they gathered at the site of the country's worst industrial poisoning.
Representatives from 140 countries and territories laid flowers at a monument to the dead at Minamata in southern Japan, before signing an international treaty on Thursday to control the use of the toxic metal.
The Minamata Convention on Mercury is named after the Japanese city where tens of thousands were made ill - around 2,000 of whom have since died - by eating fish and shellfish taken from waters polluted by discharge from a local factory.
The scandal first came to light in the 1950s, but it was not until more than 50 years later that the state fully recognised the extent of the problem.