In response to severe pollution and health damage, the residents of Nishiyodogawa formed organizations to eliminate pollution and to fight for the rights of victims. In their campaign they were the first in the nation to make the local government initiate actions to deal with pollution.
But in the latter half of the 1970s, business pressured government into relaxing curbs on NO2 and making other regressive changes, thanks to which remedial measures against pollution regressed again and again. The Nishiyodogawa Association for Pollution Patients and Their Families went to court in an effort to obtain redress for victims and to demonstrate liability for the pollution. Under the slogan “A Blue Sky for Our Children,” they have carried on a persistent campaign with broad cooperation from the citizens
Testimony: Pollution Patients (Memories of Their Struggles)
On March 13 and 14 we held a nationwide protest action to oppose cancellation of regional pollution designations. Snow began mixing with the rain that was already falling, but we braved the bad weather to go through with our scheduled actions. Our enthusiasm blew away the cold and the wind and the rain, and touched the hearts of the people on the street and the people filling the windows of the government offices, who were watching that heart-rending procession of intensely serious pollution victims.
On the night of the 13th a woman from Tokyo’s Koto Ward, as well as a woman who appeared on behalf of her parents in Kawasaki, read tearful appeals in choked voices, which brought tears to the eyes of the over 2,000 people there — pollution victims and their labor-union supporters.
Having been discharged from the hospital only the previous month, I was still weakened, and supported myself with a cane as I went to Keidanren [Federation of Economic Organizations] headquarters to participate. I was aware that it might kill me, and I had come here against the objections of my wife and family, who had tried to stop me.
During the night I received an IV and injections for an asthma attack, and then participated in a demonstration near the government offices…
(Matsushi Imagawa, in Blue Sky No. 63, March 28, 1985)
I feel happy that I was able to finish the examination and cross-examination according to the diagnosis of my doctor…
It made me even tenser to think that every little thing was being closely watched, not only by the Association, which had filed the lawsuit, but also by all the people from the wide range of organizations who were supporting the Nishiyodogawa Lawsuit…
I am now in the pitiful state of having to stay alive by breathing oxygen 24 hours a day. Right now I want to stay alive in any way possible long enough to see victory in this lawsuit.
(Yoshio Satomura, “My Impressions Upon Finishing Clinical Questioning,” in Blue Sky No. 97, May 15, 1989)