English Newsletter

Food Safety Citizens' Watch
English Newsletter

Issue # 12, International NGO Forum about Dioxin in Tokyo September 2007

Food Safety Citizens' Watch was established in April 2003 as a network of experts to monitor developments and make proposals to the government regarding food safety issues from the citizen's point of view.

October 3, 2007

International NGO Forum about Dioxin in Tokyo
By Kamiyama Michiko

This was the first conference ever that brought together NGOs and scientific experts to discuss the current state of research and the actual state of health problems and damage due to dioxin. Also, the dioxin damage was discussed as a problem of endocrine disruptors, substances that are known in Japan as "environmental hormones". The conference was held in Ichigaya, Tokyo at the JICA Institute, with about 200 participants on September 1-2, 2007.

No end yet to dioxin suffering: Among the highlights of the conference were photographs of children in Vietnamese villages who suffer from dioxin-related birth defects and deformities as a result of Agent Orange warfare, as well as the presentations from victims who still suffer from the incident involving PCB-contaminated rice oil in Taichung, Taiwan.

In Japan, the victims of a similar PCB-related rice oil incident, known as the Kanemi Oil Poisoning Case in the late 1960s are still waiting for full recognition and compensation. 14,000 people or more reported food poisoning-related health damage, which has been cited as the World's largest food poisoning case ever. As the speakers' stories even brought tears to the eyes of the participants, it was also clear that these health issues do not have any cure, and the people who suffer from the contamination must get the full support of society.

Human rights: We cannot help but feel that the debates about PCBs, endocrine disrupting chemicals and dioxins have all but died out here in Japan, as if people assume that the problems have disappeared. What is little known is that the serious suffering is still on-going. Thus there has been a need for this type of conference to discuss these issues in depth. Here in Japan, the standards are extremely strict for decisions about who can be officially considered a victim of food poisoning. Also, the people who are officially identified as Kanemi Yusho victims will only be eligible to receive a 200,000 yen cooperation fee for participation in a special research program that the government is funding, but it is being channeled through the company.

We have pointed out that no real compensation or support is offered to the victims by the government. The problems that victims face in the case of the Kanemi Yusho rice oil incident and other food safety and environmental contamination-related problems such as the Minamata disease must be addressed from the point of view of human rights. Let us continue the battle for the rights of the victims of food poisoning in Japan and other countries.


International NGO Forum on Dioxin Pollution,
in Tokyo 2007
September 1-2, 2007
Venue: JICA Institute for International Cooperation
Ichigaya, Tokyo

(September 1, 2007)
Theme: The Reality of Damage by Dioxins as Endocrine Disrupter: Reports on the Cases in Vietnam, Taiwan and in Japan

Session 1; Damage on human health by Defoliants used in Vietnam War by US Military Force
Damage on human health by Dioxins found through the medical check of the victims in Vietnam (1990-2005) by Dr. Hiroshi Miura, Director of Hannan Chuo Hospital, Medical Exchange Center, Japan-Vietnam (MECJV)
The reality of damage by defoliants seen from Tu Du Maternity Hospital and Hoa Binh (Peace) Village by Dr. Nguyen Thi Phuong Tan M.D., Chief of Rehabilitation Dept., Hoa Binh Village - Tu Du Maternity Hospital

Session 2; Effects on human health by "Yusho" rice oil poisoning
Long-term health effects associated with PCB/PCDF exposure in Taiwan Yusho patients
by Dr. Yueliang Leon Guo, Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University (NTU) and NTU Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

Session 3; Patients of Dioxins/Yusho now: What we can do to save the victims?
Progress and Task of Research on Kanemi Yusho at Present, Dr. Shimoda Mamoru, Shimonoseki University
Presentations by Yusho Patients in Japan
Report on the Activities of Kanemi Yusho Support Center, Ms. Reiko Sato

(September 2, 2007)
Theme: Research and Countermeasures on Dioxins from the View Point of Endocrine Disrupter Issue Today.

Session 1; The present situation of Dioxin pollution in Japan
The real situation of Dioxin contamination in foods in Japan, today by Dr. Hideaki Miyata, Professor of Setsunan University
The workers exposed to Dioxins at Toyono-Gun Cleaning Center; Twenty years later by Mr. Osamu Yagi, Secretary General of Worker's Compensation Insurance Fund, Nose Town Council Member

Session 2; Toxicity of Dioxins and their Adverse Effects on Human Health as Endocrine Disruptors
Experience with Agent Orange in Vietnam including dioxin contamination and health effects: 1970-2007 by Dr. Arnold Schecter, MD, MPH, Professor of Environmental Sciences, Univ. of Texas, School of Public Health, Dallas University of Texas
31 years after the Seveso accident: effects of dioxin on human health by Prof. Paolo Mocarelli, Professor, University of Milano - Bicocca, Director Specialty School of Clinical Biochemistry, Univ. Dept. Laboratory Medicine, Hospital of Desio, Italy
Toxicity and health effects of Dioxins; From the view point of experimental researcher" by Dr. Chiharu Tohyama, Prof. of Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo

Session 3; The strategic policy for the reduction of Dioxins
Identification and quantification of dioxin sources and current risk reduction activities in Sweden by Dr. Niklas Johansson, Swedish EPA
Our Proposal for the Reduction/Elimination of Dioxins by Mr. Toshikazu Fujiwara, General Secretary, Stop Dioxin Pollution! Kanto Network, Executive Board Member of People's Association on Countermeasures of Dioxin & Endocrine Disruptors (PACDED)