Lawrence University economist Yoko Nagase will review five historic Japanese pollution cases and discuss the role each played in the development of Japan’s modern environmental policy Tuesday, Oct. 11 in a Lawrence University Main Hall Forum.
Nagase’s address, “History of Environmental Issues in Japan” at 4:30 p.m. in Main Hall, room 201, is free and open to the public.An assistant professor of economics specializing in environmental and resource economics, Nagase will trace the development of Japan’s environmental policy from 1868 — the beginning of the country’s modern industrial era — through the present.
She will focus on several high-profile pollution cases that were critical factors in shaping the current policy, including the 1950s outbreak of what became famously known as Minamata Disease due to mercury poisoning. More than 900 deaths were attributed to Minamata Disease and more than 2,000 additional individuals were diagnosed with the illness, which resulted from the consumption of fish and shellfish contaminated with mercury. The chemical had been routinely dumped into Minamata Bay for years by the Chisso Corporation, a former fertilizer company that evolved into a petrochemical and plastic-maker company.
Nagase, a member of the Lawrence economic department since 2001, earned her bachelor’s degree at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo and her Ph.D. at the University of Oregon.