of housewife and mother. Burakumin, of full-scale
Ohno traces the decay of Japanese agriculture back to the 1950s and 1960s when there was U.S. pressure on Japan to become a market for U.S. agriCUltural commodities, to expand its military budget and armaments, and to become dependent on food imports in order to lessen the potential danger of full-scale rearmament. Ohno notes the importance of the 1961 Fundamentals of Agriculture Law, which broUght agricultural policy into line with the switch to highspeed economic growth based on industry. By encouraging mechanization and use of new techniques of cultivation using chemicals and by stimulating a reorientation of food production toward a Western model, the law had the effect of reducing the number of farm households. The effect was startling. In the single decade 1960-1970, the proportion of the working population that was in agriculture fell from 26.8 percent to 15.9 percent, only to drop to 9.1 percent in 1980 and to 6.2 percent in 1990. Over the same period the farm population dropped over the 1960s from almost 12 million to 8.1 million, and to less than 4 million in 1990.31
As Ishimure Michiko reminds us through Christopher Stevens's translation from Bitter Sea, Pure Land, more than anyone else, the fishing people of Minamata felt the full consequences of all-out development. Their way of life and their very lives were destroyed by the symbol of development that had been in their midst since the ftrst decade of the twentieth century, the Chisso Corporation. Despite clear evidence obtained in the late 1950s in its own labs that mercury from its effluent was the cause of the terrible disease spreading through the community, the Chisso Corporation, in connivance with the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and other pro-development ministries, deliberately suppressed the evidence and continued the systematic pollution of the seas around Minamata with mercury. The Minamata sufferers' tenacious fight for recognition of the cause of their illness and for redress from Chisso inspired other social movements to come and forced the government to enact pollution control measures in the 1970 Diet session. Yet, Chisso never made adequate compensation for the human cost, as comes through with terrible clarity in Ishimure's section on the boy Yamanaka Kuhei. Chisso fought bitterly against making even the paltry payments the individual sufferers eventually received.