The Role of Literary Artists in Environmental Movements: Minamata Disease and Michiko Ishimure


By offering new fantasies, perspectives and representations, artists have the power to make people aware of social issues and inspire them to action. This paper describes how artists can offer a vision of environmental resistance by employing fantasy and using tools of poetic expression for communities affected by environmental destruction. This paper employs a case study methodology to examine the Minamata disease victims’ movement in Japan through the lens of environmental justice. As part of this movement, writer Michiko Ishimure created a fantasy called Mouhitotsu-no-konoyo, based in a mythical world and featuring the moral relationships that the people of Minamata, Kumamoto Prefecture, had embraced before modernisation. I will show the importance of this fantasy for the movement, analysing it from two perspectives: those of ningenteki-dori (the human principle) and the invisible fantasy about the mythical world. Ishimure’s fantasy offers a moral message to prevent further environmental harm.


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Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2022-03-01
Pages:71 to 84
Section:Special Issue: Green Criminological Dialogues
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How to Cite
Komatsubara, O. . (2022) “The Role of Literary Artists in Environmental Movements: Minamata Disease and Michiko Ishimure”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 11(1), pp. 71-84. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.1984.

Author Biography

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science

Orika Komatsubara is a research fellowship for young scientists in Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. She holds a Ph.D. in Human Sciences from Osaka Prefecture University in Japan. Her researches focus on restorative justice which means the approach of conflict resolutions. She is the author of Sexual Violence and Restorative Justice (Seibouryoku to Syuhukuteki Shiho, Seibundo, 2017). She received the award of Japan Association of Gender and Law in 2018. Her latest English work is ‘Imagining a community that includes non-human beings: the 1990's Moyainaoshi Movement in Minamata , Japan’ (The International Journal of Restorative Justice, 1,123-246, 2021).