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Disaster and Resilience: Lessons from Minamata – NCTA Online Program

The Chisso chemical plant in Minamata, Japan (Minimata Disease Municipal Museum). Photo credit: UN News


This combination online book discussion and workshop explored the NCTA award winning graphic novel The Minamata Story: An EcoTragedy, which tells the story of how the Japanese town of Minamata became synonymous with environmental tragedy and recovery. The story of the Minamata disaster, on the island of Kyushu, has application to a range of subject areas and is an excellent case study of human-caused environmental disasters and what we can do about them. The events in Minamata profoundly impacted the relationship between local people, corporations, and the environment and helped spur environmental law and policy in Japan. In addition to discussion of the graphic novel we also explored how primary source photography of the aftermath of the tragedy allowed grassroots activists to successfully campaign for government and corporate accountability.


All participants were expected to read the graphic novel The Minamata Story: An EcoTragedy and to watch this NHK documentary.

Date and time

Saturday, May 6th, 2023; 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM (Pacific Time).

Program leaders

Dr. Brian Dowdle, Associate Professor of Japanese Language and Culture, and Mansfield Fellow, University of Montana.
Dr. Lauren Collins, Program Director of Asian Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Program benefits

  • A physical or digital copy of the book
  • Online Resource packet
  • Five free Washington State OSPI clock hours


This seminar was offered to K-12 educators free of charge thanks to a generous grant from the Freeman Foundation to the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA), and it was sponsored by the University of Washington’s East Asia Resource Center in partnership with Boise State University.