The International Journal of Restorative Justice


Can art convey a victim’s voice to future generations? A case of Minamata disease in Japan

Keywords restorative justice, community, environmental harm, art, Japan
Authors Orika Komatsubara
Author's information

Orika Komatsubara
Orika Komatsubara holds a Research Fellowship for Young Scientists (PD), Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Kansai University, Osaka, Japan. Corresponding author: Orika Komatsubara at
  • Abstract

      This study explores how communities pass on traumatic memories to future generations in the aftermath of tragic disasters. In the aftermath of conflict, people attempt to forget or record and share memories of the tragedy to rebuild the community. In restorative justice, hearing victims’ voices is important. This core idea can be extended to future generations by including them in the passing on of the voices. To understand inheritance of memory as a form of restorative justice, I conducted a case study on Minamata disease, a major human, social, and environmental tragedy in Japan. I focused on the work of a local reading group that does not directly advocate for the voices of victims but expresses them by artistically presenting texts related to Minamata disease. The victims perceived that not only humans but also non-human beings had been harmed by environmental destruction. The focus of the analysis was on how the world described by the victims’ sensitivity to non-human beings is passed on to the future generations. The study highlighted that the process of an artistic approach of restorative justice creates a space for dialogue between different generations. The positive impact of an artistic approach to restorative justice can be used as a tool of resistance by communities facing tragedy.

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