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VI. Establishment of the Hikari foundation

1. Work of the Hikari Foundation

In April of 1974, the Hikari Foundation was established in order to help the Morinaga poisoning victims. It took 19 years for this organization to be formed. The protection association held a national board meeting in May and decided to stop the boycott against Morinaga products, as well as withdraw their lawsuits, as agreed by the three-party negotiations. The protection association continued in its work, which was focused mainly on the strengthening of the Hikari Foundation. Except for a few scholars, the executive members of the Foundation were mostly parents who had been involved in the protection association. The membership of the two organizations was very much the same. The Hikari Foundation was headquartered in Osaka where a committee, composed of professional doctors and educators, was founded. The district offices were located so as best to provide services to the many victims of the poisoning. As of 1981, there were 17 district offices, managed by parents involved in the protection association. There was also a great deal of co-operation from medical doctors and from people working in special education.

By the end of March 1983, there were 13,396 victims of the Morinaga milk poisonings, and 6,389 of these were in communication with the Hikari Foundation.10 The work of the Foundation centred mostly on the development of the victims' independence as well as on creating social conditions for that development. The Foundation is involved in many areas, such as the distribution of available funds and helping with health care, education, counseling, and occupational therapy, and providing for the victims a place and the ability to meet each other.11 The relatively severely poisoned victims receive basic compensation and medical fees. For those who need funds for daily needs, a certain amount of financial aid is provided. In March 1981, 593 persons were receiving basic compensation support funds, and of these 181 were badly handicapped (table 3.7). The Hikari Foundation provides financial aid to "Taiyo no Kai," which was organized by the victims, and to the protection association for activity funds.

Table 3.7a. Number of Recipients of Basic Services (a) and Respective Expenditures (b) (unit for b: 1,000 yen)










Diagnostic a 569 514 505 606 584 583 579 725
examination b 13,136 16,863 9,727 16.877 7.575 11.115 12.057 14,097
Medical a 780 754 698 689 689 632 636 665
treatment b 32.927 29,930 23.684 32,714 34.613 34.499 37.277 40.538
Basic a 87 119 134 151 156 168 172 181
allowance 1 b 47,850 64.258 75,100 84,220 89.600 97,225 100,210 100,500
Basic a 55 99 114 135 153 154 171 195
allowance 2 b 27.225 43.751 58.170 66,690 76.995 83,755 89,365 98,375
Basic a 64 175 210 187 204 210 194 217
allowance 3 b 14,080 38,863 41,041 41,520 46,320 45.770 44,920 44.740
Hospitalization a 47 61 60 60 69 78 79 76
allowance b 13,340 11,350 12.752 13.340 14,840 15,980 16,600 17,040
Special health a 76 114 136 126 132 116 150  
control allowance b 1,196 3.820 6.420 6,816 8,664 7,608 9.920  
Employment a 16 38 41 39 36 25 20  
allowance b 1,100 2.752 2,990 3.040 2.570 1,950 1,980  
Training a 3 7 5 2 16 18 20  
allowance b 52 318 112 42 1.714 2,372 2,666  
Self-aid a           36 51 54
allowance b           6,300 11.226 9,801
At-home Centres 5 5 6 7 13 13 16 17
training a 5 12 18 23 60 71 147 185
  Trainers           78 142 129
  Visits           2.324 4.782 5,076
  b     3,108 4.901 6,378 9.477 24,851 33.125
Consultative a 514 844 1,156 1.225 1,124 1.342 1.430 1.722  
service Meetings       4,616 6.286 6,914 7,808  
Total recipients   1.633 1,720 1,767 1,851 1,769 1,809 18,37 2,385
New recipients   1,633 552 350 309 326 243 247  

Table 3.7b. Budget (B) and Actual Expenditure (E) (unit: 1.000 yen)










B 348.955 489.288 553.229 643.630 702,093 787,707 878,854 927,622
E 348.955 480.268 549,009 627.750 684,490 765,221 799,756 829,895

Source: Zaidan Hojin Hikari Kyokai. Kokyuu kyuusai. no. 17 (October 1982): 23.

The annual budget of the Hikari Foundation was 348.9 million yen (about $1,186,000) in 1974 and 927.6 million yen (about $4,174,000) in 1981. These funds are covered from amounts provided by the Morinaga Milk Products Company. As the Foundation's activities increased, so also did the need for funds.

2. Remaining Issues

Through the activities of the Hikari Foundation it would appear that the needs of the poisoning victims are being met. However, there are still a number of unresolved issues. Table 3.8 indicates the number of victims recognized by the Ministry for Health and Welfare and those who were later recognized by the Hikari Foundation. The question still remains as to what should be done with those persons who would rather not be labeled as arsenic milk-poisoning victims.12 Another problem has to do with compensation for people who died as a result of the poisoning, as well as compensation in relation to past damages. A third unresolved issue concerns compensation to the adult victims of the poisoning - that is, those persons who were adults at the time they ingested the powdered milk. Some of the persons who have been involved in working with the victims of the poisoning are criticizing the Hikari Foundation for not extending its work to include the resolution of these outstanding issues. In this regard, the coverage of the government and the Morinaga Company is all too inadequate.13

By way of conclusion, the issues generated by the Morinaga arsenic-poisoned milk incident can be summarized as follows. First, there were large numbers of victims discovered over a very wide area. It should be noted that the problem raised its ugly head just as Japan was entering its high-economic-growth period. In this context, young women were hired as cheap labour and as such met the requirements for an expanding labour force. In order to participate in these production activities, young women and working mothers would use powdered milk.

Secondly, in the context of these economic conditions, people were caught up in a headlong and unquestioning race towards "modernization," because it was assumed that modernization could solve all problems. The use of powdered baby milk was seen as a step in the direction of modernization and therefore the demand for this product was very great. Thus the mentality that placed modernization above all other values was in part a cause of the tragedy seen in the arsenic milk poisonings. Immediately after the Second World War, the Japanese suffered greatly from shortages of food and consumer goods, and thus there was a very strong desire that the factories be reopened and that new ones be built utilizing new technologies; these were seen as a means of fulfilling the desire for consumer goods and the materialistic culture of the West. From this came the energy that was needed for Japan to "catch up" with the West, whose life-style they envied. The powdered milk situation provides a good example of this. After the Second World War, knowledge of nutrition was introduced from the United States and statistics became the basis for judging food nutrition in the modernizing age. This produced an excessive degree of trust in nutritional analyses, especially in relation to processed foods, and as a result one misguided social phenomenon was to be discerned in the absolutizing of the so-called "science" of nutritional analysis. People were charmed by the powdered milk that had been produced by a well-known company and were duped by the pretty cans upon which nutritional analyses were recorded. Every company competing in this field advertised that their product was better nutritionally than any other; they also claimed that it provided better nutrition than mother's milk and that, because of this, babies fed on it would grow and mature better. And so, instead of making efforts to breast-feed their own children, young mothers were led to purchase expensive powdered milk.

Table 3.8. Changes in the Number of Service Recipientsa


Group 1b

Group 2c


1974 12,401 0 12.401
1975 12,401 89 12 490
1976 12,401 703 13,104
1977 12,401 850 13,251
1978 12,373 930 13,303
1979 12,369 987 13 356
1980 12,368 1,010 13.378
1981 12,368 1,021 13,389
1982 12,368 1.029 13,397
1983 12,368 1,028 13,396

a. For details, see note 12.
b. Those recognized by the Ministry of Health and Welfare as MF milk victims.
c. Those recognized by the Hikari Foundation.
Source: Zaidan Hojin Hikari Kyokai, Kokyuu kyuusai, no. 22 (January 1984): 9.

A third reason why the poisoning produced so many victims is related to the problems created by health professionals such as paediatricians, gynaecologists, and local public health nurses. The excessive trust in powdered baby milk and in nutritional analyses, along with the powerful product advertising, greatly influenced the vast majority of health professionals. The responsibility for the poisoning incident and the tremendous increase in the number of victims rests not only with the doctors and nurses who assumed the same stance as the profit-seeking company, but also with local medical practitioners who uncritically accepted powdered milk as being of significant value. These medical professionals told young mothers that the powdered milk was very nutritious, but failed to indicate that it should only be used as a last resort under circumstances where natural breast-milk is not available or cannot, for some special reason, be supplied. In this regard, is it not best to build a society in which it is unnecessary for young mothers to work while they are feeding their infants?

In the fourth place, there still exists the issue of how to deal with the problems created by the arsenic milk poisoning incident. The Hikari Foundation method was different from the avenues of approach taken in other environmental poisoning cases. The specific measures provided were determined by the victims and their associated supporters, and these were the best measures possible at the time. However, in practice, this orientation was not able to provide help to all the victims. There are two aspects to this problem that should be considered in the future. The first relates to the fact that the Hikari Foundation is totally dependent on the Morinaga Milk Company for financial backing. The day will come when the company and its management practices will lead to another crisis, and funds for the victims of the poisoning will be cut off. Even though the Hikari Foundation has been established with a sufficient degree of independence so that it is not excessively subjected to the whims of company management, we are still greatly concerned by the fact that the relief plan for the victims is based only on the viability of a private company, which seeks only profit, in the economic market-place.

In relation to this, the government, which also carries a very heavy burden of responsibility for the problem, did not make clear its administrative responsibility for the incident and did not include the poisoning in the protection provided by the social security and medical care systems. The government should recognize the deficiencies in the social security system in this regard, and should seek to redress these problems, especially in respect of the miserly security provisions allowed to the handicapped. The government did not accept any responsibility for this problem, though it promised some degree of co-operation with the Hikari Foundation. But in this respect also, it has been no help at all. The example of foundations such as the Hikari organization was adopted in other environmental destruction cases, such as that of the thalidomide poisonings, but continued government support for such foundations is important; we must therefore ensure that government help is forthcoming over the long term.

The fifth issue is related to the fact that the Hikari Foundation continues under the leadership of the Morinaga Milk Poisoning Protection Association, and as such is a third-party organization. This, then, is the public forum for the victims and the members of the protection association. In other words, the Hikari Foundation is in fact the locus of confrontation between the victims of the poisoning and the Morinaga Company. The continued relief of the poisoning victims is totally dependent on the members of the protection association, who are fully supportive of the Hikari organization. But the active members of the protection association are ageing and they are looking for younger volunteers who are capable of understanding the situation. It is important to rejuvenate the association, which is being run chiefly by victims who were relatively lightly poisoned.


1. Morinaga Arsenic Milk Struggle - 20 Years (Ijiyakugyo Shimposha, 1977), p. 28.

2. Asahi shimun, 19 December 1969.

3. "Indict the Academy," Young Public Hygiene Workers Meeting, 1970.

4. The "Kanemi" incident was a food-pollution problem that was discovered in October 1968. The cause of the widespread poisoning was the leakage of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), used as a heat-transfer medium for edible oil processing, into the oils being manufactured. The victims numbered 100,000 and this case is still being tried in the courts, especially in relation to the problem of compensation.

5. The Group to Indict the Morinaga Company, ea., "Arsenic Milk 3" Survey Committee meeting notes from the Okayama Prefecture Baby Milk Arsenic Poisonings (1974) supplementary material, p. 7. This paper explains the manner in which the official report to Okayama Prefecture tried to undermine the victims and make their problems seem of little consequence.

6. Words of Isamu Ono, President, Nihon keizai shimbun, 13 December 1971.

7. Morinaga Arsenic Milk Poisoning Protection Association, Hikari, no. 39 (20 October 1972).

8. Nihon keizai shimbun, 11 April 1972, and Hiroshima shimbun, 24 August 1972.

9. Morinaga Arsenic Milk Poisoning Victims' Lawyers' Group, ea., Morinaga Arsenic Milk Poisoning Incident and the Court Struggles.

10. Zaidan Hojin Hikari Kyokai, Kankyo kyusai, no. 22 (January 1984):9.

11. Refer to Kankyo kyusai, the publication of the activities of the Hikari Foundation.

12. These figures were registered with the local government offices and with the Ministry of Public Welfare in 1955. Some of the victims who did not register became the central issue of negotiations between the victim families and the Morinaga Company. The decrease in the number of victims is an indication that some of them died. After the establishment of the Hikari Foundation, the victims recognized by the Foundation were immediately recognized by the Ministry of Public Welfare. There were some people who had been poisoned by MF milk which was not withdrawn from the market until later or who did not realize that they were victims; they were refused recognition simply because there was no authentic proof that they used to drink MF milk.

13. Asahi shimbun, 7 May 1981 (evening edition).


Dai 27-kai Nihon Koshu Eisei Gakkai Jiyu Shukai, Wakai Koshu Eisei Jujisha no Tsudoi Jimukyoku [Office of the Assembly of Young Public Hygiene Workers], ed. Gakkai o kokuhatsusuru [Indict the Japan Academy of Public Hygiene]. 1970.

Leff, S., and V. Leff. Health and Humanity. Lawrence & Wishart, 1962.

Matsuo, M. Rakuno to nyugyo no keizai bunseki [Economic Analysis of Dairy Farming and the Dairy Industry]. Toyo Keizai Shimposha, 1966.

Morinaga Hiso Miruku Toso 20 Nenshi Henshuiinkai [The Compilation Committee for the 20-year History of the Struggle against the Morinaga Arsenic Milk Poisoning], ed. Morinaga hive miruku toso 20 nenshi [The 20-year History of the Struggle against the Morinaga Arsenic Milk Poisoning]. Iji Yakugyo Shinposha, 1977.

Morinaga Miruku Chudoku Higaisha Bengodan [advocates' Group for the Morinaga Milk Poisoning Plaintiffs]. Morinaga miruku Chudoku jiken to saiban [The Morinaga Milk Poisoning Incident and Lawsuit]. Minerva Shobo, 1975.

Morinaga Miruku Chudoku no Kodomo o Mamorukai Zenkokuhonbu Jimukyoku [National Head Office for the Protection of Morinaga Arsenic Milk Poisoning Children]. Hikari, all issues (published monthly since December 1969).

Morinaga Nyugyo 50 Nenshi Hensaniinkai [Compilation Committee for the 50-year History of Morinaga Nyugyo], ed. Morinaga nyugyo 50 nenshi [History of the Morinaga Milk Company]. Morinaga Milk Industry Co. Ltd. 1967.

Nakajima, T., ed. Gendai nihon sangyo hattatsushi: 18 shokuhin "History of Contemporary Japanese Industrial Development: 18 Foods]. Kojunsha Shuppankyoku, 1967.

Nihon nogyo nenkan 1955 [Japanese Agricultural Yearbook 1955]. Ienohikari Kyoukai, 1954

Onjoji, M. Yappari bonyu [Breast-milk After All]. Aiiku (Bosh) Aiikukai Foundation), vol. 38, no. 9 (1973).

Sawada, K. Bonyu, kono subarashiki mono [Breast-milk. That Wonderful Thing]. Aiiku (Bosh) Aiikukai Foundation), vol. 46, no. 1 (1981).

Shukan Diamond Henshubu. Morinaga nyugyo hive miruku jiken no kyokun [Lessons from the Morinaga Arsenic Milk Poisoning Incident]. Weekly Diamond, 26 April 1975.

Takei, G. Kosei-sho shoshi [Short History of the Ministry of Health and Welfare]. Kosei Mondai Kenkyukai [Society for the Study of Welfare Problems], 1947.

Tanigawa, M. Hiso miruku [Arsenic Milk], Morinaga o Kokuhatsusurukai [Committee to Indict Morinaga], no. I (1971), no. 2 (1973), no. 3 (1974).

Yamamoto, K. Bonyu [Breast-milk]. Iwanami Shoten, 1983.

Zaidan Hojin Hikari Kyokai [Hikari Foundation]. Kokyuu kyuusai [Permanent Help], all issues (published quarterly since August 1978).

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