The plaintiffs, lawyers and families involved in a lawsuit for sufferers of the Minamata mercury poisoning urged the Environment Ministry on Tuesday not to appeal an Osaka High Court decision last week that ordered the central government, Kumamoto Prefecture and Chisso Corp. to pay 320 million yen in damages.

“The ruling was the logical conclusion that I think any rational person would draw, and the judge put it in a way very easy to understand,” said Toru Nishiguchi, who heads the team of lawyers in the case.

“I feel as if a burden has been lifted from my shoulders,” said 76-year-old plaintiff Toshiyuki Kawakami. “We have fought in court for 19 years. Most of us plaintiffs are in our 70s,” he said, adding that 21 of the original 59 plaintiffs have died.

“I strongly hope the Environment Ministry does not appeal,” he said. “I wish the government would act in accordance with the ruling and pay restitution to the victims.”

Last week’s verdict altered a lower court decision that had determined that only chemicals maker Chisso should be held responsible for the mercury poisoning fiasco, in which Chisso discharged untreated waste from acetaldehyde production into Minamata Bay from 1932 to 1968.

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