A Japanese district court acknowledged on Friday that 25 out of 144 plaintiffs, who were initially excluded from a 2009 special relief program for Minamata disease, were indeed affected by mercury-tainted industrial wastewater from a plant in Kumamoto Prefecture.

The plaintiffs had filed lawsuits against the central government, the Kumamoto Prefectural Government, and Chisso, the plant's owner in Minamata city, alleging unfair exclusion from the relief program primarily based on their places of residence. They sought ¥4.5 million in damages per person.

However, presiding Judge Hideki Shinagawa at the Kumamoto District Court dismissed the plaintiffs' claim for damages, citing the expiration of the 20-year statute of limitations for such claims.