TOKYO, Nov 1 (Reuters) Japan must pay compensation to dozens of South Korean survivors of the 1945 atomic bombing in Hiroshima, the Supreme Court ruled today, finalising such an order for the first time, media said.
The landmark ruling upheld a lower court decision ordering the government to pay a total of 48 million yen (415,900 dollar) in damages to 40 South Koreans who were exposed to radiation while doing forced labour in factories, Kyodo news agency said.
Many of them have died, but relatives continued with the court case.
''The plaintiffs were forced to suffer special health problems arising from their exposure to radiation and to lead uncomfortable lives,'' Judge Norio Wakui was quoted as saying by Kyodo.
The top court also said it was illegal for the government to refuse to pay medical allowances to atomic bomb survivors living overseas, a source of numerous court cases by victims in South Korea.
About 5,000 victims of the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 live overseas, many of them in North and South Korea.
Many Koreans were conscripted by Japan before and during World War Two for forced labour in Japan, Manchuria and the Russian Far East. Japan occupied the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.
Victims living in Japan, both Japanese and foreigners, are entitled to medical treatment paid for by the government.
REUTERS PJ PM1647