A court yesterday threw out a lawsuit by a group of South Koreans who worked as forced laborers in Hiroshima, Japan, when the city was devastated by a US atomic bomb in the closing days of World War II.
The Busan District Court rejected a demand for compensation from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for back wages and illness and other side-effects as a result of the bombing in 1945, saying it was too late to file the suit.
"There is no ground to exceptionally exclude the application of the statute of limitations" in the case, Judge Lee Seung-ho said.
In 2000, Lee Byung-mok, 84, and five other plaintiffs sued for 101 million won (US$108,000) each in compensation from Mitsubishi for skin disease and other side-effects caused by the initial blast and radiation caused by the bomb and for the value of their labor.
In 1945, the six returned to South Korea. One of the plaintiffs has since died.
About 260,000 people survived the Nagasaki and Hiroshima nuclear attacks, including 4,000 living abroad. A large number were Koreans brought to Japan as soldiers or slave laborers during Japan's harsh colonial rule of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945.
Survivors have developed various illnesses from being exposed to nuclear radiation, including cancer.
Officially recognized survivors living in Japan are eligible for monthly allowances of up to about ?140,000 (US$1,150), free medical checkups and funeral costs.
Overseas-based survivors had been excluded until a change in Tokyo's government policy in 2003.