Photo/IllutrationLawyers and supporters of the three South Korean wartime workers, holding up pictures of the plantiffs, welcome the ruling in Nagasaki on Jan. 8. (Rika Yuminaga)

NAGASAKI--Three South Korean wartime workers won their court battle here to be recognized as survivors of the Aug. 9, 1945, atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

The Nagasaki District Court on Jan. 8 ordered the city to issue hibakusha certificates to the men, who are now in their 90s and live in South Korea, a Japanese colony from 1910 to 1945.

They were brought to Japan to work at the Nagasaki Shipyard of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. during World War II.

The men applied for certification between 2015 and 2016, but they were refused on grounds they had no documents to prove they were drafted to work in Japan or were exposed to the atomic bombing. They filed a lawsuit in 2016 to be awarded the certificates.

The court's presiding judge said in her Jan. 8 ruling that since more than 70 years had passed since the bombing, it was not unusual for official records not to exist and concluded the plaintiffs’ testimony was trustworthy.

Last year, two of the plaintiffs described their experiences of being in Nagasaki when the atomic bomb leveled the city, which they said “qualified them as hibakusha.” The court hearing ended in September.

The three plaintiffs were unable come to Nagasaki on the day of the ruling due to health and other reasons.

“I'm happy the court believed my testimony and that I will be able to receive the certificate. This is the happiest moment of my life,” said one plaintiff, who is 93, upon learning of the verdict over the phone.

Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue said in a statement that he planned to consider how to respond to the ruling after confirming the details.

Mika Nakashiki, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, called on Nagasaki city authorities to review the certification methods requiring applicants to provide evidence they were exposed to the atomic bombing.

“Even among Japanese, there are people who have not been able to receive a certificate due to a lack of evidence. I want the city to review the certification system,” she said.