July 30 (UPI) -- A Japanese court is recognizing more "black rain" victims of the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima following a legal battle that has dragged on for years.
The Hiroshima District Court ruled Wednesday 84 victims of radioactive "black rain" did get sick as a result of the atomic bombing on Aug. 6, 1945, though they were in areas outside the state's officially designated limits, Kyodo News and Jiji Press reported Thursday.
"It is possible black rain fell outside the designated zone and reasonable to conclude that they were affected by radiation if they were exposed," said Judge Yoshiyuki Takashima.
Victims of the atomic bombing may have developed cancer and cataracts after being exposed to radioactive material. They may have also been exposed to radiation after consuming contaminated food and water, according to Kyodo.
The ruling on Wednesday marks the first time a Japanese court has recognized victims outside the designated parameters. The judge's decision will enable the plaintiffs, all of whom are elderly, to receive free health checkups like other officially recognized victims, reports say.
The plaintiffs first sued the city of Hiroshima and relevant prefectures in 2015. Regional governments initially pushed back against the suit, claiming there was no proof black rain had been a factor in the failing health of the victims.
The ruling could also have an impact on other regions of Japan and expand the definition of eligibility.
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press briefing on Wednesday the Hiroshima court decision "did not account for the [central] government's position."
Suga also said Tokyo is to conduct a "thorough investigation" into the ruling, which would make more people entitled to state-subsidized healthcare.