In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court said Thursday the government acted illegally in failing to mandate ventilation to protect workers at asbestos mills, holding the state liable for ¥330 million in compensation.

It is the first time the top court has indicted the state for asbestos-linked health problems. The ruling is likely to influence similar lawsuits in the future.

It also ends an eight-year struggle for justice by several dozen sufferers from Osaka Prefecture who uncovered divisions between different layers of the judiciary in assessing the state's culpability.