South Korea's Supreme Court on Thursday ordered major Japanese manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. to pay damages to two groups of South Koreans for wartime labor, following a similar order last month against another Japanese company.

The two rulings by the Supreme Court, which each drew an immediate protest from Tokyo, have set a clear precedent for similar cases involving Japanese companies, while affecting ties between South Korea and Japan that are often strained by issues of wartime history.

The rulings "completely overthrow the legal foundation of the friendly and cooperative relationship that Japan and the Republic of Korea have developed since the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1965," Foreign Minister Taro Kono said in a statement, calling the court decisions "extremely regrettable and totally unacceptable."