Taiwan’s last known ‘comfort woman’ dies aged 92

Posted by Sissy Vovou

Campaigners vow to continue fighting in memory of the ‘grandmas’ – an estimated 2,000 Taiwanese women sexually enslaved by Japan’s military

Taiwan’s last known survivor of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery has died at the age of 92, according to the island’s foreign ministry, which called the issue a “wound in human history”.

Referred to as “comfort women”, more than 200,000 women were sexually enslaved by Japan’s military during the second world war, mostly from South Korea but also from Taiwan, China, and Indonesia.

In Taiwan, which Japan ruled from 1895 to 1945, nearly 60 women had come forward over the years as survivors, according to Taipei’s Women’s Rescue Foundation, which estimates there were at least 2,000.

The foundation said on Monday the island’s last known survivor – who did not want her name made public and so was referred to simply as “grandma” – died on 10 May at the age of 92. News of her death was made public only after a private funeral.
The foundation said that it would “continue to advocate that Taiwan’s syllabus, National History Museum, and history books should record the historical truth of the ‘comfort women’/military sex slaves in Taiwan, so that this history will not disappear due to the death of grandmas”.

Japan’s wartime enslavement of women is a politically charged issue across Asia. While Japan’s government has acknowledged past atrocities, critics say officials throughout the decades have refused to take full responsibility for sexual enslavement. The Japanese government has said the victims were recruited by civilians to military brothels that were commercially operated.

Jeff Liu, from Taiwan’s ministry of foreign affairs, said: “The ‘comfort woman’ issue is a wound in human history and the government has attached great importance to the dignity and welfare of former Taiwanese [survivors].

“[The government] has continued to express concerns to the Japanese government … and urge the Japanese side to face our demand to apologise and compensate Taiwanese ‘comfort women’ and their families.”

The issue has sparked protests in Taiwan, with women’s groups lobbying for compensation for survivors – something only South Korea has formally received.

Taipei’s Women Rescue Foundation said that even with the death of the last “grandma”, they would continue to demand that Japan apologise and make compensation. Older post on the this subject, here:

source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/may/24/taiwans-last-known-comfort-woman-dies-aged-92

Photo: NGO group members in 2018 display a placard showing Japan’s then prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and the text ‘Apologise’ during a rally in Taipei for ‘comfort women’. Photograph: Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images