What Is A ‘Comfort Woman’? Taiwan’s Last Known Survivor Of Wartime Sexual Slavery Dies

Comfort Woman
Taiwan’s last known “comfort woman” from World War 2 passed away at the age of 92. The term comfort woman refers to women forced into sexual slavery by Japan’s military. As per estimates, more than 200,000 were forced into sexual slavery from 1932 to 1945.

According to activists, the woman, who did not wish to be named passed away on May 10. She was the last known comfort woman from Taiwan. The Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation said the woman’s family permitted news of her death to be known after a private funeral was held.

The women forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese military were from Imperial Japan’s occupied territories in Korea, China, the Philippines, Taiwan and other areas. Out of the estimated 200,000 comfort women, around 2,000 were from Taiwan.

The Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation said 59 survivors had come forward after they set up a hotline in 1992.

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What Is A Comfort Woman?

A comfort woman is a woman who was forced to work in the Japanese army’s brothels during World War 2.

According to the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation, the last surviving comfort woman who did not want her name to be made public and was known as “grandma” passed away aged 92.

Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation said that it would continue advocating that the syllabus in Taiwan, National History Museum, and history books contain historical information about comfort women. The foundation said that despite the death of the last known comfort woman in Taiwan, they would continue to demand compensation from Japan.

Taiwan was colonised by Japan from 1895 to 1945, in 2018, the first memorial to comfort women was set up in the city of Tainan. Taiwan also opened up a museum dedicated to comfort women in the capital, Taipei.

Japan’s treatment and sexual enslavement of women during wartime have been a politically charged issue for its neighbours. Japan’s government acknowledged the past atrocities, however, critics said that officials refused to take responsibility for sexual enslavement.

In Taiwan, women’s groups have lobbied for compensation for survivors, something only South Korea has formally received.

Professor Mary McCarthy of Drake University, who specialises in Japan’s domestic and foreign policies spoke with BBC about the comfort women. She stated that Japan had minimised the topic of comfort women and the issue was removed from school textbooks.