The last known Taiwanese survivor of the Japanese army’s wartime brothels, also known as ‘comfort women’, has died at the age of 92. The woman, who did not wish to be named, died on May 10, according to a Taipei anti-sex trafficking group. Activists estimate that around 200,000 people were forced into sexual slavery by Japan’s forces during World War Two, including about 2,000 women in Taiwan. The Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation said her family had permitted the news of her death to be known after a private funeral.
The historical grievance has long been a sore point in Japan’s relations with its neighbours. Thousands of ‘comfort women’ were drawn from Korea, and the issue has long driven a political wedge between Tokyo and Seoul. In 2015, the two governments came to an agreement in which Japan’s foreign minister apologised for the ‘grave affront to the honour and dignity of large numbers of women’. However, a few weeks later, the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appeared to walk back the apology. He told the Japanese parliament: ‘There was no document found that the comfort women were forcibly taken away’.