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World's oldest 'Comfort Woman' dies in Taiwan


10:40, November 08, 2012

Huang Wu Hsiu-mei, the world's oldest "comfort woman", has died in Taiwan, Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation (TWRF) confirmed on Tuesday.

Huang Wu died, aged 96, from respiratory failure on Saturday.

A total of 50 "comfort women," or sex slaves forced to work for Japanese soldiers during the Second World War, have died in Taiwan in the past 20 years. Only eight are alive in Taiwan, with an average age of 87.

Huang Wu was forced by the Japanese government to work as a sex slave for Japanese soldiers in China's Guangdong province in 1940. She was forced to offer sex services to up to 20 Japanese soldiers each day, for about a year.

After returning to Taiwan, Huang Wu had two unhappy marriages because she was unable to have a child, a result of the harm she suffered as a "comfort woman."

She once told others that the harm, which ruined her body, might be forgotten by the Japanese government, but would always be remembered by her.

Initially, she declined to disclose the fact that she once worked as a "comfort woman" to avoid embarrassing her relatives. After receiving support from others, she stood up and was a voice for other victims.

She travelled to Japan, Australia and South Korea and won support from many people.

During those travels, Huang Wu was impressed by the beauty and confidence of the flight attendants. She once said she might have become one if she had not been forced to work as a "comfort woman."

In 2009, TWRF, working with a local airline in Taiwan, helped Huang Wu work as a flight attendant for one day to give her a taste of her dream.

TWRF said that the international community has recognized the existence of "comfort women" for Japanese soldiers in the Second World War, adding that victims suffered a great deal and that the Japanese government played a role in committing those atrocities.

Despite repeated calls for a formal apology, successive Japanese governments have failed to do so. Tokyo has failed to pay out compensation to the victims.

TWRF blasted the Japanese government for this unrepentant position and said it will continue to work for the rights of the victims in Taiwan.

TWRF plans to hold a memorial service for Huang Wu next month.
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