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Former 'comfort woman' dies in Pingtung

2016/01/14 20:20:50

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Taipei, Jan. 14 (CNA) Cheng-Chen Tao (鄭陳桃), one of Taiwan's few surviving "comfort women," died of pneumonia in a hospital in the southernmost county of Pingtung on Monday. She was 93.

Due to her ailing physical state, on Oct. 21 Cheng-Chen moved to the Southern Region Senior Citizens' Home in Pingtung City from her previous residence in Linluo Township, some 10 kilometers east of the city. Her weight was only 23 kilograms when she moved into the nursing home.

Cheng-Chen had been hospitalized in the Ministry of Health and Welfare Pingtung Hospital twice after her move to the nursing care facility.

Cheng-Chen married twice and is survived by an adopted daughter and an adopted son.

The term "comfort women" euphemistically describes women from around East Asia, including several thousand Taiwanese, who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II.

Cheng-Chen was forced to work at a Japanese military brothel in Andaman Islands, an archipelago in the Bay of Bengal, in early 1940s.

She and another three women, who were also forced to work as sex slaves by the Japanese military, sued the Japanese government for an apology and compensation in 1999. However, they lost the case.

President Ma Ying-jeou felt very saddened about Cheng-Chen's death and regretted that she did not receive a formal apology from the Japanese government, said Presidential Office spokesman Charles Chen (陳以信).

Ma also said all those concerned about former Taiwanese comfort women would also lament Cheng-Chen's death, especially as this leaves only three such Taiwanese survivors left in the world after her passing, Chen said on Thursday.

Chen said Ma will attend Cheng-Chen's memorial service next week.

Of the surviving three comfort women, two are 92 years old, and the third is 87, said Kang Shu-hua (康淑華), executive director of Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation which has long offered assistance to Taiwanese comfort women.

(By Kuo Chu-chen, Hsieh Chia-chen and Kuo Chung-han)