• Kyodo News


A South Korean former “comfort woman” and prominent antiwar campaigner has been found safe in the coastal town of Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, one of the areas hit hardest by the quake-triggered tsunami, her supporters said Sunday.

Song Shin Do, 88, the only South Korean resident in Japan who has said she was forced into prostitution during the war, was found alive and well at a local evacuation center Friday and took refuge in Tokyo on Sunday.

Her supporters in and outside of Japan, who are active in pressing the issue of sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during the war, were worried about her safety.

Shortly after the earthquake hit Onagawa, a local welfare officer visited Song at her house. She was initially advised to evacuate to an assembly hall to evade the approaching tsunami but was held up by her dog, Mariko, which was taking a while to get out of the house.

She then saw the tsunami coming toward her and hurriedly fled with Mariko to higher ground in her bare feet, despite her weak legs. But since the assembly hall she was fleeing to ended up being washed away, her dog ended up saving her life, the organization said.

After temporarily taking refuge at an acquaintance’s house, she was carried piggyback by people in the neighborhood on the following day to the evacuation center, where she was found. She felt lonely at the center because Mariko had to be taken outside, the organization said.

Yang Deung Ja, a member of her support group, said, “I was reminded again of the strength of her vitality that drove her to live through suffering beyond one’s imagination during the war. I would also like to express gratitude to the benevolence of her neighbors.”

Song, who hails from South Chungcheong Province, has said she was tricked by a broker at the age of 16 into working at a frontline military brothel in China in 1938. She spent seven years in sexual slavery before coming to live in Japan.

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