• Kyodo

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A Chinese woman who joined a lawsuit to seek damages from the Japanese government for repeated rapes by Japanese soldiers during the war has died in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, her supporters in Japan said Thursday.

Wan Aihua, who passed away Wednesday at age 83, had been hospitalized since she suffered a stroke last year, they said.

Wan testified in 1992 about her ordeal as a “comfort woman,” Japan’s euphemism for its wartime sex slaves for the Imperial forces, at an event in Tokyo dealing with wartime damage caused by the Japanese military. Six years later, she filed the suit with nine other Chinese women at a Japanese court.

While rejecting their damages claims, the Tokyo District and High courts acknowledged that the women, who were in their teens and 20s at the time, were raped by multiple Japanese soldiers and expressed hope that the government would resolve the issue.

An appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court in 2005.

Wan repeatedly visited Japan to testify in court while lecturing at citizens’ meetings nationwide.

“Her testimony encouraged other Chinese victims to rise up” to seek reparations for wartime sexual violence, said Eriko Ikeda, a member of the support group. “She made people aware that women were raped and tortured under confinement during wartime.”

Wan’s death leaves only one plaintiff in the suit still alive.

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