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Comfort woman in China dies, less than 20 remain alive, report says

The Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in China said former comfort woman Liu Rongfang has died. Japanese forces invaded the city of Nanjing in 1937 and invaded Hunan Province in 1944, when Liu may have been captured, according to Chinese state media. File Photo by Michael Reynolds/EPA
The Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in China said former comfort woman Liu Rongfang has died. Japanese forces invaded the city of Nanjing in 1937 and invaded Hunan Province in 1944, when Liu may have been captured, according to Chinese state media. File Photo by Michael Reynolds/EPA

July 6 (UPI) -- A former comfort woman in China has died, leaving less than 20 survivors of Japanese wartime brothels in the country, according to Chinese state media.

China Central Television reported Monday Liu Rongfang, 90, died on Saturday, citing the official social media account of the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, a museum located near a site where thousands of bodies were buried following the invasion of Japanese troops in 1937.

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According to state media, Liu was only 14 when she was forcibly taken to the city of Xiangtan in Hunan Province. Japanese troops began to rape and beat her following her abduction. In 1944, Japan had invaded Hunan in the Battle of Changsha, toward the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War during World War II.

Liu was in poor health in her later years. In June 2017, Liu and former comfort woman Liu Cizhen were reunited after 30 years, an event that caught the attention of Chinese media at the time.

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China has said comfort women were forcibly recruited to Japanese military quarters during Japan's incursions into continental Asia during World War II.

Comfort women in China, Taiwan and the Philippines have been less vocal in demanding compensation and redress from the Japanese government than in South Korea, where the women have participated in rallies and activists have influenced South Korean government policy.

In Taiwan, activists for comfort women may be struggling for financial support.

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Taipei-based Central News Agency reported Monday the nation's sole comfort women museum is to close in November.

The Ama Museum, founded in 2016, has incurred operating losses for years and is coping with the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the report.

"Ama" means grandmother in the Taiwanese Hokkien dialect.

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