One more victim of Japan's wartime sex slavery dies

SEOUL, Aug. 11 (Yonhap) -- One more Korean woman who was forced into sexual slavery by Japan during World War II died Sunday, a civic group said, raising concerns that the aging victims may die before receiving compensation or apologies from Tokyo.

At the age of 87, Lee Yong-nyeo died earlier in the day, according to the House of Sharing, which runs a shelter for the victims of Japan's forced sexual enslavement. The shelter and other relevant facilities, including a history museum, are located in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, just southeast of Seoul.

Her death put the number of South Korea's surviving, government-registered former comfort women -- another term for the victims -- at 57, the group said. Initially, a total of 234 victims were on the list.

After being deceived by Japanese officials who pledged her a job in Japan, Lee had been forced to work at a military brothel in Yangon, Myanmar for about six years from the age of 16, according to the group.

"She suffered from the post-traumatic stress disorder along with several other diseases. But she had been proactive in letting the world know the bare facts about Japan's atrocities," an official from the group said.

Historians say up to 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were coerced into sexual slavery at front-line Japanese military brothels during World War II.

Seoul has increased pressure on Tokyo to resolve the long-standing grievances, saying the issue is becoming increasingly urgent, as most victims are well over 80 years old and may die before they receive an apology or compensation from Japan.

The former colonialist country, however, has been ignoring calls for official talks on the issue, claiming all matters regarding its 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula were settled in a 1965 package compensation deal under which the two countries normalized their relations.

Political parties expressed their condolences for her death, calling on Japan to take appropriate actions for the victims.

"It is beyond deplorable that Lee passed away failing to receive any apology from Japan," ruling Saenuri Party spokesperson Min Hyun-joo said.

"It is so natural that an inflictor extend apologies for victims and seek their pardon. We urge Japan once again to make sincere apologies and provide due compensation for the elderly women."

The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) also called Lee's passing "heart-breaking," and said it is "sorry for her death, only several days before the country's Liberation Day celebration" that falls on Aug. 15.

"The DP will make sure an unshakable South Korea exacts an apology from Japan for its historical atrocities," its spokesman Park Yong-jin said.

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