Li-Hua (Li Su-Zhen), who was believed to be the last known survivor of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery in Taiwan, passed away at the age of 93 on April 7, 2021. Li-Hua suffered extreme hardship during World War II, and had been a symbol of justice and courage in Taiwan.
As a 14-year-old in 1943, Li-Hua was forcibly conscripted into the Japanese military’s sexual slavery system, known as “comfort women,” in Taiwan. For the next two years, she was forced to serve as a sex slave in several military barracks. Li-Hua was eventually freed and returned to her hometown, where she married and had two children and five grandchildren.
In the late 1990s, Li-Hua became one of the leading figures in the movement advocating for the rights of “comfort women” in Taiwan. She testified at various human rights events, sharing her story with the world, and demanded an official apology and reparations from the Japanese government. Throughout her life, Li-Hua remained outspoken about the horrors of wartime sexual slavery, using her story to shed light on the suffering of countless women across Asia who were forced into service.
Li-Hua’s legacy inspired the creation of the Women’s Rescue Foundation, a Taipei-based non-profit organization which actively helps victims of sexual abuse and human trafficking in Taiwan. Her passing marks both a tragic and inspiring end to the life of an extraordinary woman.