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'Comfort Woman' Who Bore Witness to Nanjing Massacre Passes Away
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Lei Guiying, one of the last surviving "comfort women" abused by the Japanese army during World War II, died in Nanjing City of Jiangsu Province yesterday aged 79.


Lei passed away after brain hemorrhage in the province's Chinese Medicine Hospital after being admitted last Sunday.


Before her death, Lei was the only woman alive in Nanjing who spoke out about her horrific ordeal. Her death is a crippling blow since with her passes a vital account of the atrocities, historians said.


At the age of 13, Lei was raped by a Japanese soldier and press-ganged into a Japanese-run brothel on the outskirts of Nanjing for two years. She later managed to escape but she was scarred and unable to have children.


After concealing the truth for 60 years, even from her family and friends, she finally came forward last year.


"It's been more than 60 years now. I'm old and I didn't want to talk about such a shameful thing to other people. But then I thought, if I don't talk about it, they (Japanese WWII army) will get off too easily," she had said. "I need to let the world know the crimes they committed in Nanjing and I need them to address the issue."


In an interview last month with the Times, Lei spoke of her intention to sue the Japanese government for war crimes.


Jing Shenghong, a history professor at Nanjing Normal University, said that her testimony was vital and that her passing was an irreplaceable loss.


"There is a lot of material evidence to prove the existence of the sex slave quarters in Nanjing, but human accounts are scant," Jing said. "Lei was a brave woman, and should be respected by all of us. It's a huge loss to all of us," said an anonymous mourner outside the hospital.


An estimated 200,000 women were seized as sex slaves by Japanese forces during WWII.


(Xinhua News Agency April 26, 2007)

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