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June 28, 2017

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Ma speaks out against Japanese prime minister's Yasukuni visit

TAIPEI -- The Japanese government was rubbing salt in people's wounds when its leaders visited the Yasukuni Shrine last December, President Ma Ying-jeou said on his Facebook page Sunday.

Ma also said it is clear that Japan has shown no repentance over the issue of sexual slavery perpetrated by its soldiers during World War II.

Ma posted the comment a day after he called on Cheng Chen Tao, a former "comfort woman," in Pingtung County, southern Taiwan.

It was third time he had visited Cheng Chen, one of five comfort women still alive in Taiwan, and he was worried about her health, Ma said.

Cheng Chen is a 93-year-old who sold coconut juice for a living in a fruit market and now lives alone. She was one of the many women who were forced to provide sexual services to Japanese soldiers during WWII.

Ma said he gave her a red envelope and a scarf decorated with Taiwan's national flag as New Year presents and promised to return to see her.

World War II ended 69 years ago but the wounds and painful memories have never disappeared for the comfort women, Ma said.

It was unacceptable that Japan's leaders visited the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors convicted war criminals, and it showed a lack of repentance about that part of their country's history, Ma said.

"I feel it was unfair to these comfort women, and the behavior of the Japanese government was regrettable," the president wrote.

As mayor of Taipei 17 years ago, Ma voiced support for Taiwan's comfort women and said that he and the rest of the country would continue to demand justice for them, although the lawsuits against the Japanese government had failed.

Some 2,000 Taiwanese women, as well as others from China, South Korea and the Philippines, were forced into prostitution by Japanese forces during WWII, according to Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation.

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