Korean-American author Kalliope Lee is, born in Seoul, Korea and moved to the United States with her family as a child, responded to an Associated Press story that quoted an outspoken Japanese mayor who said “the Japanese military’s forced prostitution of Asian women before and during World War II was necessary to ‘maintain discipline’ in the ranks and provide rest for soldiers who risked their lives in battle.”
When Lee first heard of “comfort women” the young Korean girls abducted by the Japanese army during World War II, taken from their homes to serve as sex slaves for the soldiers – she became determined to speak for them, these women whose voices had been unjustly stifled for years. It was from this desire that Lee penned Sunday Girl, a novel that breaks down the shame-induced silence that perforates this scandal.
Lee said Hashimoto were incendiary.
“I think that Japan still has a lot of healing to do after WWII. The nation and its leaders must address its record of war crimes in an honest, open and humble way. They must sincerely confess their wrongdoings and apologize to those to whom they’ve caused enormous suffering.
Otherwise, the generations to come will inherit this unresolved guilt, and it will permeate the soul of the land and its people. Suffering will only continue in new forms; and healing with never happen. Which is so indescribably unjust to the innocent children born after the war, and the enormous potential of their lives.
Osaka mayor Toru Hashimoto has effectively stanched the progress that Japan has made in coming to terms with their past and thus their national healing. His words are hubristic and childishly petulant in their failure to consider their deleterious consequences. Not only as a disservice to his own nation, but to the rapprochement between Japan and Korea and the welfare of the international community.
That Hashimoto felt compelled to publicly voice his views is to me a sign of knee-jerk defensiveness. It is a patent attempt to cover up and assuage the shame of what the Japanese Army did to the “comfort women.” His vociferous claim that the brutal and inhumane destruction of 200,000 women’s lives was “necessary” is chillingly reminiscent of history’s most heinous dictators.
The scars and wounds of history will not just go away, nor can they be so defensively covered up with jingoistic clap-trap. They remain in the blood like a virus and must be cured. It is a debt that must be paid. This is a main theme in my novel, Sunday Girl, which addresses the very tragedy of these comfort women and the wounds that haunt the blood through generations.”
Kalliope Lee studied Classical Literatures and Languages as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, focusing on Greek Tragedy and Ancient Greek language. She was the recipient of the Presidential Fellowship to study in the PhD program in Classics at Columbia University. She had begun a PhD in the Classics, and received an MA before going on to get her MFA in the Creative Writing Program at NYU. www.kalliopelee.com
Sunday Girl can be purchased as an ebook from amazon.com and Smashword.