Summary: Chapter 8
In 1944, Doc Hata, then known as Lieutenant Jiro Kurohata, was deployed as a field medic in Burma. His comrades were all preoccupied with women, and one man in particular, Corporal Endo, had an especially strong obsession with collecting pornographic images of Western women. Doc Hata felt that Endo was more pleased than he should have been by the pictures, but he attributed Endo’s unusual conduct to the growing sense of fear that had saturated the camp.
One day, Endo approached Doc Hata and requested to be among the first to greet the female volunteers who were scheduled to arrive soon. Doc Hata responded that the officer corps would take responsibility for getting the volunteers settled and that enlisted men would receive tickets for the queue later. He encouraged Endo put away his pictures and visit one of the women when his turn came. He also reminded him that he and the other soldiers were there to defend a way of life.
A few days later a convoy arrived carrying provisions as well as a group of five teenage girls, accompanied by an older madam. Doc Hata wondered how just five girls were supposed to serve nearly two hundred men. Captain Ono, the camp’s head physician and Doc Hata’s superior officer, ordered the girls to march toward the “comfort house” that had been constructed for them, and when one of them hesitated, he struck her.
Later that night, Doc Hata walked around the camp and thought about his new duty to look after the girls’ medical needs. Corporal Endo approached Doc Hata wanting to talk about the girls. He and the other soldiers had drawn lots for the visitation queue, and he had drawn the first position. But Endo said that when he saw the girls, he realized he couldn’t visit them.
Doc Hata and Endo reached the hut of the commanding officer, Colonel Ishii. Ishii himself was standing on the porch, naked and trying to coax one of the girls out from under the hut. The girl said she wanted to be with her sister, Kkutaeh—a Korean name Doc Hata knew to mean “bottom” or “last.” Ishii said that Kkutaeh had to stay in the infirmary to make sure her face hadn’t been injured. The girl came out from under the porch and went into the hut, and suddenly Ishii’s demeanor toward her and the other girls in the hut turned violent.
Just then, Endo sprinted into the jungle, and the sentry posted outside Ishii’s door shot in Endo’s direction. Ishii then came out with a pistol and shot the sentry. He ordered corporals to remove the body and told Doc Hata to take care of the matter.