■ A Lady Interperter between U.S. Army interrogators and Korean "Comfort Girls" in Myitkyina
･･････ I talked with Grant Hirabayashi, a Japanese American currently living in Silver Spring, Maryland, who served as a U.S. Army interpreter in Burma. When Myitkyina, Burma fell on 3 August, 1944 to the army led by Joseph S. Stilwell, they found some twenty girls still there. "I don't know how many had been there. I am pretty sure that some of them tried to raft down the Irrawaddy and were killed by Allied marksmen and by fleeing Japanese troops. Anyway, when those girls were picked up by our forces, some one called me and said that there were a 'bunch of girls.' That excited many Chinese and American solders who had not seen a woman for quite some time. But the military police quickly separated them from other prisoners of the war and put them in tents inside guarded barbed wire, which make me think of my parents in the internment camp in the United States.
"I was called in to interpret and interrogate. Though dressed in baggy pants and shapeless tops, many in fear, anxiety and bewilderment, they were quite good looking and some really pretty. An elderly woman wearing a traditional Japanese kimono was with them. I spoke with the Mama-san who translated into Korean. As far as I could tell, all of them were Korean including the Mama-san*1. She spoke Japanese with me but it was heavily accented.
"I noticed that the elderly woman's obi (the traditional sash) was full as if she were pregnant but I knew that she wasn't. She was too old. I cautiously asked her to unwind the obi which she did and out came neatly wrapped bundles of paper currency. She explained that she kept all the girls' money on her person for safe keeping. I picked up a bundle. The bills were still warm but they were Japanese scrip, military issued currency. I felt such pain to see the anxious faces of the Mama-san and the girls. I spoke to the woman as gently as I could, 'Because the Japanese were defeated, this is worthless.' I can't possibly describe the total disbelief slowly turning into despair on their faces."