Against the background of the decades-long international relations dispute over Japan’s wartime military “comfort women” system, this article explores one of the scant literary representations of comfort women in Japanese literature. Through a close reading of Yū Miri’s Hachigatsu no hate (The End of August, 2004), a family saga written by a female author of Korean descent, the article explores how the novel emerged from, participates in, and critically positions itself with respect to the ongoing ideological battles over war histor(iograph)y. Set mostly in colonial Korea, The End of August presents a challenge to historical revisionism’s desire for a single, document-based narrative, for Yū incorporates a multitude of oral accounts of personally experienced history into a nonlinear, highly fragmented narration. Zooming in on an episode in which a young Korean girl is tricked into sexual slavery, The End of August is read against a number of discursive paradigms that govern the debate on comfort women both in Korea and Japan. The article argues that, by drawing on postcolonial ways of understanding history, memory, and trauma, The End of August gives voice to those whose stories previously went unheard, thus allowing for a reading as a statement against the shelving of inconvenient pasts.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.