Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Jessica Viana: Helping To Keep History From Repeating Itself

Aloha, Hip Hapa Homeez!

It’s hard to believe that one year ago this September, we were on a road trip to 11 cities, in three states, filming Japanese war brides and their families. Among our interviewees were two historians; one—Regina F. Lark—who had written a 450-page dissertation on the subject of Japanese war brides.

In this post, Your Hip Hapa would like to present another important historian. Because so much of world history has not always been good, it’s crucial to know what’s behind us so we can avoid repeating it. And Jessica Viana, a native of Portugal, intends to do what she can to make sure of that.

Here’s her story in her own words:

Jessica snapping photos in Madrid
“I am writing a historical fiction novel about WWII Japan which focuses, apart from the whole society panorama of the time, on the secret biowarfare research units that the Japanese developed and concealed across their occupied territories in China. I've considered giving it the title of White Souls, reflecting the racial aspect of the Second Sino-Japanese War as a whole, which coincided with WWII in time.

I heard about the secret Japanese biowarfare research units through my History teacher in my senior year of high school. He introduced the topic in the way that showed he was shocked at how almost nobody knew about it and how close it was in proportion to the dimension of the German camps and experiments. I became instantly drawn to the subject, and in the next summer the idea of writing a novel persisted in my head, with that topic never fading away.

Jessica in Oriente, Lisbon
I have never visited Japan, although I am fascinated by Japanese culture and tradition. Contrary to my generation's manga and anime fans, I have never watched too many random Japanese films or anime series, but I appreciate the Japanese art of filmmaking and it always reminds me of how different the Eastern and Western worlds are—and that in certain aspects, the Japanese have evolved far earlier than Western countries.

Buddha Eden Garden in Portugal
In my process of writing this novel, besides living my normal life of studying and working, I have spent two years collecting and analysing research papers, books and films/documentaries, which don't seem to ever end! Despite having found out that in Japan people try to bring this to the public’s knowledge, I still believe there isn't enough coverage of these important historical events in the English-speaking world, and I hope that my work—once released one day—will help build some understanding. I do not mean to blame any parties, as much as I simply want to do my work as a writer, which I believe is to portray the truth.

Praia dos Beijinhos (Little Kisses Beach) in Algarve, Portugal
In order to depict the reality of a society which, to me, is slowly coming out of the dark, I have approached a few people with family and/or friends who might have experienced the WWII years first-hand or knew someone who did. These stories are the purest gold you could ever give me, as the detail of recalling an episode of one's life always brings so much more than what's documented in books.”

Arrigatou, Jessica! If any of you in our Watermelon Sushi World have personal family stories about WWII, please contact us and we’ll put you in touch with Jessica.

Meanwhile, we’ve added some new crew to the War Brides of Japan documentary:

Below, on the left, is Alfred Chan, an animator who recently helped bring my illustrations to life.

On the right is LA CAt, an amazing musician currently composing music for the War Brides of Japan documentary.

Alfred Chan
And, here are the usual links to learn more about the film:

War Brides of Japan videos:

War Brides of Japan websites:

War Brides of Japan in the news:

War Brides of Japan on Facebook:

War Brides of Japan on LinkedIn:

War Brides of Japan on Twitter:

War Brides of Japan on G+:

War Brides of Japan blogs:

A War Bride's artwork:

We’re still accepting your 100% tax deductible donations, so please check out our Network for Good account to make your contribution.

Until next quarter, ja!

Your Hip Hapa,