Dear Prime Minister Abe,
You were looking for evidence. Here is a quilt that Remedios Felias embroidered for me the last time I was in the Philippines in 2001. When you first see the colors and the threads, you might think it's just a beautiful blanket. But look closely, Prime Minister Abe. See the fine detail. Notice the stitches -- the way she uses red, the way the black hair on the doll-like figure is thrown in disarray.
When I first came back from the Philippines, I pulled this little bit of evidence out of my suitcase. I shook it open just long enough for my three year old niece to catch a glimpse. When I saw her standing there I rolled it up. I didn't think she should have to know this story, not at the age of three. But you know what, Prime Minister Abe? She got it anyway. She saw the bayonets and the soldiers and saw the girl being dragged away. On the ride back home, she asked, "Mommy, if I'm pretty enough, will the soldiers leave you and Daddy alone?" She might have heard a snippet of our conversation. She might have noticed the way the figures were placed to tell a story without words, but how does a three year old understand this concept -- If I am pretty enough, will they leave you alone? Perhaps our collective memory is so strong, Prime Minister Abe, that no one can deny the truth, not even a three year old girl, too young to know war.
When you see these images, do you see coercion?
Still waiting to hear if you can meet me in the Philippines. The Lolas of Lila Pilipina look forward to speaking to you, I'm sure.