Narrator and protagonist. Franklin Hata, affectionately known as Doc Hata, enjoys a reputation as a model citizen in the upper-middle-class town of Bedley Run, where he ran a medical supply store for nearly thirty years. He was born in Japan to Korean parents of few means and raised by a middle-class Japanese couple. Known at the time as Jiro Kurohata, he joined the Imperial Forces and served as a medic in Burma during the final days of World War II. Now in his seventies, Doc Hata has recently retired and struggles with dark memories from his past.
Doc Hata’s adopted daughter. Sunny was orphaned as a young child and raised in a ramshackle orphanage in Japan. She came to the United States at the age of seven and lived with Doc Hata until the age of seventeen, when she left home and became estranged from her adopted father. Sunny has an obstinate and sometimes rebellious personality that strained her relationship with Doc Hata from the beginning. Now in her thirties, Sunny has a young son and develops a tentative new relationship with Doc Hata.
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Comfort woman at Ocean Sky Battalion. Kkutaeh, or “K” as Doc Hata called her, was born to a notable and well-established Korean family. Though her father was a respected scholar and ambassador, the family fell on hard times. When the war flared up and young men were forced to enlist, K’s parents arranged to spare their only son from the fight by volunteering K and her sister instead. The two daughters were sent to work as “comfort women,” which involved providing sex to soldiers and officers in the field. Though Doc Hata fell in love with K, she remained staunchly resistant to his and all other men’s affections.
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Doc Hata’s former love interest. Doc Hata dated Mary Burns for a short time when Sunny was still living with him. A doctor’s widow with children of her own, Mary Burns showed boldness during her courtship with Doc Hata, which both excited and troubled him. Her kind, caring, and maternal manner also made him think she would make a perfect mother figure for Sunny. But Sunny never bonded with her, and their romance faded. Mary died of liver cancer some years later.
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Sunny’s son and Doc Hata’s grandson. Tommy is a rambunctious boy who likes to clown around and show off to his peers. Though at first Sunny doesn’t want him to know that Doc Hata is his grandfather, Tommy quickly grows attached to Doc Hata. Tommy’s happiness helps smooth the reconciliation between Sunny and her father.
Real estate agent and friend to Doc Hata. Despite approaching middle age, Liv remains as energetic and optimistic as ever in her work as a real estate agent in Bedley Run. She has known Doc Hata for years and has persistently inquired about when he might sell his perfectly situated and exquisitely maintained Tudor-style home. Though ambitious in her professional goals and somewhat snobby, Liv shows genuine affection for Doc Hata and concern for his well-being.
Hospital purchasing manager and friend to Doc Hata. Renny’s longstanding friendship with Doc Hata started as a business relationship back when Doc Hata still ran Sunny Medical Supply. Since then, Doc Hata has come to appreciate Renny’s jocular, energetic personality as well as his unflinching forthrightness. Like his sometime-girlfriend, Liv Crawford, Renny genuinely cares about Doc Hata’s well-being and sees him as a father figure.
Current owner of Doc Hata’s medical supply store. James recently moved to Bedley Run with his wife, Anne, and son, Patrick. Despite having no experience running a retail business, the Hickeys purchased Sunny Medical Supply from Doc Hata. But soon after the purchase, they fell on financial hard times as the economy experienced a downturn and their son required expensive medical care due to a congenital heart condition. James grows increasingly depressed and distant in the face of these troubles.
James Hickey’s wife. In spite of her family’s daunting financial and medical troubles, Anne has remained more grounded and gracious than her husband. Whereas James chooses to take out his depression and anger on Doc Hata, Anne befriends the former proprietor of Sunny Medical Supply and leans on him for much-needed emotional support.
Former police officer in Bedley Run. After her officer husband died in a shootout, Sally Como applied to become a police officer herself. Doc Hata did not know her personally at the time, but he used his connections to help her get the job. Ever since, Sally Como has shown Doc Hata a special kindness even when she found herself in conflict with his rebellious adopted daughter, Sunny. Sally recently left the Bedley Run police force and now works as a security guard at the shopping center in the neighboring township of Ebbington.
Sally Como’s daughter. When not in school, Veronica works in one of the local hospitals as a candy striper, selling magazines and books to patients. She meets Doc Hata while he’s in the hospital for smoke inhalation. Doc Hata feels energized by her bright and spirited youthfulness.
A juvenile delinquent. Jimmy used to have a decrepit house on the outskirts of Bedley Run. He had a reputation for selling cocaine to high schoolers and hosting parties with sex and hard drugs. Sunny lived at Jimmy’s house for several weeks during her quarrel with Doc Hata, but she left when he tried to sexually assault her.
Sunny’s first boyfriend. Lincoln, also referred to as “Linc,” met Sunny through Jimmy Gizzi. Sunny went to live with Lincoln in New York City after an incident when Jimmy tried to sexually assault her and Lincoln defended her by stabbing Jimmy. Though Lincoln was likely the father of Sunny’s first child, it isn’t clear whether he is Tommy’s father.
Medical officer in the Imperial Forces. Doc Hata knew Lieutenant Enchi in Singapore while they were waiting for their first deployment. Enchi was sent to Borneo, and he died when a mortar round exploded outside the medical station where he worked.
Medical officer in the Imperial Forces. Doc Hata knew Lieutenant Fujimori in Singapore while they were waiting for their first deployment. Fujimori possessed a dark and sometimes morbid sensibility that made Doc Hata uncomfortable.
Chief medical officer in the Ocean Sky Battalion. Captain Ono was Doc Hata’s superior officer during his deployment in Burma. Though Ono showed great ingenuity in developing new techniques for field surgery, he also possessed a stern and frequently violent temperament that kept his inferiors in a constant state of fear.
Lower-ranking officer in the Ocean Sky Battalion. Corporal Endo was stationed with Doc Hata in Burma. Known in the camp for his collection of pornographic images, Endo had an almost neurotic obsession with sex that made Doc Hata worry for the young man’s psychological stability.
Commanding officer in the Ocean Sky Battalion. Colonel Ishii ran the camp where Doc Hata was stationed in Burma. He had a harsh and imposing personality, but in times with no active fighting, Captain Ono dosed Ishii heavily with morphine, which kept him docile.
Caretaker for the comfort women at Ocean Sky Battalion. Mrs. Matsui was the middle-aged Japanese caretaker who accompanied the comfort women sent to the Ocean Sky Battalion camp. Her job was to keep the young women fed and healthy enough to perform their duties, though she showed little pity for their traumatic situation.