I’ll preface everything I write by saying…I’m not a sociologist, so I’ll try to avoid sweeping generalizations best I can. That said…Japan doesn’t strike me as a place where taking stands on controversial issues earns one any points. Every book I’ve read that mentions politics, for example, notes that the Japanese usually avoid political discussions of any sort. This just isn’t the sort of country where tons of people update their Facebook statuses to side with the people of Libya. To bust out an old saying I hear Japanese people reference a lot, “the nail that sticks out gets the hammer.”
Following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the Tohoku region of Japan this past March, plenty of Japanese artists came out strong in support for those affected by these events. Charity songs were arranged, compilation albums with all profits going to charity put out, special concerts put on for the people in the damaged region. All great stuff. Yet a few artists focused on the other, still ongoing incident – the nuclear power plant situation in Fukushima. Recently, the artist COMA-CHI released a song rallying against nuclear power, titled “Say ‘NO’.”
Let’s roll out another big ol’ disclaimer – I’m not gonna touch the issue of nuclear energy, as it’s all over my head (why do you think I write about music?) Go find an energy blog for that. Anyway, “Say” doesn’t even need the news hook of radiation to make a valid point that seemingly gets glossed over a lot in any first-world country – the lyrics, translated into English here, cut first into the shady information Tokyo Electric and the Japanese government have been providing regarding this incident (COMA-CHI even works a dig in against variety shows). Then, as if enlightened by the hysteria caused by the situation north of Tokyo, she zeroes in on the waste of modern life – she points at a society overusing air conditioning, TV and computers among other items and points out how nobody seems to realize where all that energy comes from, wondering “do you really need all that?” One commenter at Tokyo Hive (who first posted this, thanks!) criticizes her for suggesting “we roll back the clock to pre-industrial times,” but I think that’s a bit reactionary and ignores a very valid point COMA-CHI brings up. This could be directed at oil consumption as well, or even warped into a message about wasting other resources. Humanity does waste a whole lot of energy for stuff like 24/7 coolness and Netflix on-demand binges…shouldn’t people think about where all that energy comes from.
Oh, the creepy beat and actual rapping are also really good. A sneakily good song.
Elsewhere, Kazuyoshi Saito changed the lyrics to one of his songs so they’d deal directly with the Fukushima incident. The video ended up online.
Saito’s reworking wheels out a lot of nuclear criticism, but like COMA-CHI’s song he mostly just seems mad at the government for not being honest with Japan. “They’ve cheated us,” goes one line before adding “they’ve shitted us.” His song is also a bit more hysterical – the radiation isn’t really being carried in the wind, unstoppable – but at its core the tune mostly points an angry finger at the people in charge.
Those are the two major anti-nuclear songs I’ve seen…a few others have been mentioned in various places, but I can’t find any online versions of them. If you know of any others, please post ’em in the comments.