THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
January 6, 2020 at 17:50 JST
GINOWAN, Okinawa Prefecture--Musician Ryuichi Sakamoto and actress Sayuri Yoshinaga brought their pro-peace message to Okinawa for their first charity concert in the prefecture on Jan. 5.
The two staged the show as this year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.
A capacity crowd at the Okinawa Convention Center here took in the performance, titled “For peace--sea, poems and music,” which featured Yoshinaga reciting poems accompanied by Sakamoto on the piano.
Sakamoto said he was delighted the pair could finally bring their long-time collaboration to Okinawa.
“My long-held dream came true,” Sakamoto said during the show's first half. “I came to Okinawa Prefecture for the first time in 18 years. It’s my first performance here.”
The audience was in for a special treat. The world-renowned artist played seven pieces for the solo piano, including ones he hasn't released.
Sakamoto also made comments during the event that appeared to side with Okinawans who oppose the continued use of the prefecture by U.S. forces.
Between songs, Sakamoto mentioned Kamejiro Senaga (1907-2001), a politician involved in the protest movement in the prefecture against the U.S. occupation after World War II.
“Depending how you look at it, it seems little has changed since his time, and I don’t like it,” Sakamoto said.
Yoshinaga took the stage for the concert's second half.
Though she has performed around the country with Sakamoto, Yoshinaga told the crowd that finally getting to play in Okinawa was particularly special.
“I always wanted to hold a concert in Okinawa Prefecture someday,” she said.
Accompanied by Sakamoto on the piano, Yoshinaga read poems about the prefecture and four poems for peace.
Children recite the poems for peace during an annual ceremony on June 23 to pay tribute to those who died in the 1945 Battle of Okinawa.
The concert was hosted by an executive committee comprised of the Himeyuri Peace Museum, the local newspaper The Okinawa Times and other organizations.
After each organization separately entreated Yoshinaga to hold a recital or visit the prefecture, her management suggested they join together to form an executive committee. She then invited Sakamoto to join in.
All revenue from the concert will be donated to an organization in the prefecture that promotes peace.
A 70-year-old Urasoe city resident who attended the show viewed Yoshinaga's decision to perform in Okinawa as an act of political bravery.
“I was encouraged because such an amazing star like Yoshinaga stood by Okinawans by crossing a border with the main island of Honshu. I was really moved,” the woman said.
For the past 30 years, Yoshinaga, who was born in March 1945, has given poetry readings about the atomic bombings as part of volunteer work to promote peace. Yoshinaga said she feels it is her mission to do so as an artist who was born in the year the war ended.
As well as their shows in Japan, Yoshinaga and Sakamoto have done joint concerts abroad, performing in Britain in 2011 and Canada in 2016.
(This article was written by Kazuyuki Ito and Sei Ito.)
Visit this page for the latest news on Japan’s battle with the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Cooking experts, chefs and others involved in the field of food introduce their special recipes intertwined with their paths in life.
Here is a collection of first-hand accounts by “hibakusha” atomic bomb survivors.
The Asahi Shimbun aims “to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” through its Gender Equality Declaration.
Let’s explore the Japanese capital from the viewpoint of wheelchair users and people with disabilities with Barry Joshua Grisdale.