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Singer Jackson Browne highlights nuclear dangers ahead of Japan concert

Singer-songwriter Jackson Browne is seen in an interview in Tokyo's Minato Ward in this photo taken on Oct. 12, 2017. (Mainichi)

Jackson Browne, an American singer-songwriter with an anti-nuclear message, is gearing up for his first performance in Japan in 2 1/2 years.

    Browne, 69, is set to play at Bunkamura Orchard Hall in Tokyo's Shibuya district on the evening of Oct. 17.

    A representative singer of the U.S. West Coast, Browne played a leading role in the "No Nukes" concerts held in New York in September 1979 -- the first anti-nuclear rock concerts staged after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident earlier that year.

    In a Tokyo concert on March 11, 2015, four years after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that triggered the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Browne chose for his last song a number titled "Before the Deluge," which hints at nuclear conflict. He dedicated it to the people fighting damage from the nuclear accident. Browne had played the same song in 1979 at No Nukes, which also featured the Doobie Brothers and Bruce Springsteen among other artists.

    He said the song, which came out before the Three Mile Island accident, was not just about nuclear war. "It was compounding ecological disasters, not just nuclear, but also famine and epidemics." As for the prediction of such disasters, he added that there was "no pleasure, no pride, for being right."

    In the summer after the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Browne paid special attention to Japan, and held his first anti-nuclear power plant and support concert in 32 years between the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    He said he was relieved the previous time he came to Japan, as the Fukushima disaster was being reported extensively. He said that in his country, he didn't have newspaper stories every day about the ongoing disaster in Japan and had been told before coming that people were afraid to bring it up.

    "I was surprised that there were so many articles," he said.

    Recently, however, there has been a strong tide running against the "world without nuclear weapons" espoused by former U.S. President Barack Obama with the emergence of his successor, Donald Trump, and the problem of North Korea's development of missiles and nuclear weapons. Separately, the Japanese government is moving ahead with the reactivation of nuclear reactors in western Japan even though the state of melted nuclear fuel at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant remains unknown.

    Browne notes that even if the government and the nuclear plant operator reach an agreement on compensation for those affected by the nuclear disaster, taxpayers would eventually have to foot the bill. "Really no one can make a restitution to people for this country's mistake. In the end there is no country that would insure a nuclear power plant." He expresses reservations about the provocative exchange between North Korea and the United States which seems to toy with the idea of using nukes.

    Since the 1980s, Browne has been involved in sounding the alarm in social and political circles regarding U.S. foreign policy and the pollution of the oceans through the discarding of waste. The singer-songwriter says "songs can do a lot to raise people's spirits," though he adds, "It's not a complete vehicle for the information you need."

    He says it is tough work turning current issues into songs, but adds that Japanese listeners warmly support artists who continue their own style of work.

    Browne will give three performances in Tokyo, and one each in Nagoya, Osaka and Hiroshima, and will be selling his album "The Road East -- Live in Japan."

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