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Japan music label releases track with rap on horrors of Nagasaki A-bomb

A screen grab of a scene from the music video for "Maibotsu no Daibensha" (Buried voice) taken from YouTube. Taro Yamaguchi is in the front, center.

NAGASAKI -- An experimental piece of music with raplike lyrics that mention the horrors of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and other historical events has been released by a music label in the southwestern prefecture of Saga.

    The track "Maibotsu no Daibensha" (Buried voice), released by music label METSUJP, refers to the Aug. 9. 1945 atomic bombing of the city with Japanese lyrics such as, "8.9 1945 do you know what that means?" and, "The small sun took everything away; the large moon lit up the wreckage." With a deep bass beat, it expresses resistance to memories of the bombing being forgotten.

    METSUJP was founded in 2020 by Hideyuki Nishi, 37, based in the city of Saga, and 42-year-old artist SATOL aka BeatLive, based in the western Japan prefecture of Osaka.

    The music label has been producing tracks based on Japanese culture, but its latest focuses on the theme of war, because the founders thought, "Japanese history cannot be isolated from war." They explored ways of expression that would appeal to generations that have no interest in war. The lyrics were written by those including Taro Yamaguchi, 35, who was once a vocalist for a metal band in Fukuoka in southwestern Japan, but is now based in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture.

    Yamaguchi and SATOL visited local bomb shelters and closely read records left by A-bomb survivors at the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. They came to the understanding that war could not be expressed through smooth-sounding talk, and made the decision to purposefully include cruel expressions in the lyrics. The dates of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and the firebombing of Sasebo, as well as the numbers of casualties were incorporated into the lyrics.

    A screen grab of a scene from the music video for "Maibotsu no Daibensha" (Buried voice) taken from YouTube.

    The resulting music video has been released on YouTube and other platforms. In the video, Yamaguchi and SATOL sing with young people from Nagasaki and Hiroshima who have gathered at bomb shelters and gun battery remains in Sasebo in the background. Some parts of the video are also narrated.

    "I continue to pass down the message/This is just a point of passage/Even if I'm spent, until I lose my voice." "Break the cycle of sadness/There can be no more fighting." "I can hear lives being ground down/Don't cover your ears/Don't look away." These are some of the lyrics that Yamaguchi shouts along to a unique rhythm that SATOL has created by incorporating dance music from South Africa and the U.S.

    Yamaguchi, who now runs a bar near a U.S. naval base in his hometown of Sasebo, has U.S. soldiers who visit his bar listen to his track and explains to them what the lyrics mean in English. Some of them look conflicted, but Yamaguchi says, "They all accept it calmly."

    The CD of the track gained popularity among people primarily in their 30s and 40s, and all 400 copies have sold out. The generation who are the most busy with work have given the artists positive feedback, including, "It gave me a chance to stop and think about war."

    "It's OK to have unresolved feelings," Yamaguchi says. "I just hope people don't stop thinking."

    See the music video at:

    (Japanese original by Atsuki Nakayama, Nagasaki Bureau)

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