Japan: Indie Music Rocks the Nukes

This page is part of our special coverage Japan Earthquake 2011.

With a spreading nuclear crisis and related issues such as radiation fears, new energy policies on the horizon and an uncertain future for the operating reactors, Japanese netizens have started a revival of music videos with a clear anti-nuclear message.

Below is a ‘hit parade’ of the biggest successes [with English subtitles] whose genres go from reggae, to folk, to rock music. Here too is a complete list [ja] of the most popular anti-nuclear Japanese songs of all time.

You Can't See It, And You Can't Smell It Either by Rankin & Dub Ainu Band.

The song spells out the dangers of nuclear power and was produced by Rankin Taxi who is considered one of the forefathers of hip-hop in Japan and the Dub Ainu Band, whose musicians belong to the Ainu minority.

Summertime Blues by RC Succession.

After the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, this song – first released in the mid-80s – now is considered prophetic. According to the Youtube user who subtitled the video, the song “was scheduled to be released by Toshiba EMI on 6th August 1988, but the release was suddenly canceled.” August 6th marks the anniversary of the dropping, on the city of Hiroshima, of the first atomic bomb.

Love Me Tender, by RC Succession.

This song also was apparently produced in the mid-80s, after the Chernobyl accident. RC Succession's frontleader, Kiyoshi Imawano (忌野清志郎), revised the original Elvis Presley song making the Japanese lyrics sound like the English words.

It Was a Lie All Along, by Kazuyoshi Saito (斉藤和義).

In this song the singer denounces the myth of safety that has accompanied nuclear power in Japan for over 40 years.
The lyrics of this song have already been translated by Global Voices and can be found here.


Let’s Join TEPCO , by anonymous.

This song is a revised version of the famous anti-war folk song Let's Join the Self-Defense Forces (Jieitai ni Hairou) performed by Takada Wataru in 1968.

As explained Paul at Tokyo Progressive – who is also the author of the translation below -, “the title, ‘Tōden ni hairō (東電に入ろう)’ in Japanese, puns on “tōden ni hairo (倒電に廃炉),” which means ‘Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power company or Tōden) overthrow, nuclear decommissioning.'”

Among all of you people here
who wish to join Tōkyō Electric?
who wish to try your chance?
Tōden’s looking for men of ability.
I want to join Tōden, Tōden, Tōden
I want to join Tōden, it’s a place I adore,
the manliest of men all without exception
join Tōden and scatter like blossoms.

Those of you wishing to engage in atomic power
please come over to Tōden any time.
Uranium, Plutonium, we have everything
Just use subcontracting, and all’s fine.
Those of you who promote nuclear power generation
please gather beneath a nuclear reactor,
nothing immediately affects your health
fine if you shower and wash it away.
Nuclear power plants mean clean energy
Plutonium isn’t such a scary thing
it may emit radioactivity
but its half life is only four and twenty thousand years.
To support Japan’s energy
we must depend upon nuclear power,
some amount of radiation exposure can’t be helped
just drink povidone iodine and you’re all fine.
Collect all spent energy rods
and pack them away in drums, and we’re safe,
we’ll cool them in Rokkasho-mura’s pools
all you need is a mere 300 years of patience.
Water’s leaking but don’t make fuss
smoke is spewing but don’t panic
roofs blew away but we’re absolutely safe
anyway we’re cooling the unit with salt water.
It’s not that anything’s in imminent danger
let’s throw away both milk and vegetables,
government higherups are saying:
let’s use taxes to pay for the damages
Geiger counters all sold out
you have no need to own such things,
we’ll announce radiation values
believe and thou shalt be saved.

This page is part of our special coverage Japan Earthquake 2011.

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