Thursday, December 24, 2015

Peace for 70 years and infinity: MESSAGE FROM JAPAN to ASIAN COUNTRIES AND THE WORLD, 2015.

Via  SEALDs (Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy) Japan:
Published on Dec 24, 2015

《Peace for 70 years and infinity: MESSAGE FROM JAPAN to ASIAN COUNTRIES AND THE WORLD, 2015.》

Happy X'mas そして、そろそろ今年も終わりですね。SEALDsで今年を締めくくる動画をつくりま­した。思えば激動の一年でした。法案は可決されましたが、今年得られたものはたくさん­あるはずです。戦後から70年。そして71年を迎え、戦後から100年たっても戦争し­ない国であることを願います。困難な時代にこそ希望があると信じて。そして一歩踏み出­す勇気を。

Seventy years have passed since the end of war. The peace and prospect of post-war Japan were led by profound sacrifice of the war. We support the pacifist constitution of this country and use it for peacebuilding in north-east Asia and the world. Liberty, democracy, and universal human rights; these values are not just imagination. They are the important seeds that we were given by the past for defending liberty of people and constructing sustainable peace. The ideal of Japanese Constitution never loses its power unless we give it up. With intelligence and reason, we continue to claim for peace and respect for liberty and democracy in Asian Countries.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

10,000 sing Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" — Japan's Beloved Anthem of Peace

This is a video of the Osaka "Number Nine Chorus"—10,000 singers who perform "Ode to Joy" (originally named "Ode to Freedom") every December. The soloists and orchestra are professionals; however the rest are singers from the community.

The Japanese love of "Ode to Joy," the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, began during the First World War, when German prisoners of war performed the Ninth Symphony for the first time in Japan in 1918.

The Japanese nickname for the uplifting movement — "Daiku" ("Number 9") — alludes to Article 9, the Japanese Constitution's Peace Clause which outlaws war as a means of conflict resolution.  Beethoven's  lyrics are from a poem celebrating human unity by Frederick Schiller.  The 19th-century century German philosopher was preoccupied by the quest for freedom and human rights. Like many of his era (which spanned the American Revolution), he championed political ideals based not on coercion and tyrannical brute force, but instead by reason, goodwill, dialogue, and democratic process.

Worldwide, "Ode to Joy" has long been considered a peace anthem, a song of resistance to not just war, but also state repression. Chilean democracy demonstrators sang the song during PInochet's dictatorship. Chinese protesters sang it during the march on Tiananmen Square. This year, the music and lyrics are even more meaningful to the Japanese and Okinawan supporters of democracy and Article 9, the Japanese Constitution's Peace Clause.

...Brother love binds man to man
Ever singing march we onward
Victors in the midst of strife
Joyful music lifts us onward
In the triumph song of life...

Human rights attorney Scott Horton tells us that Beethoven was drawn to Schiller's writings because the composer longed for liberty, however omitted the "deeper, more political charge" of the final stanzas of "Ode to Joy" to veil his challenge to the repressive Hapsburg regime from which he received patronage.
...the work is radical and blatantly political in its orientation...It imagines a world whose nations live in peace with one another, embracing the dignity of their species as a fundamental principle, and democracy as the central chord of their organization. Its long appeal to Beethoven lay in just this intensely subversive, revolutionary core. To start with, as Leonard Bernstein reminded his audiences, the poem was originally an “Ode to Freedom” and the word “Joy” (Freude instead of Freiheit, added to the third pillar, Freundschaft [Friendship] came as a substitute for the more overtly political theme...

Beethoven reckoned, of course, that his audience knew the whole text, just as he knew it, by heart. He was by then a crotchety old man, Beethoven, but he knew the power of a dream, and he inspired millions with it, to the chagrin of his Hapsburg sponsors.

Schiller’s words are perfectly fused with Beethoven’s music. It may indeed be the most successful marriage in the whole shared space of poetry and music. It is a message of striking universality which transcends the boundaries of time and culture. It is well measured in fact to certain turningpoints in the human experience.
Some of the lines from Schiller's poem omitted from "Ode to Joy":

...Persist with courage, millions!
Stand firm for a better world!
...Deliver us from tyrants’ chains...

(-JD, originally posted Dec. 25, 2014, reposted because the themes are even more important for Japan, Okinawa, and the entire world given heightened popular activism for freedom, liberty, human rights, democracy, and peace, in the face of growing global state authoritarianism and militarized repression of nonviolent citizen movements.)