Writer of lyrics to antinuclear song in Kazakhstan sings in Hiroshima Peace Park, calls for abolition of nuclear weapons

by Luan Xiaoyu, Staff Writer

Ulugbek Yesdaulet, 63, who wrote the lyrics to Zaman-ai, a song that became a symbol for the antinuclear movement in Kazakhstan, visited the Peace Memorial Park in downtown Hiroshima and sang the song on November 15. The Central Asian country was the location of the former Soviet Union’s largest nuclear test site. Mr. Yesdaulet commented that Kazakhstan and Japan, both of which suffered damage from nuclear weapons, should join hands and share the desire to eliminate these weapons with more people in the world.

Along with four former lawmakers of the country, Mr. Yesdaulet toured the Peace Memorial Museum and visited the A-bomb Dome. In front of the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims, they sang the song with members of the Hiroshima Semipalatinsk Project, a local citizens’ group that provides medical assistance to radiation victims in Kazakhstan.

Zaman-ai means “Oh Such Times” in the local language. Its melancholy tune expresses the sorrow of radiation victims and those who were forced to leave their homeland. The song has been widely sung as a symbol of the antinuclear movement that gained momentum in 1989.

Semipalatinsk, Mr. Yesdaulet’s hometown, is now called Semey. It is believed that more than 1.5 million people have suffered from health problems as a consequence of the more than 450 nuclear tests conducted there. Mr. Yesdaulet said that he hopes to hand down the memories of this nuclear testing through the song.

(Originally published on November 16, 2017)