Hiroshima resident to sing song against nuclear testing in Kazakhstan

by Luan Xiaoyu, Staff Writer

On May 21, Ryoko Michida, 43, a resident of Asaminami Ward, will visit Kazakhstan, where the largest nuclear test site of the former Soviet Union was located. This will be Ms. Michida’s first trip to Kazakhstan. In Hiroshima, Ms. Michida has often sung a song that has become a symbol for a campaign in Kazakhstan which protests nuclear testing. She will sing this song at an event in Kazakhstan with the hope that this will help deepen ties between Kazakhstan and Japan, both of which have experienced the catastrophic effects of nuclear technology.

The song is called “Zaman-ai,” translated to “Oh Such Times” in English. It has a melancholy tune and expresses the sorrow and sadness of the victims of the nuclear tests and those who have been forced to leave their homes forever. The song is widely sung in Kazakhstan.

Ms. Michida, a former member of a well-known theater company called “The Shiki,” founded a non-profit organization in 2006 which pursues efforts to pass on the experiences of the atomic bombing through musicals, and has been singing “Zaman-ai” ever since. She was invited to a national event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the relocation of Kazakhstan’s capital and she will sing the Japanese version of “Zaman-ai.”

At the nuclear test site near the city of Semipalatinsk (now known as Semey), more than 450 nuclear tests were conducted between 1949 and 1989, potentially risking damage to the health of more than 1.5 million people.

Ms. Michida is also a member of the Hiroshima Semipalatinsk Project, a local citizens’ group that provides medical assistance to radiation victims in Kazakhstan. She hopes that her voice and her songs, into which she imbues the sorrow and sadness of the people of Hiroshima and Kazakhstan, will help spread the wish for eliminating nuclear weapons. Ms. Michida will take with her to Kazakhstan one thousand paper cranes made by citizens of Hiroshima.

(Originally published on May 17, 2018)