TV & Radio
Satirized Anthem Spreads in Japan
By Kim Rahn
Japanese protesting their national anthem are satirizing the song by secretly turning its lyrics into English words, according to a Japanese newspaper.
The Sankei Shimbun reported on Monday that the satirical song has been spread as a new sabotage weapon of protest among groups that object to hanging the national flag or singing the national anthem, the Kimigayo.
The English parody of the anthem, titled ``Kiss Me,’’ takes the syllables of each word of the Japanese original and turns them into phonetically similar English words.
Due to the phonetic similarity, it is hard to detect whether a person is singing the original Kimigayo or the parody. Many teachers and students, who think the anthem arouses nationalism and militarism, sing the latter one at school entrance or graduation ceremonies, the newspaper said.
For example, the first verse of the national anthem ``Kimigayo wa’’ becomes ``Kiss me girl, your old one,’’ in reference to ``comfort women’’ _ women who were forced into sexual slavery during World War II.
The original anthem wishes Japanese Emperor a thousand years’ of happy reign. But the satirized version implies that a girl who met a former comfort woman sympathizes with the woman and wants the truth revealed.
The lyrics are ``Kiss me girl, your old one. Till you’re near, it is years till you’re near. Sounds of the dead will she know? She wants all told, now retained, for cold caves know the moon’s seeing the mad and dead.’’
The writer of the song remains unknown.
The Kimigayo was scrapped in 1945 after Japan was defeated in World War II. But in 1999, the Japanese government again recognized the national anthem and national flag, obliging teachers and students to hoist the national flag and sing the Kimigayo during school events such as entrance ceremonies.
Hundreds of teachers have been punished for refusing to follow the order.
Since the law was legislated, many parody anthems have been made and ``Kiss Me’’ has spread through the Internet since school graduation season in February, the newspaper reported.
A Web site of a group opposing the obligatory anthem said the song is the masterpiece of Kimigayo parodies, adding it is a small pillar of protest in the hearts of people who are forced to sing the anthem.
Japan's rebels sing out with English parody of anthem
Justin McCurry in Tokyo
Tuesday May 30, 2006
Japanese who object to being forced to sing their country's national anthem have a secret weapon: the English language. Kiss Me, an English parody of the Kimigayo, has spread through the internet and was sung by teachers and pupils at recent school entrance and graduation ceremonies, local media reported yesterday.
The song, whose composer remains a mystery, takes the syllables of each word of the Japanese original and turns them into phonetically similar English words, allowing non-conformist singers to escape detection. For example, "Kimigayo wa" becomes "Kiss me girl, your old one".
Weeks after a British music producer caused uproar in the US with a Spanish version of the Star-Spangled Banner, the conservative newspaper Sankei Shimbun denounced the new song as an attempt to "sabotage" Japan's traditional anthem.
Leftwing teachers unions regard Kimigayo, which is based on an ancient poem wishing the emperor a "thousand years of happy reign", as a symbol of Japan's militarist past. The controversial anthem was not legally recognised until 1999, and in 2003 the Tokyo metropolitan government, led by the rightwing governor Shintaro Ishihara, ordered teachers to stand and sing it at school ceremonies. Hundreds of teachers have been punished for refusing to follow the order.
The English lyrics have a serious political twist: they apparently refer to the tens of thousands of Asian "comfort women" who were forced to work in Japanese military brothels during the second world war.
A website run by a group opposing the anthem said it hoped the parody would "become a small pillar of opposition in people's hearts".
A member of another anti-Kimigayo group in Tokyo said she had "absolutely no idea" who was behind the song. "It's certainly nothing to do with us," she said.
Foes give 'Kimigayo' sarcastic spin
By AKEMI NAKAMURA
The Japan Times: Tuesday, May 30, 2006
A citizens' group opposed to the government's adoption of the Hinomaru as the national flag and "Kimigayo" as the anthem has posted two sarcastic alternatives in awkward English of the song on its Web site, ruffling the feathers of officials and conservative lawmakers.
The group "hopes the lyrics can become a small pillar for those who do not want to sing the song but are forced to sing it" at school ceremonies, the Web site says.
On Monday, the conservative daily Sankei Shimbun slammed the renditions as an attempt to subvert the national anthem.
The government officially adopted "Kimigayo" and the rising sun flag in 1999, despite widespread concern it would rekindle feelings of militarism. The song, unofficially titled "His Majesty's Reign," is based on an ancient poem that wishes long life for the Emperor.
Although the rhymes in the alternatives resemble the Japanese original, the content is completely different.
The English renditions are titled "Kiss Me" and "Kiss Me Girl" and urge people to remember Japan's wartime aggression, including the Nanjing Massacre and the "comfort women" -- those forced into sexual slavery for the Imperial Japanese Army.
The lyrics to one of the alternatives go:
Kiss me, girl, your old one.
Till you're near, it is years till you're near.
Sounds of the dead will she know?
She wants all told, now retained,
For cold caves know the moon's seeing the mad and dead.
No author was identified.
The Tokyo metropolitan board of education ordered public teachers and their students to sing "Kimigayo" at graduation and entrance ceremonies starting in October 2003 and punished more than 300 teachers who refused.
According to education ministry guidelines, schools must display the Hinomaru and have teachers and students sing the national anthem.
Government officials said they are unsure whether the sarcastic spinoffs are growing in popularity and urged people to stick to the original.
"(People) should sing the words to 'Kimigayo' that are approved by law," one ministry official said.
Despite the lyrics, Toru Kondo, a teacher of English at Kasai Minami High School in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo, who refuses to sing "Kimigayo," said he will shun the alternatives because the melody is the same as the original.
"I don't like the song ("Kimigayo") in its entirety -- both lyrics and melody, considering its link to Japan's wartime militarism, as well as the board of education's use of coercion to make teachers and students sing it at school ceremonies," he said.
Takashi Narushima, an education law professor at Niigata University, said it is only natural to parody "Kimigayo" when authorities are cramming it down the throats of teachers and students.
"It's passive resistance," he said. "People can decide to sing 'Kimigayo' or a parody or refuse to sing it."
Seishiro Sugihara, an education professor at Musashino University in Tokyo, meanwhile said the national anthem should be respected.
Japan: Parody of anthem heats up nationalist debate - Financial Times