The MJC Ensemble, a group of local middle and high school girls, will sing the "Kimigayo" national anthem at the opening ceremony of the Japan Grand Prix F-1 final. The 17-member group hopes its singing will show people around the world that Fukushima will remain strong.
The Japan GP has been broadcast to 160 nations worldwide over the years and the race in Suzuka typically draws about 100,000 spectators. The national anthem has been sung at previous Japan GP finals by such celebrities as tenor Masafumi Akikawa and popular vocal and dance group Exile.
The MJC Ensemble's planned performance has been made possible thanks to an invitation from F-1 driver Kamui Kobayashi.
The MJC Ensemble came to Kobayashi's attention when they sang at events and music festivals held in various locations nationwide to call for national unity in disaster recovery efforts. Inspired by the group's singing, Kobayashi sent them a video message saying: "I have watched you give everything you have [to encourage disaster victims]. I look forward to listening to your choir in Suzuka."
The crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has forced members of the group to evacuate from their homes. Even more than six months after the outbreak of the disaster, some are still living in temporary locations. Naturally, the choir has not had many opportunities to practice with all members.
Yoichi Kaneko, 57, who heads the group, was initially hesitant to respond to Kobayashi's invitation. However, members of the group showed strong interest in conveying their message--through their singing--that "Fukushima will never be defeated."
On Saturday, all members of the group practiced in Minami-Soma for just the second time since the nuclear crisis began. At first, they were unable to sing well together. However, they have been able to gradually regain their voices, thanks in part, to their solo practice.
By associating their hometown and things important to them with "Kimigayo," the MJC Ensemble hopes to pray for disaster-stricken areas' early recovery.
I'm sure the teenage choir will give their best. Ganbare! :)