Kazakh singer hopes music will help Japan antinuclear movement

A famous Kazakh singer hopes that the power of music will help anti-nuclear sentiment spread further across Japan, just as her signature song became the symbol of a movement that led to the shutdown of a former Soviet nuclear test site in the 1990s.

"Songs have the power to raise the spirits of people and unite them," Roza Rymbayeva said during a recent trip to Hiroshima ahead of the 67th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of the city

The 54-year-old's antinuclear "Zaman-ai" (Oh Such Times), a melancholy but powerful song, delivers a message about "protecting nature, children, our country and our future," said Rymbayeva, who has the title of national artist in Kazakhstan.

A part of the song describes the radioactive contamination in her homeland: "Devastating our forefathers' land Polluting this rich and teeming terrain. Must we

suffer forever for these crimes?"

During an interview with Kyodo News, Rymbayeva said she hopes to "share those messages with Japan as it has gone through similar pains," referring to various kinds of damage caused by the atomic-bomb attacks in 1945.

She also proposed Japan compose its own protest song based on the issues of radioactive contamination so as to serve as an antinuclear icon just like Zaman-ai.

Rymbayeva is a native of Semipalatinsk, now known as Semey, in northeastern Kazakhstan. The Soviet Union conducted nuclear tests more than 450 times over a period of about four decades from 1949 at the closed test site near Semey in the


Rymbayeva performed Zaman-ai in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in late July, as part of an event to commemorate the US atomic bombing of the city.

She says more than 1 million people as well as animals and plants in Kazakhstan have been afflicted with various illnesses and disorders said to have been caused by exposure to radiation, including many of her relatives who have suffered cancer among other health problems.

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