Let’s build the “International Red and White Song contest” into an international event!
The “Red and White Song contest” (Kōhaku Uta Gassen) is, of course, the national event held every New Year’s Eve on NHK. Japanese around the country share hit songs and golden oldies, as well as reflect on that year’s events. They also affirm their connection and solidarity with one another in preparation for the new year. The songs performed are also a reflection of the times.
While the “International Red and White Song Battle” is based on this event, its essence is slightly different. Rather than the “red and white” (denoting the colors of the teams that compete against one another), the focus is on the “international”. In this way, we can bring together those foreigners around us to create a “multicultural song battle”.
However, one cannot describe this song battle without mentioning the Great East Japan Earthquake. On March 3, Japan was hit by an unprecedented major earthquake and tsunami, followed by a nuclear accident. Relief teams came from around the world, along with donations and calls of “ganbare Nippon!” (“Don’t give up, Japan!). Foreigners living in Japan also rushed to volunteer in the affected areas. For these people, the disaster wasn’t someone else’s problem. “Giving hope to those in the disaster zone” – this was the theme of the International Red and White Song Battle right from the planning stages.
Having ethnic and multicultural media enter their names as group sponsors was also a bold approach. While they are vastly inferior to the mass media in terms of audience reach, we were able to transcend national borders through their use of technology to transmit information in their native languages. They thus demonstrated their power in a different dimension to the Japanese-language mass media. We also trialled a live broadcast through Ustream. It is through these approaches that the meaning of “international” in the “International Red and White Song Battle” is found.
However, even more worthy of note is the fact that foreigners of many nationalities as well as Japanese were able to come together through song. There are over two million foreigners living in Japan, but if their nationalities are different they don’t have many chances to interact with one another, and thus tend to mingle with people of their own nationality. This is only natural if they are unable to speak the same language.
If NHK’s Red and White Song Battle is a Japanese national event, then the International Red and White Song Battle can be said to be an event for a multicultural society. Actually, just confining it to a regional event is not enough – I want it to be turned into an international event that garners attention the world over.
(Author) Susumu Ishihara , editor-in-chief at the multicultural info magazine “Immigrants” (he contributed this article representative of the planning committee for the event).
グローバルコミュニティーでは、今回、多文化共生に詳しい元毎日新聞論説副委員長の石原進氏に国際紅白歌合戦の総括の記事を書いていただきました。石原氏は、記者当時から日本における外国人問題に深い関心をもち、「多文化共生社会・日本」 の実現をはかるべく多文化情報誌『イミグランツ』を創刊されています。第一線のジャーナリストとして活躍された深い見識と、毎日新聞政治部副部長時代に培った豊富な人脈を活用し、海外有識者ネットワーク[*1] 日本事務局長を努めながら、『日本社会の内なる国際化』の啓蒙活動を『イミグランツ』を通して地道に続けておられます。