The singing voice for peace which lives forever and ever


 

   As the new year of 2021 came for a few days, the War Remnants Museum learned very sad news: one of our peace-loving friends reportedly died due to a fatal illness. She was Yokoi Kumiko, a Japanese singer who raised her singing voice for peace in the midst of bomb attacks to support the Vietnamese people in their struggle against the foreign aggression.

 

   The Mainichi Shimbun, a major Japanese newspaper, reported that Yokoi Kumiko, who real name was Tomoyori Kumiko, died in Tokyo due to a fatal illness. She has been known for a variety of charity work, including concerts in Japan and Viet Nam to raise funds for children of Agent Orange in Viet Nam and recently earthquake victims in Japan. The peace-loving singer died on January 14, 2021 and her family arranged a simple funeral on January 20, 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

   Kumiko died at 76, but she is forever 29 on the mind of peace lovers in the world as they recalled her strumming her guitar and singing on the Vietnamese battlefield. At that time, she got married and had a 2-year-old son. But when she decided to come to Viet Nam to express her opposition to the unjust war waged by the U.S. military here, she got the support from her husband Tomoyori Hidetaka. Between late November to early December 1973, she travelled thousands of kilometers from Japan to Hà Nội and Quảng Bình where she performed lots of antiwar songs, including “Sensha wa ugokenai” (Stop the tanks). Her singing partly strengthened the Vietnamese people who were fighting for national independence and freedom. Her song, i.e. “Sensha wa ugokenai”, was recorded and played back several times by the Voice of Viet Nam and Hà Nội Radio. Though she came to Viet Nam alone, but the song conveyed the love for peace of her entire nation.

 

   In 1972, many citizens in Sagamihara city (Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan) took to the streets in an effort to stop the U.S. military from bringing M48 battle tanks and other military equipment from its military bases in Japan to Viet Nam. Together they sang the song “Sensha wa ugokenai” to oppose the Viet Nam War. Kumiko also joined such antiwar activities, and after returning from Viet Nam, she continued to perform this song in several localities in Japan and some other countries.

 

 

   In 1994, Kumiko returned to Viet Nam and performed in Hà Nội. Years later, she continued to come back to Viet Nam for charity work, calling for donations to assist Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange, especially the children in Hà Nội, Thừa Thiên - Huế and so on. In 2005, she was awarded a Friendship Medal of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam by the Vietnamese President.

 

   Among a number of occasions when she came to Viet Nam, Kumiko visited the War Remnants Museum twice on March 22, 2017 and March 16, 2018. On these occasions, she gave our museum about 20 photographs, documents and one artifact, i.e. an album on vinyl which comprises the song “Sensha wa ugokenai”. The photograph capturing the moment when she was singing this song on the Bình Trị Thiên battlefield was also given to us in the hope to spread her love for peace to our visitors.

 

   In 2017, our museum and the executive board of the 10/8 Yamazaki Hiroaki Project (Japan) held a joint exhibit entitled “The Peace Movement in Japan Supporting Viet Nam During Wartime (1954 - 1975) and the Friendship Between Viet Nam and Japan.” In addition to the photographs and documents provided by the above-mentioned Japanese partner, we also displayed exhibits donated by other peace-loving groups and individuals over the years, including the photograph of Kumiko. In late 2018, one of our permanent exhibits entitled “The World Support Viet Nam in Its Resistance to U.s Aggression (1954 - 1975)” was upgraded and her photograph was added because we believe that it is a meaningful photograph which depicts a special form of antiwar movement, compared to the other movements against the U.S. aggression against Viet Nam.

 

   Now, even though she is dead and gone, the War Remnants Museum will continue her endeavor to spread the love for peace. We always remember Yokoi Kumiko - a Japanese singer who loved peace and our home country Viet Nam!

 

 
   
  Date 27/01/2021  

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