SASEBO, Nagasaki – On March 24 marking one month since Russia invaded Ukraine, a Ukrainian vocal duo performs daily at the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in this southwestern Japanese city with thoughts of the family members back home and prayers for peace.
Vadym Bezvuliak, 34, and Oleg Pashkowski, 35, members of the group Maximum, are from Vinnytsia, an oblast located about 200 kilometers southwest of the Ukrainian capital kyiv. They met in college when they were 18 and embarked on a professional career in music. Their band gained popularity after appearing on a TV audition show.
When the situation in their country became unstable in 2014 due to the unilateral annexation of Crimea by Russia, the two were invited by Huis Ten Bosch, who had noticed their talent, and they came to Japan to perform on the scene.
In early March, the two could be seen at the theme park, singing The Beatles’ “Let It Be”, Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and other songs with great emotion. Two days before their performance, Russia had bombed their hometown for the first time.
Bezvuliak, who has a son in Ukraine, expressed his anger at what he called the scandalous situation in which innocent people living in peace are being killed, and expressed his helplessness at not being able to do anything for his family. .
Pashkowski, who left his parents in Ukraine to come to Japan, told Mainichi Shimbun that it has become his routine to ask his family if they are still alive every morning and evening via social media and to other means. He says he wants to cry out for forgiveness for living in a peaceful country when everyone in Ukraine is living under enormous pressure.
Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to threaten Ukraine and the West, even suggesting the use of nuclear weapons. Pashkowski, who has repeatedly visited the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum in the southwestern Japanese city of Nagasaki, described Putin’s behavior as insane and fumed that Putin should be brought to the nuclear bomb museum. atomic bomb and be shown the price mankind has paid for the big mistake of using such weapons
As the Russian military invasion continues, the circle of support for Ukraine is widening in Japan. Both men say they received letters of support and folded paper cranes expressing wishes for peace in Ukraine from fans. Bezvuliak says he wants to thank the fans and emphasized that they will never forget the kindness they received.
John Lennon’s “Imagine,” which asks listeners to imagine a peaceful world where there is “nothing to kill or die for,” is now being sung around the world, with hopes for peace in Ukraine. Pashkowski says it’s the perfect time to sing the song and he’ll repeat it. Believing that music can be a tool for peace, the two will continue to sing on stage.
(Japanese original by Atsuki Nakayama, Nagasaki Office)