Will Live 8 Japan Make An Impression?

In mid-June, Good Charlotte dropped a scheduled concert in Jakarta from its Asia tour due to warnings from the U.S. and other countries that terrorists were ready to strike Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation in the world.

Militant groups linked to Al Qaeda have bombed Western-related targets in Indonesia three times in the last three years, including the October 12, 2002, bombing on the resort island of Bali that killed 202 people.

However, the American punk group also added a concert while it was in Asia – the Tokyo edition of the Live 8 concerts organized by Bob Geldof to bring attention to extreme poverty in Africa. Good Charlotte is scheduled play seven concerts in five Japanese cities starting June 29th. The band had July 2nd, the date when all the Live 8 concerts will be carried out in major cities throughout the world, open.

The headliner for the Tokyo concert, to be held at the Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba, east of Tokyo, is Bjork. Also set to appear is the English rock band McFly. The Japanese acts on the bill include soft pop duo Dreams Come True, hard rockers Rize, and Def Tech.

Tokyo was not among the five cities slated to host Live 8 concerts when Geldof announced them last spring, though he did say he hoped Japan, as a member of the G8 nations that would be coming to Scotland for the economic summit July 6th, would host a concert as well.

Then, on June 16th, Geldof announced that Tokyo would take part. However, at the time, it was the only indication that such a concert would take place. The Tokyo show was not officially announced in Japan until June 25th, only one week before the concert. Ten thousand tickets were made available for the concert and were distributed exclusively through the Web portal Excite Japan, which only recently launched a ticketing service.

Because of the extremely short lead time and lack of general media interest in the concerts, some people believe the Tokyo event will not make the intended impression. The worldwide concerts are to be broadcast live on Fuji TV’s satellite channel, which is only available to subscribers.

A music journalist told the Japan Times on June 25th that Japanese people don’t pay much attention to Africa.

“Asian problems are more important at the moment,” he said.

The Japanese government was reportedly hesitant about forgiving the debts of extremely poor countries but gave in when the other G8 countries agreed to do so at the pre-summit meeting of finance ministers.

And while the Live 8 concerts are meant to be awareness-raising events rather than money-raising events, they are being publicized in Japan as “charity concerts.” Japanese people’s donations to charities are, per capita, about one-tenth what they are in the United States.

— Phil Brasor