Jacksons, Yoko Visit Japan

Ahead of their charity concerts in Tokyo to raise money for the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the Jacksons visited an orphanage in the capital where many residents lost parents to the disaster.

Jackie Jackson reported on his Twitter account that he and his brothers Tito and Marlon made rice cakes with the children, an end-of-year tradition in Japan. The concert, which celebrated the music of their brother Michael, also featured Macy Gray, Japanese R&B stars AI and Toshinobu Kubota, and Tortoise Matsumoto of the rock band Ulfuls.

At a related press conference, the siblings’ mother, Katherine, announced the establishment of a foundation in Michael’s name that will initially aid children from the disaster area and eventually benefit disadvantaged children all over the world.

As a first step, the foundation will help fund the building of a temporary children’s theatre in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture. It will also distribute 200 movie projectors to community centers in the hardest-hit towns and cities. Money will come from fund-raising activities related to sales of Jackson-related memorabilia.

Yoko Ono paid her first-ever visit to the disaster area in northern Japan since the earthquake occurred. She also met with children ahead of her own charity show, the annual Dream Power concert, in which Japanese artists like Tamio Okuda, Keisuke Kuwata and Bonnie Pink played John Lennon songs to raise money for a worldwide educational fund started by Ono.

This year marked the 10th anniversary of the concert series, which featured a “virtual” John Lennon performing on stage with the guests. Ono visited an elementary school in the city of Fukushima where 30 students from the devastated coastal town of Minami Soma have evacuated. Minami Soma is near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Will.i.am also made an “emergency visit” to Sendai, which was affected by the quake/tsunami, to meet local young people in the area as part of volunteer activities related to reconstruction. The Black Eyed Peas leader, who made a video with his group in Japan the same week of the disaster, performed at an auditorium in the city.

Also on stage was Blaise of the Canadian-Japanese pop band Monkey Majik, whose home base is Sendai.