YOKOHAMA — A Yokohama-based trio of Japanese singers are racking up YouTube views and heartfelt thanks from Ukrainians after posting a video of their performance of Ukraine’s national anthem.
Speaking about the Russian invasion of Ukraine launched on February 24, Maho, the lead singer of Yokohama Sisters, told Mainichi Shimbun, “It’s very sad and I cried. By releasing the video, I want to support the peace.”
The all-female trio aims to support world peace by singing national anthems from around the world. They have previously released videos of the national anthems of countries where Yokohama has sister cities, including Manila in the Philippines, Mumbai in India and Vancouver in Canada. Odessa, a Ukrainian port city, is one of these sister cities.
Yokohama and Odessa became sister cities in 1965. As 2020 marked the 55th anniversary of the relationship, the Yokohama sisters began practicing to sing Ukraine’s national anthem. The trio had been hesitant to post the video until now because they couldn’t find anyone to check their pronunciation, but uploaded it to YouTube on February 15 in response to the growing crisis in Ukraine.
The one-minute, 14-second video features members Maho, Miwa and Ai – the latter holding a Ukrainian flag – singing in clear, beautiful voices. Ukrainian media, the Japanese Embassy in Kyiv and others posted the video on their official social media accounts and elsewhere, and it had just over 80,000 views as of February 25.
The video contains around 1,000 comments thanking the Yokohama sisters, mostly posted from Ukraine. One said, “Thank you, Japanese people. You are a true friend of Ukraine.” The city of Odessa featured the video on its official website with the following comment: “The Odessa City Council and Odesans express their gratitude to the artists and the municipality of the sister city of Yokohama for their support.”
Maho explained, “We just wanted to express our support for our partner city, and our goal was not to send a political message. But as a result, it (the video) directly reached the hearts of Ukrainians facing difficult times. I realize once again that singing a national anthem is a way of respecting this country.”
Of the February 24 invasion by the Russian army, Maho said, “I am heartbroken when I think of how the people of Odessa feel. Maybe we could go in the right direction if we work together, so we want to support peace.”
The Yokohama sisters say they plan to sing Ukrainian folk songs on a YouTube live stream on March 6.
(Japanese original by Satoru Suzuki, Yokohama Office)
YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJFU-soDQGA&t=4s