Shinzo Abe joins ‘Dancing on the Inside’ bandwagon

“We’ll cross paths in our own spaces…. Let’s link hands through all the songs we sing. Let’s live and see each other again.”

This is how a few lines from the latest hit song in Japan roughly translates. And you can guess it’s about staying connected in spirit while the country – as in many parts of the world – is strongly urging residents to stay indoors to arrest the spread of the novel coronavirus.  

Musician and actor Gen Hoshino (originally of the Sakerock fame) wrote the song “Uchide Odorou (Dancing on the Inside)” and debuted it on Instagram and YouTube on April 5.  

It was the day before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced he would soon declare a state of emergency in the metro areas of Tokyo and Osaka and 5 prefectures as cases of COVID-19 infection rose. 

A week before that, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike had asked her constituents to avoid restaurants, bars, and karaoke as the number of cases rose. On April 6, she told them to strictly stay home and keep a two-meter distance from other people.  

Many observers were worried, though, that since Japan’s state of emergency declaration doesn’t provide for punishment, people might just choose to ignore the call to stay home. 

And so the 56-second “Uchide Odorou” was born, with a “challenge” for celebrities to jam with him remotely or upload their own videos using the song. It has gained 2.14 million views on YouTube as of writing.  

“When I stayed home, I came up with this song,” he said in Japanese. “If you don’t play any instruments, you can sing or dance to this video.” 

To me, the phrase in English, dancing on the inside, is rich in meaning – having fun even without going out, not losing your joy and optimism even when alone. If we get through this, the song says, then we’ll truly get together again. 

I first came across the chain of collaboration through Naomi Watanabe’s Instagram post a day after Hoshino-san introduced the rhythmic number. The comedienne was airing her live series on YouTube where she would invite people to virtually join her for dinner.  

“For those of you who have been staying at home, you may be nervous, lonely, and having a tough time. I live alone too and am extremely lonely,” she said in Japanese. She couldn’t sing, she admitted, so she tried dancing to the song, hoping this would cheer up her fans. 

It turned out the likes of drummer Daniel Baeder and electone player Yuki Ishizawa had also lent their unique touch to “Uchide Odorou.”  

Daichi Miura, Mitsuki Takahata, Yuriko Ishida, Taiiku Okazaki, Yo Oizumi, among many others, have also joined the campaign, according to Billboard Japan, which also reported on April 8 that “Hoshino’s ‘Dancing on the Inside’ project…shot to No. 2 on Twitter this week and [debuted] at No. 21 on the Japan Hot 100.”  

On Sunday morning, April 12, the latest to join the campaign was Abe-san himself. The Office of the Prime Minister uploaded his collaboration video with Hoshino on its Instagram account, which was reposted by Abe’s own account.  

He doesn’t do any singing or dancing, though. The Primer Minister is shown doing routine activities at home (he’s wearing slippers!) – basically, being relaxed and comfortable staying home, as he has been urging the Japanese people.  

The left half of the screen shows Hoshino’s original video, while the right half captures Abe cuddling his dog, sipping tea, reading a book, and flipping channels with the remote.  

The state of emergency in Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa, Osaka, Hyogo, and Fukuoka is expected to last for a month. Abe has said that should the number of cases continue to rise, the state of emergency might be expanded to cover other prefectures.  

“I can’t meet my friends. I can’t even have a drinking party. It’s just that a lot of lives are saved for sure by these actions…. Even though the former daily life is lost, we can feel the connection between people through social media and phone,” Prime Minister Abe said in his Instagram post.

“Someday again, it’s time for everyone to get together to smile. To create that tomorrow, stay at home today. Please help us with your cooperation,” he said. 

As of Sunday, Japan, with an estimated population of 126.48 million, has 6,005 coronavirus cases, 1,641 of which have tested positive and are awaiting further confirmation. It has a death rate of 1.5% and recovery rate of 12.7%. Three of every 10 cases are in the capital city of Tokyo. – Rappler.com

Miriam Grace A. Go

MIriam Grace A Go’s areas of interest are local governance, campaigns and elections, and anything Japanese.

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