In the middle of August, Polydor Records announced it would not release a recently finished album by veteran rock singer Kiyoshiro Imawano because it contained a punk version of “Kimigayo,” Japan’s newly certified national anthem. Imawano called the decision “silly,” an opinion that took on extra layers of meaning last week when TV Asahi’s “News Station” invited him on the show to sing the song.

Following the live performance a tape was run of various persons giving their own opinions of Imawano’s version. The new leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, Yukio Hatoyama, was shown listening to the song on headphones. As the song started with a burst of chords a surprised boyish grin broke out on his face. He gave it a thumbs up for what he said was its patriotic zeal, though it looked to me as if his appreciation was a bit less calculated.

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