Symphony conductor Seiji Ozawa was interviewed in Switzerland recently, and, while he is not really someone who comments on political issues, the almost-80-year-old former Boston Symphony music director expressed a hope that the people of Japan will avoid any new wars.
Ozawa was referring to the ongoing conflict between Japan and China. The two countries have been engaged in testy disputes over supposedly uninhabited islands located in the East China Sea, probably because of apparent untapped oil reserves beneath those areas, a dispute which has now taken to the Internet. Japan seems to be more and more militarized against the Japanese people’s wishes. However, the real resolution to these disputes involves nothing for these governments, but involves the homestead principle, as Murray Rothbard discussed in his article, Confiscation and the Homestead Principle.
Ozawa, born in Manchukuo (also known as Manchuria and now part of China) to Japanese parents, said in the interview that Japan should set an example as a “country that does not wage war,” and that the older Japanese people need to educate the younger ones on the history of World War II. He also stated that not only the younger generation but politicians are ignorant about these past wars.
It’s the same here in America, only worse. America’s politicians start wars of aggression at the drop of a hat. Or they commit false flags or otherwise lie as an excuse to take the U.S. into other countries’ wars, such as Lyndon Johnson’s Gulf of Tonkin false flag to go to war in Vietnam. Most of the younger Americans don’t know about that, or about George H.W. Bush’s war of aggression on Iraq in 1991, for that matter.
Anyway, Seiji Ozawa rarely comments on political matters. In the 1980s actress Vanessa Redgrave sued the Boston Symphony Orchestra for breach of contract and for violation of her civil rights. When Ozawa was on the stand, he had to embarrassingly admit that he wasn’t aware of Redgrave’s political activism for the PLO (nor did he know who she was, for that matter). And he had also stated that music and politics shouldn’t mix, even though he had conducted a symphony concert on behalf of Musicians Against Nuclear Arms to support a congressional nuclear freeze amendment. (It didn’t pass.) And more recently in 2010 he wrote in program notes, “I personally do not care for political pieces,” which is why for those concerts he had selected Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. (Not too political, eh Seiji?)
During his time with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Ozawa several times had to take lengthy absences because of exhaustion, tendinitis, and back troubles. In more recent years he has had to fight esophageal cancer, shingles, pneumonia, and more back trouble. He sure has taken a lickin’ but keeps on tickin’ (as John Cameron Swayze might say).
When I saw this video of Ozawa conducting Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 with the NHK Symphony Orchestra, apparently from last Fall, I couldn’t believe how lively and energetic his conducting is now, given his age and his recent medical history. In fact, he conducts with much more physical activity and acrobatics then I ever saw him do during the millions of Boston Symphony concerts I attended from the mid-1970s through the mid-1990s. It’s as though he has all the youth and vitality that he had when he was in his 20s (like when he appeared on What’s My Line, for instance). I’m verklempt.
UPDATE: Here is a very nice article from the Japan Times from December 2, 2017 about Seiji Ozawa teaching master classes in Japan. It also includes a picture of him at a 70-year-old piano that his father gave him.