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ot'time. In

Masao OHKI (1901-1971)

efTects extend over a long period

Japanese Rhapsody (1938) Symphony No.S "HIROSHIMA" (1953)

doubled as time went by.) Japanese politicians and military people thought that the US Air Force were able to annihilate Japan by dropping the new bombs in many places, without landing Japan by sea. On the l4th August, Japan manifested the will of surrender to the Allied Forces. Thus World War II was

In August 1945, the US Air Force dropped newly developed atomic bombs to two big cities of Japan. It marked the first instance in history in which nuclear weapons were used in war. Japan had been at war with the United States, Britain and other nations since December 1941, aiming at establishing a Japan-centred military and economic bloc in Asia. In 1945 the war was in the last phase

and the conditions were extremelY unfavourable to Japan. The Japanese

Government was attempting to end the war through the intercession of the Soviet Union which had been standing neutral, but on the 8th August it finally entered the war against Japan. The Japanese Army was still dreaming ofchanging the situation to advantage by meeting the US Army in the mainland of Japan, when the calamity in Hiroshima on the 6th August and in Nagasaki on the 9th of the same month crushed the dream. Each big city was devastated in a moment by a single bomb' According to the research just after the bombing, some eighty thousand lives were lost in Hiroshima and some twenty-five thousand lives were lost in Nagasaki. (A peculiarity of calamity by nuclear weapons is that radiation 13

fact the deaths in Hiroshima and Nagasaki


During wartime, J aPan advocated

totalitarianism, militarism and the spirit of glorifying war, as symbolised by the national slogan "All Nation Fall in Battle" or "kamikaze attacks." The sense of value after the war, which was to become the basis of Japan afterwards, was built up as a reactlon to such mentality. The newly established Constitution of Japan extolled the renunciation of war. Democracy and pacifism became the nation's absolute creed and "Never repeat the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki" was the motto of the nation, although its context was complex, as it involved mixed sentiments in many cases, such as a simple antiwar sense, reflettion and regret of militarism, distrust of scientific civilisation which produced nuclear weapons. or ambivalent feelings to the United States which significantly contributed to democratisation of postwar Japan, after having

committed atrocities of dropping atomlc



and The Japanese postwar culture cannot be Toshio Hosok awa's Hiroshirna Requiem opera Jwrior Butterfly,to separated from such complex feelings to the Shigeaki Saegusa's small songs like Bells in r..o.y of the tragedy of Hiroshima and antiwar/antinuclear Shall Not Forgive the Atomic Nagasaki. A typical example is the so-called Nagasaki andWe of music on the atomlc "Liierature of the Atomic Bomb" represented Bomb.ln the history

important composer' in by works like Tamiki Hara's poem Genbaku bomb, a particularly sense, is Masao Ohki, as his Shokei ("A Small Landscape after the Atomic- its historical "Hiroshina" (1953) in the Bombing") (Hara was a survivor of the S),mphort), No. 5 can be considered to be the first bombing in Hiroshima.), Kenzaburo Ohe's oi"..nt CD of this kind. documentary Hiroshima Notes and Masuji tig-scale work Ibuse's novel Black Rain. Many films on the was bom on the 3rd October l90l atomic bomb were also produced, such as Masao Ohki a small provincial city on the Pacific Kaneto Shindo's Children of the Atomic Bomb in Iwata, and grew up in a more (music by Akira Ifukube)' Tomotaka (aka coast in central Japan, nearby city Shizuoka' His father duryu) Tasaka's We Shall Never Forget the important girls' high school' He spent Soig of Nagasaki (music bY Humiwo wai a teacher at childhood in ihe period when nearly half Hav"asala), Shohei Imamura's Black Rain his title a century had already passed since Japan had aOapteO from lbuse's novel of the same and had started to aim at (music by Toru Takemitsu) and Akira ceased isolationism westernisation. Japan was eager to accept Kurosawa's Rft apsody of Augttst' The monster western music, and operas and orchestral film Godzilla can also be considered to belong concerts were beginning to be held to the genre in that its main character ts a occasionally in big cities like Tokyo' But the mutant-dinosaur exposed to radiation from an circumstances in provincial cities were experiment of a hydrogen bomb' Arts' plays pianos in the different.There were only a few und d.utut for TV and radio also took up Shizuoka and even a small orchestra was not atomic bomb. The music scene has seen so be found there. People's interest in mustc many works on the atomic bomb, rangtng to mainly of Japanese traditional works from Uig works like Yasushi Akutagawa's consisted was hardly by Ohe)' and influence of western music ooera Olpheus in Hiloshima t libretto felt. Fiikuru i{ayashi's Genbaku Shokei (choral work on Haia's poem of the same title)' Ikuma Ohki's father liked to play the shakuhachi and Nobuo "Hiroslzinra"' No.6 Dan's Symphony himself played it from his childhood' Terahaia'i monologue opera H iroshima' Ohki



The shakuhachi is a kind of bamboo tlute After completing the junior high school course l9 l0s, Ohki went on Jaoanese have loved from the medieval time. in the latter half of the school in Osaka and Possessing unstable pitch and mysteriously to technical senior high cloudy, somewhat huskY timbre, the majored in chemistry. His musical life became in this core city of instrument has especially been associated with drimatically abundant the asceticism and meditation of Zen. The western Japan. In addition to studying master players, he formed a experience of shakuhachi music was to exert shakuhachi with group with his classmates a significant influence on Ohki's creatlon; to male chorus who was good put it more concretely, he showed a keen including a son of a clergyman, of arrangements interest in sounding the orchestra in at hymns, and gave concerts In the process Ohki had a mysterious and cloudy ways from his early of popular classics. experience. Listening to more SP career as a composer, and this inclination was deiislve he had an opportunity of to bear fruit especially in his music on the records in Osaka, hearing Beethoven's Syntphony No'5 and atomic bomb. Tchaikovsky's " 1812" Overture' It was his with full-scale orchestral Ohki, however, did not only played the first encounter Deeply impressed by these works, he shakuhachi in his childhood. lt is true that the music. wished vaguely to write orchestral music' But orchestra and the piano were not familiar to only a few composers provincial people. but the violin and the in those days, there were to write such music (for mandolin were being played in homes' who could manage example K6gsakYamada). First of all, the Fascinated by music by way of shakuhachi' itseif was no less unusual' His dream Ohki also played such western lnstrumenls' orcheitra quixotic and he even did not know In addition tothat, by means of SP records' seemed to st;dy orchestral writings' So he started which were becoming popular in Japanese how his efforts first by studying vocai music more daily life. Ohki got to know classical Chinese well minutely and by writing nursery songs' opeias and arias from Bizel's Carmen' as ai a diversity of Japanese traditional mustc' Leaving technical senior high school in 192 I ' melodies Ohki's of base the up made What an englneer Ior a sense^ Ohki started to work as his and playing shakuhachi were lit'e for factory in Tokyo and continued his studiesof of tones nurtured by hearing SP records ot vocal music, but he soon came up to tne various kind of music' above all Japanese limitation of Japanese singers singing in traditional mustc. foreign languages whose pronunciation and 8.557839J 15

intonation were essentially different from those of the Japanese language. Quitting his job of engineer to reconsider how to live his life, he moved to Ueda, a small city in the mountainous area of central Japan, to be a teacher at girls'school. Then he came to a conclusion that his life should be a unique occasion to realise his dream, and he finally made up his mind to devote himself to studies of writing orchestral music.

But then what kind of orchestral music should he compose? Those who guided him were Beethoven and Tchaikovsky' who had led

Ohki to open his eyes to the charm of orchestral music. In Beethoven's music he found how to express power of overcoming contradictions to get to the ideal, and in Tchaikovsky's music how to combine traditional and popular sounds with orchestra' The Japanese society, by the way' was qurte democratic from the latter half of the 191 0s through the 1920s, when Ohki spent his adolescent years. Japan's wish in the latter

half of the l9th century was to attatn westernisation, to maintain its independence and to establish its position as a world power' The wish came true in 1905 by winning the Russo-Japanese War. When World War I was over, Japan became a permanent member of

the League of Nations. Japan's position

seemed to have become stable and nationalism


came out of fashion. Japan's concern during this period shifted to realisation of happiness of individuals. A big issue of the day was how urban labourers and rural peasants as well as the upper class could be happy both mentally and materially. It nourished various kinds of

social movements and Ohki was entirely subject to the spirit of the time. Ohki tried to overcome contradictions and to pursue his ideal, as Beethoven did. His ideal was happiness of the people at large' He believed that music should possess power to affect the society and that good music could contribute to the pursuit of happiness of the people, for which purpose music itself should be popularised. Then his model became Tchaikovsky. who wrote music on the basis of traditional and popular sounds of Russia. Ohki wished to make the most of Japanese traditional music represented by shakuhachi music, in the manner of Tchaikovsky. And to realise the image of the power of music being associated with that of the society, the orchestra, which is a collective ensemble, would be more appropriate than solos or chamber group:\. His attachment to the orchestra was enhanced by his concern with the society. To realise his dream, Ohki gave up his fixed job of the teacher at girls' school and returned io Tokyo. Working part-time to earn his keep 16

at the minimum, he allotted as much time as possible to the studies of composition. He

Hayasaka. The competition was held by the conductor Felix Weingartner, who came to

privately studied with Giichi Ishikawa, who Japan in 193'7 and conducted the New studied music in Califomia from I 906 to I 920. Symphony Orchestra (todaY's NHK In addition to writing many pieces for piano, Symphony Orchestra) in Tokyo. He was he introduced Leo Ornstein's music to Japan. surprised to find himself so enthusiastically Under his guidance, Ohki studied music received and in return for this welcome he theories from the beginning. In addition to organised a competition for Japanese Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, he was attracted composers with a view to introducing their to Mussorgsky's earthy melodies' precise orchestral works to Europe. He chose the orchestration of Rimsky-Korsakov and Ravel, winners himself in Switzerland. Ohki won Debussy's sensitivity and the fusion of the prize by his Five Fairy Tales ( 1934)' which unaffected folksiness and modern sonority was written by being stimulated bY Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, and found in Stravinsky's L'oiseau de Jeu.

Idea of The Night (193'7), in which

From around the 1930s Ohki started to

he attempted orchestration of shakuhachi music.

conduct his own orchestral works by giving concerts for himself. In those days several orchestras in Tokyo were actively premiering works on the life of Japanese people and

But the awarded works including other

exDenses of his concerts were covered by his

centred economic bloc in Asia, which gave rise to militarism and nationalism' Democracy and socialism on an international stance were gradually replaced by a new doctrine that eliminating political influences from Europe and the United States would bring happiness to the people in all Asian countries as well as in Japan. In the latter half of the 1930s Ohki 8.557839J

composers'were never to be performed in Europe, due to World War II.

work labourers one after another' Factorl' The 1930s, when Ohki started to rapid changes of Symphony, The Mining Gallery, Farmers vigorously, saw drastic and which Symphony and Sltinanoii ("The Way to political affairs. The Depression, Japan. Japan Shinano") were among them and many of started in 1929, soon affected crisis by forming a Japanthem accompanied chorus. It seems that the tried to get over the ruppott"tt, who sympathised with him' Ohki

gradually became known as a composer wno is deeply concerned with the society, and his name was established at last by winning the best prize at the Weingartner Competition in 1939. The co-winners included Shukichi

Mitsukuri, Hisatada Odaka and Humiwo 17

came to sympathise with this thought. His inclination to Japanese traditional and popular

music was, despite his attachment to

shakuhachi music, not so much to be linked with his concern about Japanese labourers and peasants who had been oppressed by the upper ilass us with his sympathy with Asian people who had been oppressed under colonialism by Europe and the United States. Japanese Rhapsody was composed at the request of NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai/Japan Broadcasting Corporation) and was premiered in a radio programme on the l8th May 1938

by the Japan Broadcasting Symphony

Orchestra (the same ensemble as the New Symphony Orchestra, later to become the NHK SymPhonY Orchestra) under the composer's own baton. The instrumentation is orihestra with double winds, plus celesta, piano and various percussion. In this work bttti tti"O to express cheerful, strong and constnrctive character of the Japanese people' who were going to spread their wings in Asia' It is a result of his self-criticism of his dark,

(E - F sharp - A - B - C sharp), which is one of Japanese traditional pentatonic scales. The other is quoted from Kisobushi, a folk tune in the mountainous district of central Japan. It is based on a Ryo scale (E - F sharp - G sharp B - C sharp), which is also one of Japanese

pentatonic scales. The work consists of three parts. The first part is Allegro, accompanied by slow introduction, in which materials from Kisobushi are used. In the following main part, the melody from the dance music of Iwakidaira forms up the first theme, which is suggested by the trumpet' and Kisobushl makes up the second theme, which is first suggested by the piano and then by the strings. This main part is repeated. In its return variants of Kisobushi are slowly suggested in D major and they are interwoven

music of Iwakidaira. Music becomes excited little by little and is

*ith dun""

concluded by interplay of percussionists' The third part is freestyle recapitulation of the first

Dart. Ohki wrote this work referring to Stravinsky's L'oiseau de feu and P'ltouchka'

introspective and mysterious work ldea of The Nig/rt, which was composed the previous year unl *ut to win the Weingartner ptize in 1939 '

During World War Il, Ohki wrote brave, brilliant and patriotic works, such as Svmrthonic Dance "Hagoromo" (1940) in of the 2600th imperial year of The two main themes are both made up of cele'bration Japan, Synphonit' Marclt "All Nation on the Japanese folk melodies. One is dance music (1942) and S1'mPhonic Poem foi a summer festival in Iwakidaira of the March" ( " Mongolia" 1944) for Manchuria' Tohoku district. It is based on a Ritsu scale



wars were caused by some imperialists in Japan and that the labouring class both in Japan and in Asia were equally the victims; the United States, the winner of the war and the main bearer of imperialism, was increasingly torturing the labouring class in the world. Ohki tried to lend his support, by means of music, to the labouring class in the world so that they might become aware of the evil of imperialism and might fight against it. In the process what he chose as a theme was the atomic bomb. It was the ultimate violence that massacred people indiscriminately in the last stage of the war. He regarded the atomic Ohki, however, was not satisfied with that, as bomb as a symbo! of modern imperialism, he was a composer who always wanted to link which had hindered realisation of happiness himself with the real world. Recollecting his of the labouring class. sympathy with labourers and peasants in his younger days, he approached socialism and The overwhelming power of the atomic bomb in communism to form his new basis on an idea was known to the world after the tragedy Hiroshima and Nagasaki, although the details of "the international class." of its destructive power and the influences of In his early career, Ohki wished to liberate the radiation had long been kept military of the the poor from the rich and aimed at creating secret. In Japan then under occupation popular symphonies originating from -his United States, information about the atomtc Documentary sympathy with the poor. Next his wish shifted bomb was strictly limited. Nagasaki to liberation of Asia from Europe and the photos and films of Hiroshima and for United States. It brought powerful and just after the bombing had to wait long 1952, when the nationalistic music. Then in the postwar days oublication. It was not until people Ohki advocated liberation of the labouring US occupation was over, that Japanese class from imperialism and tried to write got to know the real facts of the calamity. music to encourage that. Like many left-wing was people, Ohki came to think that a series of What brought a change to the situation 8.557839J

The defeat of Japan in the summer of 1945 gave a great shock to Ohki. Japanese life fell down to the bottom. The land was occupied by the US Army, which broke up Ohki's belief that war and victory would bring happiness to the people and that Asia would be liberated. Criticising himself severely in anguish, he tried to seek salvation in antique statues of Buddha and in 1948 he wrote a big orchestral work Sir Prcludes and Postlude to Classical Statues, in which profound introspection is expressed in an Oriental way, as in ldea of The Night.


Tlrc Hiroshinn kntels by a couple of painters, Iri Maruki ( 1 901 -95) and Toshi Maruki ( l 9 1 22000). Iri, the husband, was a Japanese-style

painter. Influenced by communism and surrealism in the prewar days, he was good at fantastic expression by means of shading and blurring techniques of Indian ink. Toshi, the wife, was a Western-style painter, who had an experience of living in the Soviet Union and Micronesia in the prewar days. Deeply influenced by van Gogh and Gauguin, she was good at portraits and nudes. The couple stayed in Hiroshima just after the bombing and witnessed the scene. With the help of the

memories and referring

to some of

documentary photos, which were prohibited from publishing in those days, they started to present The Hiroshima Panels in 1951. Each panel is gigantic (2 metres high and 7 metres wide) and basically depicts robust and beautiful bodies in nudity (painted in the


of Gauguin) transfigured

surrealistically by the violence of the atomic bomb. Through collaboration their strong points are enhanced. Ohki did not have any immediate information about Hiroshima and Nagasaki just after the bombing, but he had good knowledge of the atomic bomb, as he had written music for a documentary film of the atomic bomb, which was prohibited from running by the US Army. The Hiroshima Panels were very good models


tbr Ohki, as he wished to musically express the atomic bomb which darkly blocked the way to human freedom, to the future of mankind and to the realisation of the dream of liberating the labouring class. The paintings rich in subtle shadings corresponded to Ohki's inclination to cloudy sonority. He took up all the six paintings that had been published by 1953 (The Panels later added the number up to fifteen), and adding Prelude and Elegy to the six movements based on the six paintings, he completed an eight-movement symphonic fantasy Io The Hintsltima Panels in 1953. The work, which was later renamed Symphotty No.5 " Hiroshima", was premiered by

Masashi Ueda conducting the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra on the I st November of the same year. The instrumentation consists of orchestra with modified triple winds, plus celesta and diverse percussion. Ohki's style in this work is quite dift'erent fiom that of optimistic Japanese Rhapsody. Tlls music is characterised by chromatic melodies moving about in narrow ranges, dissonant harmonies like the seconds and the sevenths, tone-cluster-like sounds generated by accumulation of semi tones and special effects by strings and winds. Ohki found out such effective expressions along the lines of music

for shakuhachi, No, or Shinto, in which dissonant harmonies and microtones are used. As a result, this work assumes both impact 20


like that of Schoenberg's A Surviver Jt'ont Warsaw and meditation and agony found in Shostakovich's serious music.

where harmonics of the violin and the celesta generate chilly sounds, and the timpani and the lower strings exchange motifs in a wholetone scale.

Prelude'. Stolid Lapse of Time - The Voice of Human Conscience - Chaos - Stillness. Many Ghosts is the music of the procession of the of the principal materials that are to form up casualties, some of whom look alive and the whole work are found here. In the others dead. The strings play a motif slowly opening, pizzicatos by the double bass form descending in the range of the minor third. It Stolid Inpse of Time, which is soon joined by is as if ghosts were walking step by step. The the cello. It is like the ticks of the second hand trumpet persistently repeats the same note, in of the clock in the countdown for dropping the manner of "This was destiny knocking at an atomic bomb. Over the pizzicatos, the the door." The trumpet here appears to imply violin moves about lifelessly and vacantly in "the inevitable fate of Hiroshima," rather than the upper range, the clarinet and the flute The Voice of Hunnn Consciettce. suggest a No-like melodies and the trumpet gives a warning. They are all characterised by Flre depicts the fires just atter the bombing, chromatic movements in narrow ranges of the in its direct meaning, and in its symbolical seconds or the thirds. Here Ohki effectively meaning the terror that befalls the people at an incredible speed. They are expressed by makes use of the atmosphere of No, a Japanese ancient play often associated with the notion rapid chromatic runs and various kinds of ofdeath. Stolid Lapse ofTime expresses the trills, tremolos and glissandos interspersed anxiety of death, with which the atomic bomb through the whole orchestra. confronts the people. The Voice of Huntan Conscience is sung by viola, cello and double Water depicts casualties wandering about for bass. It evokes music of Beethoven, above all water, by a motif that moves about gloomily the opening of Symphony No.5, which invited in an narrow range of the minor third. But they Ohki to the career of composer. It is the voice cannot find water easily. Violently ascending of the proletariat, who try to overcome the movements of the winds and dissonant anxiety of the atomic bomb and contradictions harmonies of the brass torture the casualties. of imperialism . Chaos expresses the explosion of the atomic bomb in full orchestra. Stillness After hard rain of strong radioactivity is refers to the world of death after the bombing, depicted in the manner of Fire, Rainbow 21


It imparts eerie colours to the world of death. The clarinet and the solo violin appears.

mysteriously playing tremolos in harmonics once again suggest the No-style motif of death, which appeared in Snlid Inpse of Time of PreLude.

Boys and Glrls continues to deal with the motif of death from Rainbow. The motif is played by the solo flute and is then developed by the orchestra. It amounts to a polyphonic requiem for children killed by the atomic bomb. Desert after the Atomic Bomblrg is in the style of Stillness of Prelude and GftosLr. The piccolo assumes the idea of death, imitating a No instrument Nokan, which takes charge of the upper register. The song of birds in the other world is added by the woodwinds. The special effects generated by descending movements of the strings in persistent harmonics seem,

requiem-like music of Boys and Girl.r, both of which are on the justice side. The other is phrases from the preceding movements expressing destruction and terror caused by the atomic bomb. These elements stand face to face and come into collison with each other, although justice, joy and the will of human beings are never to gain a victory, unlike Beethoven's Symphonies Nos.5 and 9. Unable to dispel the terror of the atomic bomb as yet, music comes to and end. It means that whether the terror is broken down or not depends on subsequent human conscience.

Ohki's Hiroslrima Symphony gave a striking impact on Japanese audience. In postwar Japan Ohki found his place as a left-wing composer fighting against imperialism. He also made a big success in his anti-atomic-

in themselves, to predict Penderecki's

bomb cantata Get Humans Back (1961-1963\. The work consists of two parts. The first part is tragic and the second part optimistically depicts the march of the proletariat who try to

Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima.

defy the terror of the atomic bomb. Ohki

The longest movement Elegy is written in a

visited the Soviet Union and North Vietnam as a leading composer representing the

Hiroshima Symphony as music that comes to a big dram in the end, preceded by tone pictures based on the Panels. That big drama is Elegy. Two elements are contrasted in this movement. One is The Voice of Human Conscience suggested in Prelude and

Symphony was performed by Arvid Jansons and the Leningrad Philharmonic in the Soviet Union, and by Leopold Stokowski in the United States. The thought and the sounds of Hiroshima Symphony probably gave some influence on Soviet music after the 1960s.

kind of sonata form. Ohki conceived labouring class of Japan. Hiroshima



l Ohki died of cancer on the l Sth April 1971 His last work was Symphony No.6 "Vietnam" ( 1970), which was dedicated to the Vietnamese people who fought against .

imperialist America.

Morihide KataYama English Trans latiott :




Takuo Yuasa The Japanese conductor Takuo Yuasa has become increasingly well known throughout the world. He has held positions as Principal Conductor of the Gunma Symphony Orchestra in Japan and Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Scottish Orchestra and is Principal Guest Conductor of the Ulster Orchestra in Belfast. Born in Osaka, where he studied piano, cello, flute and clarinet as a child, he continued his education at the University of Cincinnati, going on to a study of conducting under Hans Swarowsky and Igor Markevitch at the Vienna Musikhochschule and with Franco Ferrara in Siena. Since winning a Special Award at the Fitelberg International Competition in Katowice, Takuo Yuasa has regularly conducted the major orchestras there, while continuing his association with the principal orchestras in Japan. Recent engagements have brought appearances from Hong Kong to Trondheim, concerts with the London Philharmonic and Hall6 Orchestras, with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and many others throughout Europe.

New Japan Philharmonic The New Japan Philharmonic (NJP) was inaugurated as an independent orchestra in 1972, in response to a proposal by conductor Seiji Ozawa. Since then, its numerous and varied projects and performances have received universal acclaim and consistently favourable reviews. The NJP charts its own independent path in selecting the content of these concerts, variously emphasizing vocal performance, musical drama, and modern or contemporary compositions. It has received enthusiastic support from its audiences for presenting complete performances of all the symphonies of Beethoven and Brahms, conducted by the late Takashi Asahina, and also for staging Wagner's musical drama The Ring of the Niebelung with exclusively Japanese musicians for the first time. In 1998, the NJP made a concert tour of Russia and gave performances conducted by Seiji Ozawa and Rostropovich in St. Petersburg and Moscow, while in 2002, a series of concerts conducted by Seiji Ozawa was given in Beijing, China. In 2002, the NJP commemorated its own 30th anniversary by performing all of Beethoven's symphonies, conducted by Gerhard Bosse. This record of achievement has received high praise in Japan. A key development for the NJP's future musical activities is the appointment of the young conductor, Christian Arming, as its new music director from September 2003. 8.557839�


ohki masao hiroshima

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