Ishibashi’s strong resentment toward the establishment stems from her family’s plight at the end of World War II, a war she blames on Japanese militarists.
As Japan’s defeat became increasingly evident in 1944, Ishibashi’s father was drafted in Korea.
He died a year later. Ishibashi said her mother “went through hell” in the course of being repatriated to Japan and in raising her then 1-year-old daughter amid the rubble of a defeated nation.
After graduating from Waseda, Ishibashi spent some 10 years as a singer and actress, traveling to Russia for the first time in 1976. She was captivated by Moscow’s desolate nature, which dovetailed with her childhood hardships.
Ishibashi began to collect and sing underground Russian songs, which portrayed the true feelings of the people suppressed by the communist regime, and grew increasingly aware of the reality of Soviet life.
—Yumi Wijers-Hasegawa, “Songs of oppressed now serve to inspire”, The Japan Times, 25 March 2003