MAKUHARI, Japan – The Live 8 global music marathon to raise awareness of African poverty began in Japan on Saturday, as Bjork (search) and Good Charlotte (search) joined local bands in a concert that failed to generate much interest in Asia's only G-8 nation.
Added to the Live 8 list at the last minute, the concert in Japan drew only about 10,000 people, all of whom were selected in a lottery. The venue in this Tokyo suburb normally holds about 20,000.
Even so, organizers said that considering they had less than a month to prepare, it was a good showing.
"There's no precedent for this," said Lily Sobhani (search), one of the event's organizers. "This was done mega-quick. It's absolutely amazing that this is happening in Japan."
Despite the small turnout in Tokyo, performers said they were glad to be part of the larger event.
"It's a good event for Africa, a good event for the world," said Jesse, the lead singer for Rize (search), a Japanese hard rock/rap band that had the honor of kicking it all off. "We'd play even if it was just for one person."
"It's encouraging they got something together," Joel Madden, Good Charlotte's lead vocalist, told The Associated Press. "Maybe next time they'll get twice as many people."
Japan became the kickoff point because it is in an earlier time zone than the other host cities around the world. Organizers say Live 8 will bring 100 artists on stage in nine countries and reach an audience of more than 5.5 billion people.
It failed to create much of a buzz here, however.
Japan's lineup, announced just a week ago, was a far cry from U2, Madonna and Paul McCartney, who will be performing in London, or Stevie Wonder and Destiny's Child, who will be among the stars on stage in Philadelphia.
But organizers say the inclusion of Tokyo was significant because Japan is the only Asian country hosting Live 8, and is also the only Asian country in the G-8. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (search) will be traveling to Scotland next week to attend the summit.
"Japan is an economic powerhouse," said Claire Lewis, of the British development and relief agency Oxfam (search) which is helping organize the event. "We feel Japan should be represented and there should be a voice from Japan saying we want to have an end to poverty."
The other Live 8 concerts will be held in Britain, France, Germany, Canada, the United States, Russia, South Africa and Italy.
"So many people are going to be watching it on their televisions — that's what really matters," said Harry Judd, of the British band McFly.