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Yoko Ono Recalls Own Struggles With Hunger in Japan

John Lennon's widow lends 'Imagine' to anti-hunger charity

December 5, 2013 6:05 PM ET
Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono at the Hard Rock Cafe Tokyo.
Hard Rock International/ Tsutomu Fujita AP Images for Invision

Yoko Ono has granted the use of her late husband John Lennon's song "Imagine" to WhyHunger's "Imagine There's No Hunger" campaign. At an event for the campaign in Tokyo, she also recalled her own struggles with hunger as a child growing up amidst the bombings of Japan during World War II.

"I remember being hungry and I know it's so difficult to just be hungry," Ono said, according to the Associated Press. "One day I didn't bring a lunchbox. The other kids asked, don't you want to eat? I just said, no, I'm not hungry." While Ono was born into a wealthy family, like many Japanese citizens, she went through a difficult period after fleeing Tokyo during bombing raids. She even recalled those she knew who had starved to death or others who had died after eating poisonous mushrooms.

Watch Yoko Ono and the Flaming Lips Send a Message on 'Letterman'

Ono added that she believed Lennon would approve of the use of "Imagine" in WhyHunger's campaign, which will benefit efforts geared towards child nutrition and sustainable farming in 22 countries. The event was capped off by a performance of "Imagine" from MayDay, a popular rock outfit from Taiwan.

"My husband and I really wanted to do something for the world, especially for the children," Ono said. "Children have pride, too, so they don't beg you, but they are in pain and they are starving."

In September, Ono released her new album, Take Me to the Land of Hell, her first full-length since 2009's Between My Head and the Sky. The record featured a slew of guest performers, including Questlove and tUnE-yArDs' Merrill Garbus, as well as remixes from surviving Beastie Boys Ad-Rock and Mike D. You can watch the Beasties – along with Questlove, This American Life host Ira Glass, R&B singer Roberta Flack and others – bust a move alongside Ono in the charming clip for the Take Me cut "Bad Dancer."

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