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Sunday, July 28, 2002
Putting her house in order
In Japan, the vast majority of legal adoptions -- more than 90 percent -- are of adults and are usually carried out for inheritance or family succession purposes. A house with only daughters, say, will adopt a grown man who can maintain the family business and family name.
The remaining adoptions are all of infants who will likely never be told by their adoptive parents that they are, in fact, adopted. These children can learn they were adopted later in life since the fact is recorded in the family register, but if a person isn't looking for it, he or she can easily go through life never knowing.
Generally speaking, orphans in Japan are hidden from society's sight. In many cases, these children have either been abandoned by their parents or taken away from them by the authorities because of abuse. There are many orphanages throughout Japan, and at the moment they are filled to capacity. What goes on there is a secret, and the media rarely reports on these institutions, unless something odd occurs. Last year, several orphans "escaped" from an institution in Chiba, saying they couldn't stand the jail-like atmosphere. The story disappeared after a day.
This week's "Document '02" (Nippon TV, Sunday, 12:55 a.m.) will profile the Sakamotos, a Tokyo couple who are raising five foster children, ranging in age from 5 to 9. In the entire city of Tokyo, there are only 200 registered foster families. According to specialists, most orphans grow up severely traumatized, which is why family-type foster care is so important. But almost all of these orphans are forced to spend their entire childhood and adolescence locked up in institutions.
When you need assistance of some kind but can't figure out exactly who to call, the best person to contact is your local benriya-san, a kind of commercial jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none. They'll do everything from simple repair jobs to filling out your wedding guest list with proxy friends and relatives. If the task you need doing does not require some kind of certification, then the benriya-san is your man. Or woman. These days, most benriya-san are called upon for housecleaning services.
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This Tuesday, on TV Asahi's documentary series, "Gendai Shinkokei Imagine (Present Progressive Form Imagine)" (8 p.m.), a female benriya-san is hired by a woman who hasn't cleaned her house in eight years. Recently, the media has picked up on a bizarre tendency among a subset of single women who never clean house or throw anything away. Extreme cases collect garbage on their verandas for months, even years, or simply accumulate everything around them in huge mountains of moldering clutter.
As the benriya-san tackles this monumental job, the program attempts to explain why some women fall into this lifestyle.
The epic story of Kazuko Fukuda, the famous housewife who eluded arrest for a 1982 murder until just before the statute of limitations ran out in 1997, has already been exploited by the movies ("Kao") and television ("Africa no Yoru"), but in both cases, Fukuda's fugitive tale was adapted as fiction.
This Friday at 9 p.m., Fuji TV will present a dramatization of the real story, based on the facts as we know them now. "The Real Record of Kazuko Fukuda" stars Shinobu Otake in the title role. Born in Ehime Prefecture in 1948, Fukuda first married when she was 20 and divorced when she was 25. She remarried a year later and supposedly was happy, until around the time when she was 34 and started accumulating debt through private loan companies. In 1982, she started working at a bar as a hostess to help pay off these debts, and killed a fellow worker.
For the next 15 years, she moved from town to town, always one step ahead of the police. For one very long stretch, however, she lived in Kanazawa City with a man who owned a confectionery store and became a prominent member of the community.
If you still haven't had enough of Monta Mino, the busiest man on television, you'll want to tune into Saturday's "Super Special 2002" (Nihon TV, 7 p.m.), which will present a special two-hour installment of Monta's long-running noontime talk show, "Omoikkiri Terebi," where the voluble emcee gives advice on everything from nosy mothers-in-law to backaches.
On this 15th anniversary prime-time "expanded version," Monta and a group of celebrity guests will review several of the most popular health tips that have been featured since the show began. Housewives tune in every day mainly for the health tip, which tends to be very influential, at least for one day. If, for example, Monta says at noon that rubbing eggplant skin on your face will eliminate wrinkles, by 3 p.m. every eggplant in town will be gone from the vegetable stores.
Among the tips that will be reviewed for "re-verification" are one that says a combination of natto and kimchi improves blood circulation; and another that claims crossing your second toe over your big toe will help slim your waistline.