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Sunday, May 1, 2005


Fuji TV's "Naruhodo the World" makes a brief comeback, and more

On Monday, TV Tokyo's business documentary series "Gaia no Yoake" (The Dawn of Gaia; 10 p.m.) will look at NEET, an acronym coined in England that stands for "not in education, employment or training," and which describes young adults who are neither in school or in the workforce.

According to the government, there are about 850,000 NEETs in Japan. The number is rising every year, and the social strain is serious enough to have prompted the Japanese government to approve an annual budget of 37 billion yen for measures to help young adults get out of the house and into a job.

Some of these measures involve schools that teach young people how to be independent, but they also include seminars for parents of NEETs who don't know how to talk to their children. The program looks at these measures and also explains the business environment that created the problem.

The original travel quiz show, "Naruhodo the World," which was one of the most popular TV series in the 1980s and early '90s, will make a brief comeback Wednesday night in a special two-and-a-half hour special (Fuji, 7 p.m.) hosted by comedy duo Bakusho Mondai.

Though derided in its day for its occasionally stereotyped reports on foreign lands and cultures, " Naruhodo" fueled a lot of wanderlust at a time when Japanese people started traveling abroad in larger numbers.

Among the sequences included in the special will be actor Goshin Naito's visit to a large family in Missouri; "host club" comedian Hiroshi's trip to France, where he learns about an invention "that would even impress Edison"; and choreographer Kaba.chan's whirlwind tour of Macau.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War. Ahead of the flood of commemorative specials that will air this summer, NHK is presenting a docudrama called "Bokyo" (Homesickness; NHK-G, Saturday, 9 p.m.) about a military doctor named Watanabe (Tomohiro Sekiguchi) who is captured by the Soviets in China in 1945.

Watanabe is sent to a Siberian labor camp with 20,000 other Japanese prisoners. The camp is already filled with Axis soldiers, and the doctor makes friends with one, who happens to be Romanian. A year later, the Romanian soldier is sent to a more remote camp, where, it is rumored, conditions are so harsh that everyone dies. Watanabe gives his friend all his clothing and in return the Romanian gives Watanabe an engagement ring he had intended for his fiancee.

The ring is eventually confiscated and Watanabe is released in 1947. He never forgets his friend, and in 1989, following the fall of Ceaucescu, Watanabe receives a letter from Romania.

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