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Sunday, Feb. 5, 2006


Solve your neighborhood problem with NHK's "Nanmon Kaiketsu" and more

As everyone knows, Japan is no longer a haven of safety. No statistic supports this sad development better than the fact that more than 440,000 bicycles are stolen every year, so don't get angry when a policeman stops you on the street to check your registration. He's only doing his job.

This week on NHK's neighborhood problem-solving show "Nanmon Kaiketsu (Solving Difficult Problems)" (NHK-G, Thursday, 9:15 p.m.) residents of Tokyo's Katsushika Ward who live near Kanamachi Station discuss solutions to the bicycle theft issue. Kanamachi has one of the highest theft rates in the city. Many residents have had more than one bicycle stolen. Part of the problem is that people think there's nothing that can be done, and usually they don't report the theft. The residents discuss preventive measures as well as cooperation with the police.

Waiting on line for something popular is a Japanese tradition that's explored on this week's episode of the popular cartoon "Crayon Shin-chan" (TV Asahi; Friday, 7:30 p.m.).

The beloved big-mouthed, butt-exposing kindergartner Shinnosuke and his family decide to take in a ramen restaurant that recently opened in their neighborhood. However, when they arrive at the restaurant, which is called Bottakuri-ken (Rip-off Restaurant), they find a long line of people waiting to get in. They all have special coupons for free gyoza with their ramen.

They dutifully get in line, but after a long wait, Shinnosuke's mother realizes that she forgot to bring the coupon. Someone will have to go home to fetch it.

In the years following World War II, the Japanese government, in an attempt to relieve some of the pressure caused by widespread poverty and hunger, encouraged farming families to emigrate. One of the destinations the Foreign Ministry promoted was the Dominican Republic. In its solicitations, the ministry promised prospective emigrants 18 hectares of farmland for free in their new country. In the end, 1,319 Japanese people left everything behind and moved permanently to the Dominican Republic, only to find that there was no free land at all.

Next week, "NNN Documentary 06" (Nihon TV; Feb. 12, 12:25 a.m.) looks at the lawsuit some of the surviving emigrants brought against the Japanese government six years ago. In particular, the documentary profiles Noboru Yamamoto, the 22-year-old grandson of one of the plaintiffs, who never received title to any property and for 50 years had to farm on land owned by somebody else. Yamamoto, who grew up in Dominican Republic, now works at a factory in Kanagawa Prefecture. A verdict in the trial is expected this spring.

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