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Sunday, Feb. 4, 2007

Channel surf

This week, NHK's series "Welfare Network" series presents a special two-part documentary called "Facing Suicide." (NHK-E, Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m.). The program is a followup to an "Educational TV Wide" documentary aired last November about a suicide prevention program on the island of Amami Oshima, which is located off the coast of Kagoshima. It's the idea of one man, a civil servant who works for the island's local government.

Noting that the suicide rate on the island has increased in past years, he carried out research and found that the main reasons people consider suicide are inheritance problems, debt and divorce, with debt being mentioned in at least half the responses. He also found that when families committed suicide together, money was usually the reason.

The man has created a network of lawyers and experts to provide support for people who may feel they cannot escape their financial woes. In the second part of the program on Thursday night, viewers offer their own stories and suggestions related to the topic.

Like many cities in Japan, Nagoya has its own accent and its own culture. To outsiders, the citizens of Nagoya are obsessed with money and showing it off, as expressed in the local practice of parading one's wedding gifts on flat-bed trucks through the streets.

On Sunday, Feb. 11, at 4:05 p.m., Fuji TV will present a locally made "home drama" called "Nagoya Kotobuki Rock 'n' Roll," which attempts to show how Nagoyans are different from other Japanese.

Thirty-two-year-old Aki (Tomoko Nakajima) works part-time for a delivery company. She lives with her boyfriend, Yaku, and her junior high school-age daughter Hatsuki, who was born when Aki was in high school. Aki's family is always pressuring her and Yaku to get married, but they seem happy the way they are. However, one day things change when Yaku gets the idea to move to Australia.

Also on Feb. 11, TV Tokyo will broadcast the first of a two-part drama on the early life of former Diet member Yoshiko Yamaguchi, who was also known as the Chinese singer Li Xianglan or, in Japanese, "Ri Koran," which is the title of the drama (Feb. 11 and 12, 8:54 p.m.).

Yamaguchi (Aya Ueto) was born in Manchuria to Japanese parents, but as a girl she was adopted by a Chinese friend of her father's. She was trained as a popular singer and become a star of stage and screen in both China and Japan, though her Chinese fans didn't know she was Japanese. Following the war, she was arrested and prosecuted by the Chinese Nationalists for treason, but when they discovered that she was a Japanese national, they deported her. Later, she even went to Hollywood, where she was known as Shirley Yamaguchi.

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