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Sunday, Feb. 25, 2007

Channel surf

There has been concern for years now that Japanese children are leading sedentary lives and growing up without proper communications skills.

One reason for these developments is that kids no longer play outdoors, but instead stay inside playing computer games or watching TV.

This week, NHK's "Premium 10" (NHK-G, Monday, 10 p.m.) will hold a studio discussion with residents of Kokubunji City in Tokyo about solutions to this problem.

It has been found that up to 80 percent of the elementary school-age children in Kokubunji either play at home or at the homes of their friends, mainly because there are no open spaces in the city where children can play freely.

Even the city's parks have restrictions that prevent children from engaging in spontaneous play: 60 percent prohibit any kind of activity that uses a ball, for instance, and some even forbid running. Consequently, the children who use the parks usually go there to play portable computer games.

The residents talk about these rules, which were passed for the benefit of nearby property owners, and wonder how they can be amended for the benefit of children. They also talk about a program in Kawasaki that actually encourages active play in the city's parks.

Several years ago, TV tarento Aki Mukai made headlines when she and her husband went to the United States and recruited a surrogate mother to give birth to their sons.

She wrote a book entitled "Aitakatta (I Wanted to Meet You)" that became a best seller, and this week "Kinyo Prestige" (Fuji, Friday, 9 p.m.) presents a dramatization of her story.

After Mukai (Yuki Matsushita) becomes pregnant, doctors discover she has cancer of the uterus, which they remove. However, her ovaries remain intact, and she is able to undergo the difficult process of removing her ova. It takes several attempts before her fertilized eggs are successfully implanted in a surrogate.

Eventually, a woman named Cindy Van Reed gives birth to twins for Mukai and her pro-wrestler husband Nobuhiko Takada (Kazuki Sawamura).

At present, the couple are still fighting the government to have their children registered as their own, but that's a story for a different drama.

The TV Asahi travel show "Pokapoka Chi-kyu Kazoku (Warm Families of the World)" (Saturday, 6:30 p.m.) visits Japanese people who are living overseas.

This week, the show goes to Paris, where a woman named Yoshiko Shimane lives with her hearing-impaired husband and their one child in the arty working class neighborhood of Montmartre, which was made famous in the hit movie "Amelie."

The program shows how Shimane supports her husband -- who makes violin bows for a living. It also delves into her relationships with family and friends, many of whom are also hearing impaired.

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