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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Channel surf

Kiheita Okazaki is a shadow figure of history who is more famous in China than he is in his native Japan. In 1972, during normalization talks between the two countries, Chinese leader Zhou En Lai hailed Okazaki as the man who made the talks possible.

This week's "NHK Special" (NHK-G, Monday, 10 p.m.) will present a documentary about the life of Okazaki and his impact on Japanese diplomacy. Following the war, Japan strengthened its relations with the Nationalist government of Taiwan, ignoring Communist China. Okazaki, working as a private business leader with no official government approval, worked hard to build a bridge with China during these years. His belief was that a diplomat must place himself in the position of his counterpart in order to reach a constructive agreement on anything. He met with Zhou 18 times on his own to discuss coexistence and the stabilization of eastern Asia.

Naturally, his efforts were condemned by reactionaries in Japan who branded him a communist, which may explain why his name is still not very well known here.

Junichi Watanabe's steamy romantic novel "Ai no Rukeichi (Love's Land of Exile)" has already been made into a hit movie, so it was only a matter of months before it got the more detailed TV miniseries treatment. Nihon TV will broadcast its version in two two-hour parts on Wednesday and Thursday starting at 9 p.m.

Goro Kishitani stars at Kikuji, a romance novelist who meets Fuyuka (Saki Takaoka) during a visit to Kyoto. A housewife who feels stifled in her marriage, Fuyuka falls deeply in love with the writer, and they embark on a passionate love affair. She follows Kikuji to his hometown in Hokkaido, where they spend every minute together. For the first time in her life Fuyuka is happy, and she dreads the loss of that happiness. While making love, she asks Kikuji to kill her. The second half of the drama is about Kikuji's trial for murder.

This week, TV Tokyo's long-running experts contest, "TV Champion" (Thursday, 7 p.m.), will present a two-hour special about dog training. "TV Champion" has invited trainers before to compete for the title of Best Dog Trainer, and several past participants will return to demonstrate their unique discipline methods. This time they will be working with "problem puppies," meaning very young dogs whose owners can't control them at all.

Among the subjects is a toy poodle that is "extremely territorial" and a "very scary" miniature dachshund. The trainers have three days to make their charges behave properly under specified conditions. Using stuffed animals and dog food, the trainers teach their puppies to heel and to swim in a pool.

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