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Sunday, Nov. 11, 2007


Employment issues special, weight loss special, Vermeer art special

Japan's employment situation is discussed in depth on "Nippon no Shukuzu: Sennin ni Kiku Haken no Honne (Japan in a Nutshell: A Thousand People Tell Their Real Feelings About Contract Work)" (NHK-G, Monday, 10 p.m.). About one-third of all workers in Japan are either part-timers, contract employees or temporary workers, meaning they don't receive the benefits full-time company employees receive even though they work the same hours. NHK has solicited 1,000 such workers to discuss their situations in the studio or at home via Internet connections.

These workers talk about a variety of issues, including the end of Japan's traditional lifetime employment system, the introduction of the "achievement-based" merit system of pay and promotion, the phenomenon of "death from overwork," the increasing economic stratification of society, and the widening gap between those at the bottom of the income hierarchy and those at the top.

The topic on this week's installment of the variety show "Za Sekai Gyoten News (The World's Astonishing News)" (Nihon TV, Wednesday, 9 p.m.) is losing weight.

The main feature report is about a couple living in the United States who never weighed themselves because they didn't own a scale.

Apparently, they didn't own a mirror, either, since they didn't realize they were overweight until they went to the hospital for a rare checkup and found that their combined weight was 450 kg.

Shocked, they endeavored to lose some of that baggage, but only the wife succeeded. In fact, she managed to shed 136 kg.

The program looks into how she did it and how she kept herself motivated.

Meanwhile, back in the studio, the celebrity guests participate in a quiz about the calorie content of popular dishes found in department-store food bazaars.

They also get to sample some of these dishes, which leads to a beef binge by female "big-eating" champion Gyaru Sone.

Right now, the National Art Center in Tokyo is presenting an exhibition of works by the Dutch master Jan Vermeer and his contemporaries.

The art appreciation show "Bi no Kyojin-tachi (Giants of Beauty)" (Tokyo, Saturday, 10 p.m.) will look at one of Vermeer's most famous paintings, "The Love Letter."

There are only 35 Vermeer paintings known to exist in the world, and "The Love Letter" is one of the smallest, measuring 44 by 38.5 cm.

It shows a servant and her mistress as viewed from an adjacent room, the mistress expressing surprise at the contents of a letter she is reading.

Very little is known about Vermeer, and "The Love Letter" has perplexed scholars for many years.

The program discusses certain "tricks" he may have used to realize the painting's unusual visual effect.

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