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Sunday, May 24, 2009

CHANNEL SURF

Trial suspense, dealing with depression and the problem with pedigrees

A recent NHK documentary about the new lay judge system cited a survey that found many citizens were learning about trials by watching movies and TV dramas. To that end, TBS's ongoing drama series "Hotei Suspense" ("Trial Suspense") should be popular.

As pointed out in last week's Channel Surf, the series' usefulness in terms of what people can learn about the law is not clear. This week's story focuses on veteran Judge Kamiya (Hideki Takahashi), who is famous for his harsh sentences.

Judge Kamiya presides over a hit-and-run case in which a woman and her child were killed. The prosecution is asking for the death penalty, but the defense is trying to get a jail sentence of a determined length. Matters become complicated when Kamiya's daughter, Mari (Ai Maeda), is kidnapped and he receives a note saying that Mari will be killed if he gives the defendant the death penalty.

Depression has come out of the closet in Japan in recent years, so we'll probably be seeing more programs like the three-part drama series "Tsure ga Utsu ni Narimashita" ("My Partner Has Depression"; NHK-G, Fri., 10 p.m.), which is based on a comic and has been produced with the aid of psychiatrists.

Noriko (Norika Fujiwara) is an unpublished comic artist and writer. Her husband, Akira (Taizo Harada, of the comedy group Neptunes), works for a company that is being restructured. Recently, the company has been plagued by complaints about its products, and Akira, who has a strong conscience, stops shipments of the products without consulting his supervisors. He is fiercely reprimanded by an executive.

Akira quickly descends into a spiral of depression. He is always tired, and he talks about death. His wife tries to come to grips with his illness.

It is often the case that Japanese media draw attention to sensitive social problems in Japan by looking at the same problem in foreign countries. This Friday, NHK's BS-1 channel airs a British documentary about the problems associated with breeding pedigree dogs.

"Inutachi no Himei" ("The Screams of Dogs"; 12:10 a.m.) explains the methods that British dog breeders use to keep bloodlines pure and thus their pedigree product more valued. Basically, this methodology comes down to in-breeding between siblings and even parents and their offspring. The documentary presents evidence that this practice leads to puppies with serious physical handicaps and chronic diseases that cause terrible suffering.

A veterinarian interviewed says these practices are advocated in a "bible" for breeders, and a kennel club director insists there is no scientific proof these methods cause health problems.



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