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Sunday, May 31, 2009


Agriculture maverick, a near-death experience and international-marriage drama

As the worldwide recession continues, Japan is seriously reconsidering its agricultural policies in terms of both exports and self-sufficiency. Moreover, ways must be found to encourage young people to make careers out of farming.

Hirokazu Kiuchi has already shaken up the agricultural establishment with his revolutionary management methods. He's the subject of this week's edition of "Professional: Shigoto no Ryugi" ("Professional: Methods for Working"; NHK-G, Tues., 10 p.m.), where he explains why his collective of farms enjoys annual revenues that are twice as large as the national average.

Kiuchi started with a basic philosophy that says "you must be suspicious of the status quo." He and his followers never take customary practices at face value and challenge "normal" business concepts.

I n March, while running the Tokyo Marathon, roly-poly comedian Kunihiro Matsumura fainted at the halfway point. Even worse, his heart stopped for a short while. Though one could make a serious point about consulting a physician before undertaking such a strenuous stunt — especially if you're overweight — Matsumura has since used the incident to improve his brand-name value.

He'll talk about his near death experience on the talk-variety show "Downtown DX" (Nihon TV, Thurs., 10 p.m.). Matsumura remembers that even after he collapsed, "I still thought I was running." He also talks about the e-mails he received while he was in the hospital, some supportive, some derisive. But will he mention the comment from Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, his "boss" on the Tokyo MX variety show "Tokyo Boys," who commented later, "Fat people shouldn't run?"

Also on the program is former sumo star Mainoumi, who has the same doctor as Matsumura. He'll reveal some "shocking information."

N HK has adapted Eto Mori's 2006 Naoki Prize-winning novel, "Kaze ni Maiagaru Biniru Shiito" ("A Vinyl Sheet Blowing in the Wind"; NHK-G, Sat., 9:30 p.m.) into a five-part miniseries. The protagonist is a young woman named Rika (Kazue Fukuishi), who quits her job at a bank to work for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, not so because she wants to help people, but because she thinks it will look good on her resume.

She meets Ed (popular DJ Chris Peppler), who intuits her real intentions immediately, and though their relationship is often combative, they fall in love and eventually marry.

In episode 2, airing this week, Ed is given an overseas assignment. Erika is upset because she wants him to stay with her but she also doesn't want to pressure him with her feelings, so she decides to ask for a divorce. Then she learns that he's been shot.

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