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Sunday, June 21, 2009


Documentary on Okinawan tragedy, a look at 'eco points,' and a maid detective drama

There continues to be controversy over whether or not the Japanese Imperial army induced residents of Okinawa to commit suicide after the Americans invaded at the end of World War II. This week, NHK will broadcast a documentary featuring rare interviews with two brothers who survived the invasion after killing members of their own family.

"Shudan Jiketsu Aru Kyodai no Kuno" ("The Anguish of Brothers Involved in Group Suicide"; NHK-G, Mon., 10:45 p.m.) relates how the tragedy unfolded on Tokashiki Island, which is part of the Okinawan archipelago. More than 300 people died during the invasion, and two brothers describe how, as a "last resort," they killed the other members of their family, but survived themselves. After the war, they went their separate ways and never saw each other again. The documentary traces their memories back to that horrible day.

The government has earmarked some ¥15 trillion for economic measures to offset the effects of the recession. The main purpose is to stimulate consumption, but just how well is the scheme working?

This week, the business documentary show, "Gaia no Yuake" ("The Dawn of Gaia"; TV Tokyo, Tues., 10 p.m.), looks at the effectiveness of targeting consumption to pull the economy up. One of the core strategies is the ¥660 billion plan to promote the sale of energy-saving "eco" products to replace older home appliances, as well as hybrid cars that use less gasoline and produce less greenhouse gases. Many experts wonder if this plan will actually have any positive effect at all. Nevertheless, retailers are competing vigorously and the "eco point" system has so far been instrumental in boosting sales, even though until last Wednesday, no one knew what these points could be used for. Is it a good deal, or isn't it?

Young women dressed as maids are all the rage in Akihabara. They, however, have nothing to do with the new TV Asahi mystery series "Maid Keiji" (Maid Detective; Fri., 11:15 p.m.), based on a novel by Yuji Hayame.

Apparently, full-time housekeepers who dress in frilly black-and-white uniforms are still employed by wealthy families in Kyoto. One of them, who worked for the Sengoku family, is found drowned in the Kamo River. It is ruled a suicide since a note is found — supposedly written by the girl — in which she confesses to accidentally breaking a priceless vase that has been in the family for generations.

Inspector Kaido (Yuji Harada) isn't convinced it's a suicide, but the Sengoku family isn't cooperating. As it happens, Kaido is also well-off and "orders" his own maid, Aoi (Saki Fukuda), to apply for a job with the family and work for him undercover.

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