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Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012

CHANNEL SURF

"Court Martial in the Field of Battle"; Why didn't Japan Surrender?; CM of the week: Meiji Bono Cheese

Commercial stations normally broadcast specials about the end of the war at this time of the year, but apparently they spent too much money on Olympic coverage, and a large portion of air time this week is devoted to recaps.

It's up to NHK to take up the slack. On Tuesday it will present a documentary, "Senjo no Gunpo Kaigi" ("Court Martial in the Field of Battle"; NHK-G, 10 p.m.), that utilizes newly uncovered testimony about front-line trials that took place during the latter stages of the war. Supply lines to troops in the Philippines and New Guinea were curtailed. Starving soldiers would wander through the jungles without permission, looking for food. Some were arrested and tried for desertion, then executed as an example to others. At the end of the war, the military destroyed all the official records, but this documentary is based on documents that one army lawyer kept secretly, as well as a 14-hour tape of his own verbal recollections.

A larger subject is addressed in "Shusen Kosaku: Naze Motto Hayaku Dekinakatta Ka?" ("End of War Strategy: Why Couldn't it Have Ended Sooner?"; NHK-G, Wed., 7:30 p.m.), which explores the still-controversial question of why Japan didn't surrender sooner. The closer the allies came to the Japanese mainland, the more rapidly Japanese casualties increased, both military and civilian. Japanese leaders knew the cause was lost, and yet they continued to prosecute the war. NHK's program presents new information revealed in documents recently found in British archives showing how Japan was alerted to Soviet intentions to join the war against Japan early on, as well as Japan's efforts to negotiate with them.

CM of the week

Meiji Bono Cheese: Actually, it's processed snack cheese, and this commercial featuring 20-year-old model Reina Triendl is pretty processed as well. Against a mechanically repetitive jingle, Triendl and some brightly dressed comrades dance about on a cartoon soundstage while gingerly nibbling on the little tubes of congealed milk product. Triendl tackles a human-sized Bono package and falls forward off of a zabuton (cushion). Frivolity is the operative concept here, though Triendl's awkwardness conveys the impression that the whole thing is an ordeal. It's difficult to make processed cheese genuinely seem like this much fun.



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