One of the most popular series on NHK is “Tsurube no Kazoku ni Kampai (Tsurube Toasts Families)” (NHK-G, Monday, 7:30 p.m.), in which sandpaper-voiced rakugoka (comic storyteller) Tsurube Shofukutei and a guest visit a town or village and casually strike up conversations with people on the street with the aim of being invited back to their homes to meet their families.
For the first time, Tsurube will take his traveling show overseas, specifically to the South Korean island of Jeju. Tsurube’s guest is Korean singer-actress Yun Son Ha, who for the last decade has developed a successful career as a TV personality in Japan.
Tsurube is famous for his happy-go-lucky attitude, but he was quite intimidated by this trip and reportedly couldn’t sleep the night before departure. Without much preparation and no Korean language ability, he meets Yun at Jeju’s airport and, separately, they try to converse with people they meet at random. The reaction is quite unexpected.
Among the most compelling figures to emerge in the aftermath of the Pacific War was Radhabinod Pal, the Indian who was one of three Asian justices to sit in judgment of Japanese accused of war crimes during the Tokyo Tribunal.
NHK examines this enigmatic figure in the documentary “Pal Hanju Shinjitsu (The Truth About Justice Pal)” (NHK-G, Tuesday, 10 p.m.). Pal wrote the minority opinion following the 25 convictions of those on trial, including seven who were sentenced to death. As a native of a country that was under British colonial rule during the war, Pal couldn’t help but look on the trial as being hypocritical, and he said so in no uncertain terms.
Over the years, Pal has become a hero to Japanese who believe that their country’s aims in the war were noble, but the truth is more complicated. NHK sent reporters to Bangladesh, the country where Pal was raised, to find out more about him. They also went to Europe to interview people who knew him well as a man and as a jurist. In doing so they uncovered information about his personality and pacifist beliefs that better explain his opinion of the Tokyo Tribunal.
To mark the anniversary of Japan’s World War II surrender, NHK will on Aug. 15 present “Kotoba de Heiwa wo Tsumugitai (Spinning the Yarn of Peace with Words)” (BS2, 9:20 p.m.), which features veteran actress Sayuri Yoshinaga reading poems and children’s stories written by atomic-bomb victims and other war survivors. Also featured are interviews with adults who attended her readings as children. They describe how they were affected by the experience.