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Exploring cancer research, the classic ‘Sakura’ and filial piety

Two years ago journalist and critic Takashi Tachibana was operated on for bladder cancer. The experience made him curious about research into cures for the disease, and what he learned is outlined in “Tachibana Takashi Saizensen Hokoku, Gan to Ningen, Hateshinaku Tatakai” (Takashi Tachibana’s Front Line Report, Cancer and Humans, Endless Struggle; NHK-G, Mon., 10 p.m.).

Tachibana travels all over the world, visiting cancer research centers and interviewing experts about the latest developments. He learns some difficult truths about how cancer, always associated with death, is actually a pure manifestation of the life force. Cancer is present in all living things and is itself a complex organism. He reaches the conclusion that regardless of whether or not a cure is found, human beings will face the possibility of contracting cancer in a completely new way.

One of the most popular songs of the last decade was Naotaro Moriyama’s “Sakura,” which has become both a karaoke staple and popular graduation anthem. On “A-Studio” (TBS, Fri., 11 p.m.) rakugo storyteller Shofukutei Tsurube tries to find out how the song came about.

First he visits Kaito Okachimachi, a poet who has known Moriyama since they were in school together and who wrote the lyrics to “Sakura.” Then, Tsurube calls on the singer’s mother, Yoko Moriyama, who was a popular singer in the 1960s, as well as his brother-in-law, comedian Hiroaki Ogi.

He finally ends up back in the studio, where Moriyama himself talks about “Sakura” and introduces a brand new song called “Namida” (Tears).

Dramatist Sugako Hashida’s latest teleplay, “Kekkon” (Marriage; TV Asahi, Sat., 9 p.m.), rehashes all her favorite themes again, though filial piety seems to be the main one since it is put through double duty this time.

Tetsuya Wataru plays Yuzo, who runs a kimono accessories store that has been in his family for generations. He desperately wants his only child, Chikage (Aya Ueto), to take over the business, which basically means that whomever she marries will have to take on the family name since married couples can’t have separate names and Yuzo couldn’t countenance changing the name of the store.

Chikage talks to her boyfriend, Hirota (Satoshi Tokushige), about getting married, but she’s dismayed by his reaction to her father’s wishes. Hirota, who is also an only child, nevertheless brings up the matter with his own parents. They disapprove since taking over the kimono business will mean Hirota will have to be adopted by Yuzo. He wants Chikage to talk to her father and try to reach some kind of compromise, but Chikage is too scared to bring it up.