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Earthquake news dominates the channels; CM of the week: Advertising Council Japan

Japan’s commercial television broadcasters and NHK have slowly been returning to regular programming during the last week, but schedules are still dominated by in-depth and up-to-the-minute reports on matters related to the earthquake and tsunami relief effort, as well as to the situation at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

WOWOW, the independent entertainment satellite channel, has no news component and so its programming has not changed at all during the crisis. A quick scan of the contents from March 21-26 reveals no disaster movies that might cause problems, though it might be interesting to find out how many people tune in to the nature documentary “Oceans.”

In terms of movies, the intercultural romantic comedy, based on a “true-life” manga by Saori Oguri about her marriage to American expat Tony Laszlo, “Daarin wa Gaikokujin (My Darling is a Foreigner),” will air Mon. at 5:30 p.m.; and later that evening at 10:50, part two of Stieg Larsson’s best-selling “Millennium” trilogy, “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” will be shown. Some may find the “retribution of the gods” theme of the fantasy epic “Clash of the Titans” inappropriate, but if that’s your cup of tea it airs Tues. at 9 p.m.

Yang Ik Joon’s excellent “Breathless,” a drama about the friendship between a violent Seoul debt collector and a disaffected high school girl, can be seen Wed. at midnight, and “Fish Story,” which JT critic Mark Schilling named the best Japanese film of 2009, will be shown Thurs. at midnight.

CM of the week: Advertising Council Japan

When commercial stations returned to partial normalcy Monday they started airing adverts again, but except for an occasional spot from the part-book publisher DeAgostini, the majority of traffic has been taken up by Advertising Council Japan (AC), a nonprofit organization that coordinates the production of public service announcements with major advertising companies on a volunteer basis.

Several of the spots focus on specific campaigns, such as the one featuring former Japan national soccer team coach Ivica Osim about the importance of receiving medical attention quickly following signs of a stroke; or the message from actress Akiko Nishina and her daughter advocating checkups for cancer of the breast and cervix.

However, most of the AC spots promote positive social values, such as respect for the elderly, the pursuit of knowledge and common courtesy. The subtlest message, and the most beautiful, is a series of “echoed” statements taken from a poem by Misuzu Kaneko that represent the special relationship between a brother and sister. The purpose is to encourage people to speak to one another in a kinder fashion.