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Father documents autistic son’s schooling; Nikkatsu founder’s story dramatized; CM of the week: Suntory

by Philip Brasor

Until about 15 years ago, many children with developmental disabilities did not receive special attention, but now some 116,000 special education students throughout Japan attend classes in regular elementary schools, and the number is increasing every year.

This week, “Heartnet TV” (NHK-E, Mon., 8 p.m.) will look at one autistic boy, Hikaru Tamura, who attends such a class. Hikaru’s father is a director at NHK, and he kept a video diary of his son’s school experience for 240 days. The special class was established at his school seven years ago.

Hikaru is a new boy in class, and at first he has difficulties because he tends to be stubborn and is not comfortable working in groups.

Shokichi Umeya, who founded the movie studio that eventually became Nikkatsu, is considered by many to be the father of Japanese cinema. The drama special, “Tatta Ichido Yakusoku” (“Just One Promise”; TV Tokyo, Wed., 9 p.m.), looks at Umeya’s life, which was one of the most momentous of the Meiji Era (1868-1912).

Umeya (Toshiro Yanagiba) was born to a trading company family based in Nagasaki in the mid-1800s. Expected to take over the business, he instead ran away to Asia and settled in Hong Kong for a number of years. Later, he returned to Nagasaki and married, but quickly returned to Hong Kong by himself, where he set up a photography studio. Eventually he befriended the revolutionary Sun Yat-sen (Tatsuhito Okuda), and helped fund his political activities. In fact, he established his film studio in 1905 in order to make a documentary about the revolution.

CM of the Week: Suntory

Suntory’s kakubin (square bottle) whiskey is the company’s big seller. Not as cheap as “Red” and not as pricey as “Old,” it’s the liquor of choice for salarymen who love highballs. Since 2007, Suntory has advertised the brand with commercials that take place in an intimate bar run by a beautiful young woman. First it was model-actress Koyuki, who had to retire after she became pregnant with her first child. Then it was actress Miho Kanno, who had to retire due to … you guessed it, her first pregnancy.

The new bartender is Haruka Igawa, who is slightly older than her predecessors and has already given birth to two kids. Suntory may be hoping that her delivery days are over.