Bob Woodward and Noam Chomsky discuss current U.S. administration; women’s relay race near Fuji; CM of the week: Pizza-La

This week, NHK’s “Asian Voices” series (BS-1, Mon., 1 p.m.) will present a special discussion of whether or not the United States’ reputation as the world’s defender of freedom and justice has been compromised by recent revelations of widespread government surveillance of citizens and the use of drones to prosecute its wars in the Middle East.

The program will interview two of the most prominent figures in this discussion. Bob Woodward was half of the Washington Post team that investigated the Watergate break-in, and whose journalism led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. He will reveal his insider’s take on the current administration. Noam Chomsky, professor of linguistics at MIT, is one of the most caustic critics of American policy. He’ll talk about the image of the U.S. in the world.

During the winter, there is an ekiden (long-distance relay race) competition broadcast live almost every weekend. On Monday afternoon, Fuji TV will present the “2013 Fuji-san Joshi Ekiden” (“2013 Mount Fuji Women’s Ekiden”; 2 p.m.), a race featuring teams of women runners representing Japanese universities. It is the only televised women’s ekiden dedicated exclusively to college students, and was originally started by TV Tokyo in 2004, when it took place in Saitama Prefecture. In 2007, the location was changed to Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, but in 2010 TV Tokyo canceled the race due to money problems. This will be the first time the race has resumed since then, and Fuji TV decided to move it to within sight of Mount Fuji, in commemoration of Fuji being designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

CM of the week: Pizza-La

Because she graduated from a university in Boston, TV personality Mari Sekine, daughter of veteran comedian Tsutomu Sekine, tends to appear in commercials related to English speaking or the United States, though one would be hard put to associate the pizzas created by Japan’s No. 1 pizza chain, Pizza-La, with the American species of fast food.

In this offering for New Year’s, Sekine and some younger female associates do a dance in front of several giant red crustaceans to promote a new combination that features two types of “real” crabmeat, as well as shrimp, all contained in what looks like a mountain of “cream gratin.” Is there any actual pizza under all that?

  • Matt McLaughlin

    “Ten years ago Iran offered to resolve its differences with the United States over nuclear programs,” he writes, “along with all other issues. The Bush administration rejected the offer angrily and reprimanded the Swiss diplomat who conveyed it.”

    Ultimately, Chomsky concludes, the United States and Israel have been so stubborn in their negotiations with Iran because they fear dealing with a true deterrent in the region, which a nuclear Iran would certainly be. “There are in fact two rogue states operating in the region, resorting to aggression and terror and violating international law at will: the United States and its Israeli client,” Chomsky writes. “Iran has indeed carried out an act of aggression: conquering three Arab islands under the U.S.-backed Shah. But any terror credibly attributed to Iran pales in comparison with that of the rogue states.”