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The suicide rate goes up at the end of the year, an increase that’s usually attributed to depression in the face of what is perceived as everybody else’s high holiday spirits. In Japan, there’s another reason for despair. That’s the prospect of being stuck in the company of relatives you hate eating food you can’t stand. To that, add the unavoidable blitz of New Year’s TV specials and it’s enough to drive even the most well-adjusted person over the edge.

Entertainment preempts everything on TV this time of year, including “wide shows” and news programs, which is why last week’s announcement of Princess Masako’s miscarriage was not inflated into a national tragedy of hand-wringing proportions.

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