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A friend used to call TV Tokyo the “ramen and golf channel.” He was referring to the station’s penchant for programming centered on food shows and sponsored sports events, which don’t cost as much to produce as drama series or celebrity- laden variety shows. However, the station’s tightwad image was always balanced by its focus on economics in its news reporting. Nihon Keizai Shimbun has a stake in the station, and “World Business Satellite” (M-F, 11 p.m.) is more useful than any of the other nightly TV news reports.

Some of TV Tokyo’s programming also reflects this focus. One of the more interesting talk shows on Japanese TV is “Cambrian Palace” (TV Tokyo, Mon., 10 p.m.), hosted by best-selling novelist and raconteur Ryu Murakami, who set himself up as an expert on economic matters in the mid-90s. One of Murakami’s pet themes is young people entering the workforce. Several years ago, he wrote a book for teens explaining different types of occupations in order to stimulate their desire to pursue fulfilling careers. He wanted to counter the apathy that many believe is behind the current trend of drifting from one part-time job to another, the freeter phenomenon.

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