CCTV to screen series on Japan

As China-Japan relations thaw the national television network has announced plans for a series on Japanese society.

CCTV will launch the series in early March, the TV station said yesterday.

The 20-part series, called Yansong: Eyes on Japan, comes as details are finalised for Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Japan in April.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited China in October.

"We thought we were familiar with Japan, but it's not the case," said well-known TV personality Bai Yansong, who will present the programs. "Actually it's a very strange country to many Chinese people.

"As the national and largest network, it's our duty to provide a comprehensive and objective view of Japan," he added.

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CCTV will send its biggest ever team of journalists to Japan on March 4 to begin working on the series.

Their 15-20 day screening schedule will cover exclusive interviews with at least 10 Japanese figures in fields ranging from politics and economics to the arts.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe, former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, famous author Junichi Watanabe and actor Ken Takakura who are all well known in China, will be interviewed.

Several documentaries will also be produced, covering topics like Japanese history, the nation's animation industry, sumo wrestling, the young generation, and the aging society.

"I think many Chinese do not know Japan particularly well, especially about our history after World War II and contemporary Japan," said Keiji Ide(井出敬二), minister of the Embassy of Japan in Beijing, "We hope we can show them the real Japan through this series."

Ide said he hoped the project would contribute to Japan's efforts to boost China-Japan ties and promised to try his best to help with the interviews.

The programs will have a prime time broadcast on CCTV-1 in March, while CCTV's news channel and some live news programs will also be dedicated to Japan. The series will be over however before Premier Wen visits Japan in April.