TOKYO -- Japan’s public broadcaster NHK will provide two drama series, Carnation and Atsuhime, to the Myanmar National TV commercial channel for broadcast this summer, as the South East Asian nation continues its shift to a more open society since democratic elections in 2011.
The dramas will be supplied free to Myanmar “to help with the social and educational development of the country,” an NHK spokesperson tells The Hollywood Reporter.
The project was organized by Japan International Broadcasting, the subsidiary of NHK that runs its international English-language news channel NHK World.
The two dramas will screen on a terrestrial service that MNTV will launch in mid-July in three of the country`s biggest cities: Yangon, Mandalay and the capital Naypyidaw. Carnation is scheduled to screen six days a week (Monday to Saturday) after the 7 p.m. news, while Atsuhime will be shown once a week in a late-night slot.
Carnation, which was aired in Japan in 2011 as a morning drama (aso-dora) series, is based on the life story of Ayako Koshino, whose three daughters became internationally renowned fashion designers.
Atsuhime is one of NHK’s 50-episode Taiga historical dramas, which told the tale of the wife of a 19th century shogun, played by Aoi Miyazaki. The series ran throughout 2008 and scored average ratings of 24.5 percent.
JIB and MNTV will also co-produce a series on Japanese culture and history, for which NHK has applied for funds from a major scheme announced by the government in January to promote content and products overseas. “Japanese firms doing business in Myanmar will also be approached to assist in this project,” according to an NHK statement.
It was announced Saturday that a dubbed version of the Chinese TV drama Jin Tailang's Happy Life is about to begin broadcasts in Myanmar, in a move described by China’s state-run Xinhua news agency as helping “to promote the traditional friendship between the two peoples.”
The rivalry between China and Japan, Asia’s two biggest economies, looks set to extend to the worlds of entertainment and culture in the region as the two nations vie to boost their “soft power” influence through the promotion of content in the region.
According to NHK, it has provided some 4,600 programs to 37 countries and regions between April 2012 and March 2013, without giving a breakdown of how much of this content is sold and how much is given away.
Independent newspapers resumed publication in Myanmar in March this year, for the first time since 1964, while the Associated Press opened a fully staffed bureau in the country.