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TV & Radio

Japan to export hit samurai drama across Asia

Japan will soon export its popular samurai TV drama series "Ryomaden" to its Asian neighbours, public broadcaster NHK and the show's heart-throb star Masaharu Fukuyama said Thursday.

"Ryomaden" (Legend of Ryoma) is a year-long weekly drama series about Sakamoto Ryoma (1836-1867), the warrior behind the revolution that ended the country's period of feudal isolation in the 19th century.

NHK said the drama will start showing in Taiwan in November and in South Korea and Thailand from early next year, while mainland China, Hong Kong and Vietnam are also planning to air it soon.

The show has been huge hit in Japan and has sparked a popular craze about Ryoma, whose picture has since graced countless magazine covers and advertising posters for a range of products.

"Sakamoto Ryoma is one of the most famous figures in the history of Japan, whom many Japanese people still admire very much," Fukuyama said about his role at a Tokyo press conference.

"I think the drama will earn many people's sympathy overseas as it shows how dedicated he was to move on despite many losses and failures in life."

Sakamoto is revered for helping Japan avert a major civil war while under foreign pressure in the mid-1800s by forcing the military rulers of the Tokugawa Shogunate to return political power to the emperor.

This paved the way for the Meiji government that modernised Japan after Japan's 265 years of isolation from the outside world during the Edo era.