If you are happen to be in Japan during the last weekend of August, be sure to watch 24 Hour Television on NTV. 24 Hour Television – Love Saves the Earth, is an annual charity program that raises funds for various organizations across Japan.

24 Hour Television got is start back in the late 1970s after some staff members from a popular late-night variety show saw The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon broadcast from Las Vegas. They wanted to try the same type of show in Japan, so in 1978 the first 24 Hour Television telethon was aired as a special event as part of NTV’s 25th anniversary and has run every year since.  The telethon runs from 8pm on the last Saturday of August until the following day at 8pm. Each year has a different theme, this year’s was “Love”.

While the theme always changes, there are common features that happen every year including:

  • a t-shirt made by a famous designer
  • a 100km marathon run by a celebrity (ending at the Budokan where the event is held)
  • a theme-related giant mosaic
  • a celebrities throwing a dart at a map of Japan and visiting that town to ask people’s thoughts regarding the theme word
  • a few personal challenges undertaken by people with disabilities (this year featured a dance performance by students working together from two schools – one for the visually impaired, one for the hearing impaired)
  • a documentary
  • a drama related to the theme (this year’s drama was about a blind school teacher)
  • ending theme song sung by the participants and celebrities

Donations are gathered at locations all across Japan including nearly every convenience store and super market, as well as online. Money raised by 24 Hour Television doesn’t just go to one charity, but is distributed to various causes across the country – the most visible being the donation of accessible vehicles to NPOs etc.

While it is generally a popular and well received program, the topic of “inspiration porn” was brought up on NHK’s Barrier-free Variety TV show.  The show is run by people with disabilities and they took the time to discuss different aspects of the show, including the possibility of people watching and feeling happy that they are not like that or calling someone “inspirational” solely based on the fact that they have a disability.

While there may be some validity to that point, 24 Hour Television has helped countless people through donations and by raising awareness over the years.  It runs every year, so if you are in Japan, don’t miss it next year!


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