ready for the rocket. japan's self-defense forces deploy in the country's south as top japanese and u.s. officials go over their plan to deal with north korea's upcoming launch. t-minus eight days until the window opens for north korea's rocket launch, and preparations are being made on a number of fronts. in a minute, we'll tell you how japan's self-defense forces are getting ready. but first, the latest on what japanese and u.s. officials are doing. defense minister tanaka and leon
panetta went over the details of their joint action plan. tanaka and pennate spoke tuesday over the phone. they agreed the launch violate u.n. security council resolutions that demand north korea halt its missile development. tanaka updated panetta on how his ministry is preparing. he's ordered self-defense forces to intercept any part of the missile that could fall on to japanese territory. panetta stressed the need to show the japan/u.s. alliance is strong. they also agreed the self-defense forces and the u.s. military will share information on the upcoming launch. >> translator: we will watch how the diplomatic efforts work. however, i told secretary panetta if north korea does go ahead with the launch, japan will take appropriate measures. the secretary said he understands our stance.
>> some details on the appropriate measures tanaka is referring to. self-defense force personnel are on the ground in the country's southern most pretectu urure okinawa. and they brought some heavy equipment with them. pac-3 interceptor missiles. the first teams arrived tuesday. 700 personnel will be deployed in all. the defense ministry says interceptor missile units will take up positions in seven locations around okinawa and in the tokyo metropolitan area. it also says the sdf will deploy three aegis-equipped detroiters in the east china sea and the sea of japan. north korean leaders say they are launching a satellite into space some time between april 12th and 16th. many countries believe they'll actually be testing a long-range ballistic missile. and even though the launch hasn't happened, japan's cabinet is already punishing north korea. it's extending sanctions against the country for another year before they expire on april
13th. the decision is also in response to the north's failure to reinvestigate the fate of japanese nationals its agents abducted in the 1970s and '80s. japan introduced the sanctions six years ago after pyongyang carried out missile and nuclear experiments. the deployment of self-defense forces in okinawa isn't just a short-term move aimed at dealing with north korea. japan's defense ministry wants to strengthen its capabilities in the area to deal with another neighbor. china's military build-up has prompted japanese leaders to rethink their defense strategy. they've drafted a plan to station about 100 coastal monitoring troops on the island of yonaguni. they also want to post several hundred troops on ishigaki or miyako, islands southwest of okinawa. but some okinawan residents strongly oppose the plan.
>> translator: i fear okinawa will become a battlefield again. >> translator: i don't want the self-defense forces using our port for military reasons. >> some people in okinawa still remember the battles that raged on their islands at the end of world war ii. tens of thousands of people died. the government will have to balance local concerns as it works out the details of this strategic redeployment. south korea has shown japanese destroyers at one of its ports to foreign media. the unusual move is seen as a way to show north korea that the south and japan are united against its planned rocket launch. two destroyers from japan's maritime self-defense force docked at pyeongtack base. it's part of japan's annual
training for cadets. there will be exchange events and joint train with south korean naval personnel during their stay through wednesday. the maritime self-defense force and south korean navy have had exchanges and combined training in the past. but this is the first time for south korea to allow foreign media coverage of visiting japanese naval vessels. the first batch of u.s. marines to be deployed in australia has arrived in the northern city of darwin. the u.s. is increasing its military footprint in the asia-pacific region in response to china's growing presence. u.s. president barack obama announced the deployment when he visited australia last november. the 200-member infantry landed on tuesday. a ceremony to mark their arrival will be held on wednesday. the united states plans to increase the size of the deployment to 2,500 personnel. the infantry has no heavy
equipment, but the country will also bring in artillery and armored vehicles over the next five or six years. the u.s. military also plans to make greater use of australian naval and air force bases to boost bilateral defense cooperation. well, stock investors are usually encouraged by monetary easing. that's because more financial products are traded. but central bankers in the united states have hinted that further easing may not be necessary for the country's economy to stabilize. ai uchida from the business team has more on what they have to say. >> the federal reserve meets every six weeks or so. they release their minutes a few weeks after that. well, this time it shows only a minority of u.s. -- the policymakers at the fed want extra credit easing, despite concerns over joblessness and the nation's economic outlook. now that is according to minutes of last month's meeting of the u.s. central bank. the federal reserve on tuesday
released the minutes of the march 13th policy meeting. the document says most members agreed that a moderate economic recovery will continue for the time being. but some caution that improvements in employment might diminish as the year progressed. the minutes also say only a couple of members flagged the need for possible additional stimulus. that's if the economy lost momentum or inflation stayed below the 2% target in the medium term. traders were disappointed. u.s. stocks closed lower after the minutes prompted caution among investors. the dow jones industrial average retreated from a closing high of four years, three months to 13,199. that is down 0.5% on the day. let's see how stocks are kicking off here in tokyo. for that we're going to go to ramin mellegard at the tokyo stock exchange. good morning to you. how are stocks here reacting? >> very good morning, ai. indeed, u.s. stocks there, as you mentioned, fell after the
federal reserve minutes, and they really offered no further signals for any stimulus for the u.s. economy. so the markets took that as a bit of a negative. also added to that, some continuing debt concerns in eurozone economies. also pushed lower the overall global stock sentiment. let's have a look at how the nikkei and topix are trading here this wednesday morning. a bit of a mixed picture. actually just a couple of seconds ago, the nikkei was just trading a little bit lower. you can see just a little bit lower on the topix trading just marginally higher. so a bit of a mixed open here in the first few minutes of trading. the nikkei actually fell yesterday, largely on the stronger yen. and that's been a bit of a factor, and also added to that, concerns over growth in china as well as the eurozone. so along with the fed minutes, those concerns also pushed the
s&p 500, the nasdaq and the dow a little bit lower, as well as energy and commodity related stocks. we're going to keep track of those sectors and individual stocks throughout the trading session today. ai? >> you mention yesterday's stronger yen. what about currency -- what kind of action are you seeing this morning? >> yeah, definitely. obviously, we've seen the yen strengthen a little bit since the quarterly tankan business sentiment survey on monday. however, following the fed minutes, we've seen a little bit of a reversal, and a continuation if you will, of the yen weakening trend. and if you look there now, we're kind of at the upper 82 yen levels. 82.83 to 85. if you look at the euro/yen also, that's now trading around the mid109 levels. it was trading around the lower 109 yen levels just yesterday. so you can see there the yen actually continuing to weaken. so we're going to continue to
track that. but, really, the market's likely to focus on the upcoming jobs data on friday. that's going to be a real market mover, and that will give further guidance to any further signals for any progress on the u.s. economy. obviously, data that we've had in the last few weeks have been pretty positive, and that should bode well for japanese exporters. and if the yen continues to weaken, that will be an added boost. so a bit of a mixed picture with the nikkei and top nix the first few minutes of trading. back to you. >> thanks, ramin. now as you said ra, mean, the now back in positive territory. ramin mellegard from the tokyo stock exchange. u.s. new car sales jumped in march for the tenth straight month, despite a 20% hike in gas prices since the beginning of this year. u.s. market research firm auto data says carmakers sold more than 1.4 million new vehicles
last month. that's up about 13% from a year earlier. among japanese automakers, toyota sales jumped more than 15%. nissan's also rose over 12%. but honda sales fell 5%. reversing a huge increase we saw just one year ago. leading u.s. automaker general motors recorded a gain of 12%. ford is up 5%. chrisler surged 34%. south korea's hyundai sales climbed more than 12%. and here's a look at the latest market figures.
>> that's the latest in business. back to catherine now. >> thanks very much, ai. prime minister yoshihiko noda has instructed a minister to draw up new standards for nuclear safety. the standards are a precondition for restarting two reactors at a nuclear plant on the japan sea coast. the nucle safety commission is conducting stress tests on japan's nuclear power plants. last month, it favorably assessed the first round of stress tests on the reactors at the ohi nuclear plant. noda and three ministers discussed the commission's assessment. the ministers were briefed by the nuclear and industrial safety agency on the findings of its investigation into the nuclear crisis at the fukushima daiichi plant. some other ministers said the proposed safety standards are
not clearly defined. noda instructed industry minister edano to come up with new standards for nuclear safety. >> translator: even if we can confirm the safety of the plant, it will take some time to obtain residents' approval for restarting it. >> noda and the three minister tors meet again later this week to discuss the necessary safety measures. people in japan's northeast are focused on overcoming the challenges of the 2011 disaster. but it won't be easy. they have to rebuild homes, businesses, entire communities. we'll show you their struggles and their successes on "the road ahead" every wednesday at 1:00 p.m. japan time here on newsline. the united states says maybe the time has come. a state department official has indicated that the u.s. is planning to lift its sanctions against myanmar after sunday's
by-elections. pro democracy leader aung san suu kyi won a seat in myanmar's parliament. her national league for democracy party says it won most of the seats it contested. >> we are prepared to match positive steps of reform in burma with steps of our own. >> but she did not give any details. the u.s. government has imposed economic and other sanctions, including a ban on investment in myanmar and an import ban on the country's products. the lifting of economic sanctions won't happen until the u.s. congress gives its approval. some people say the u.s. may first lift a ban on issuing visas to myanmar's senior government officials, and it may also appoint a new ambassador to the country. asean leaders also called the results a big step toward democracy. lifting economic sanctions was on their summit agenda in cambodia.
the move would help them integrate asean economies more effectively. nhk world's tarazawa reports from phnom phen. >> reporter: past asean summits have seen myanmar the focus of unwanted attention about its human rights record. but today, the submit in the capital of phnom phen was different. they received a warm welcome after sunday's history by-election. asean leaders praised the vote won by pro-democracy leader aung san suu kyi. the development could boost asean's project to create an economic community by 2015. cambodian prime minister chaired the summit. he apparently believes removing sanctions from the asean economic area would be an important step forward.
>> reporter: asean leaders are believed to call on europe and the united states to lift sanctions against myanmar. they said the move would further promote democratic reform in the country. >> one thing that we are very much interested in now is to ensure sanctions against myanmar be immediately lifted. it is extremely important as a symbol of democratic unity of a country that has begun the process of change, and this process of change must be acknowledged. >> reporter: myanmar has natural resources and -- for labor. but its economy has been closed from much of the world. lifting economic sanctions would
benefit not only myanmar but the asean economic area. in the politics of southern asia, it seems that for every silver lining, there's a cloud. when u.s. forces killed osama bin laden last year, for example, one consequence was a further strain in u.s./pakistan relations. the raid into its territory inflamed pakistan's resentment. pakistan has now moved away from the u.s. and closer to china. and one effect of this is being felt by uighur people living in pakistan. the xinjian uighur autonomous region lies in the western region of china. many have migrated over to pakistan. ethnic tensions sometimes escalate into violence. but even across the border in
pakistan, the uighurs no longer feel secure. many of them believe that pakistan's closer ties with china have led to them being harassed there as well. nhk world's hideki uwi reports from islamabad. >> reporter: china and pakistan conducted joint military drills in pakistan. one exercise involved attacking a supposed terrorist organization hiding in the mountains. >> reporter: their target is an extremist organization called etim, which is fighting for uighur independence from china. >> those elements of etim who are operating in the border
areas of southern afghanistan. >> reporter: many of pakistan's uighurs live in a community outside the capital islamabad. umar runs a jewelry shop. he thinks chinese authorities are watching them with the pakistani gornment. four years ago, he set up an ngo to teach children uighur culture and language. but after they began speaking to the media about the differences between uighur and chinese culture, they started receiving threats. >> translator: i received death threats. they said i'm damaging the friendship between pakistan and china. a group of men came to our homes at night and demanded we stopped giving the classes. >> reporter: last year, six members of the ngo were denied permission to board a plane at
islamabad airport. they were told they were on the government black list and could not leave pakistan. >> translator: our activities are legal. we should be removed from the black list stopping us from traveling infringes our rights. >> translator: the pakistani government says our activities are legal, but demands us to stop because the chinese government opposes our cause. >> reporter: khan launched a legal appeal but it was rejected in february. the court said state security authorities concluded they were involved in anti-state activities and likely to flee to the united states in near future. nhk asked the pakistan's interior ministry about the ruling, but the ministry declined to comment. >> translator: it's a great disappointment. we have nothing to do with china
or terrorist organizations. we just want to protect uighur culture and language. >> reporter: few people would deny that it's good when countries get along with their neighbors. but for the uighurs of pakistan, friendship with china is one reason for caution. hideki yui, nhk world, islamabad. all right. well, earlier, hideki yui gave us some insights on pakistan/china relation. >> the military has been strengthening ties with china as a source for weapons. in fact, china has become pakistan's number one supplier in recent years. the two countries' growing ties goend the energy sector. china is expected to build new nuclear power plants in pakistan. last year, a pakistani cabinet
member made remarks suggesting the country's -- to china. he said china's enemy is pakistan's enemy. uighurs in pakistan view this with a sense of unease. after the september 11th attacks in the united states, pakistan drew huge military and financial support from the u.s. in its fight against terrorism. but relations deteriorating and it can't expect further u.s. help. this is one reason why china is increasingly important to pakistan. unless it improves ties with the u.s., pakistan's dependence on china looks set to grow. >> nhk world's hideki yui from islamabad. heavy rain and strong winds hit japan yesterday. i was caught up in it. gleets to sayaka mori for the world weather forecast. >> good morning, catherine. sunny weather is coming back. but, yes it was very windy and very wet here in tokyo.
to give you an idea how the conditions were, i want to show you some video. this video is from kushiro in hokkaido. you can see a flooded road here. gale force winds and heavy rain have also impacted this area. this is from niigata. blustery winds toppled trees. you can see firefighters there clearing the debris. sustained winds of 115 kilometers per hour were reported. the fastest wind ever recorded. in niigata, at least 16 people were reportedly injured with dozens of other injuries across the country. now let's go back to the weather map. this is the low pressure system which we've been talking about. it's now moving across hokkaido, the center of the low is moving across this area. but as you can see, the isobars are still close together, meaning that fierce winds are still impacting much of the northern half of japan. and in addition to that,
precipitation is huge. and, in fact, cold air is starting to blow into japan. so rain is starting to -- rain is changing over to snow in some areas. so that could, of course, lead to dangerous driving conditions, as well as low visibility. the stormy conditions here will likely continue into tonight. but again, the southern half of japan, including tokyo, will see sunny skies. as for the korean peninsula, mostly dry, but showers are starting to develop across the northern portions of the peninsula. as for china, wet conditions are still continuing in the southern half of the country and rain could become intense as we head into thursday in some locations. and down towards the indochina peninsula, scattered thunderstorms again. as for the highs, getting up to 35 degrees in bangkok with gusty winds. 26 degrees in hong kong. and to the north, 12 degrees in seoul. tokyo looking at seasonal 15
degrees. now moving over to the americas, a couple of low pressure systems are still bringing heavy thundershowers to much of the eastern half of the u.s. severe weather in the lower great lakes region and parts of the south will continue overnight. in fact, several tornadoes were reported in texas on tuesday. as you can see, showers in the lower great lakes region will get clearer in the next 24 hours. however, the risk of severe weather will continue in the lower mississippi valley into wednesday. we are talking about severe thunderstorms. large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes are not out of the question. because the system has been moving very slowly, there is a potential for flooding here. and out towards the west, there is a potential, i should say, a very powerful low pressure system moving further inland over the western sections of the u.s. and canada. snow in the northern rockies could intensify over the next 24
our lead story this hour -- japan's defense minister naoki tanaka and u.s. defense secretary leon panetta have reaffirmed their countries will work closely together to respond to north korea's rocket launch. tanaka and panetta spoke tuesday over the phone. they agreed the launch violates u.n. security council resolutions that demand north korea halt its missile development. tanaka updated panetta on how his ministry is preparing. he's ordered self-defense forces to intercept any part of the missile that could fall on to japanese territory. panetta stressed the need to show the japan/u.s. alliance is strong. they also agreed the self-defense forces and the u.s. military will share information on the upcoming launch. and that wraps up this edition of "newsline." i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. do stay with us.