♪ hello there and welcome to "newsline." it's thursday january 22nd. i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. japanese government leaders on a race against time. they are using all resources available to try to have two nationals believed to be captured by islamic state released. and they're promising the militant group that millions of military aid promised to the middle east is solely for humanitarian purposes. >> translator: we will use the trust and all the channels cultivated in the middle east. we will try every means available. >> the video released shows two men who are believed to be freelance journalists.
kenji goto and harunai yakua. a purported islamic state member threatens to kill them unless the japanese government pays a ransom of $200 million within 72 hours. officials in tokyo assume the deadline is around 2:50 p.m. japan time on friday. state minister for foreign affairs yasuhide nakayama is taking charge of a task force based at the japanese embassy in jordan. he met on wednesday with king abdullah. the king gave assurances of his readiness to cooperate fully. japan's foreign minister has also asked britain to assist with their efforts to bring the two men home. fumio kishida made the request in london with long with his counterpart. he said the government has condemned the hostage take sxeg also called the recent attacks in france unforgivable. >> translator: i hope japan and britain will cooperate to fight against terrorism.
>> hammond said his country has experienced having its citizens taken hostage and killed by islamic state militants. he said his government is offered to pull together resources to help japan. kishida made a similar request earlier in the day over the telephone to italian foreign minister paolo gentiloni. he expressed his country's readiness to fully cooperate. an islamic state spokesperson is pressing the japanese government to meet their demand before the deadline. nhk exchanged online messages with a representative on wednesday. the man said he's aware that state minister for foreign affairs yas hooed yay nakayama was sent to jordan. analysts say it suggests the group is closely watching the operation. 9 man wouldn't say if they've been in contact with the japanese government. but he said islamic state will achieve what it wants to do. he reiterated that the militant group is not motivated by money
alone. the wife of one of the two men being held has been contacted. a source told nhk that people affiliated with the militant group have sent her several emails. the wife of kenji goto has been receiving messages since november. the source says the first message only said islamic state had captured the japanese journalist, with no mention of a threat to kill him. and militants revealed information only known to goto and his family. she received a ransom note earlier this month demanding more than $17 million. sources say the messages resemble e males sent by the group in other hostage takings. goto lef japan with plans to enter syria. he went missing about three days later. kenjigoto has reported many
stories. he's filed stories about children caught up in many conflicts. goto visits this junior high school in tokyo every year to talk about his work. he's inspired many students. goto has published five books, including one that's set in afghanistan. he spent a year following the story of a 10-year-old girl who was deprived of education through poverty and war. goto wrote in his books he believes that children are the only hopes for afghanistan's future. and he said the international community should do whatever it can to help them. goto has also been involved with the japan committee for unicef. he sent this photo three years ago from a refugee camp in jordan.
he wrote in an attached message "these children too deserve christmas presents." >> translator: goto's priority was displaced children. he believed very strongly in this issue. >> the unicef official says he's also praying for goto's safe return. we spoke with freelance journalist eiko tamamoto. she reports on islamic state from syria and iraq. she now is in erbil, northern iraq. >> translator: local media in northern iraq haven't given this incident wide coverage but people, mostly the young know about it through the internet. many ordinary iraqis were shocked that islamic state took two japanese hostages. they're expressing concern and hope for their release.
i have no information on how goto entered the area controlled by islamic state militants. knockout they took part in a fierce battle with kurdish forces around syria's border. so goto may have entered the area amid the confusion that followed. i know that goto was always trying to report news from the perspective of children, ordinary people and those in a difficult situation. and i can say that he is not the enemy of the islamic state. he is no one's enemy. i'm really worried. commanders of islamic state may have gotten the idea that japan is part of the crusade, subordinate to western countries. i believe ordinary people done share this view at this point. i'm afraid that the commander's view of japan might spread. but there is another thing.
refugees who fled from islamic state told me that ordinary people are forced to live in difficult conditions. they also said that sometimes the militants fight among themselves. people including soldiers under islamic state are becoming more impoverished. so i think the militants are demanding the ransom partially because of money, because of their difficult economic situation. ukraine's president has suggested russian leaders are threatening a cease-fire agreement in eastern ukraine. petro poroshenko said moscow has send hundreds of troops and tanks into the region. poroshenko is speaking at the world economic forum. >> we have more than 9,000 troops of russian fedration on my territory, including more than 500 tanks and heavy
artillery and armed personnel carrier. if this is not an aggression what is the aggression? >> in moscow russia's foreign minister disputed poroshenko's claims. >> concerning the flow of troops and weapons, we've heard this many times. i always say, but if you are saying things with such certainty then show us the facts. either no one is able to provide us with the facts or does not want to provide them. i don't know. >> last september ukrainian and russian officials agreed to halt the fighting. but violence has intensified this month between government forces and pro-russian separatists. a fierce battle has been raging near the airport in donetsk. two weeks after a series of deadly terror attacks french
officials are taking action they have announced sweeping new counterterrorism measures at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. >> translator: the first urgency, the first requirement is to further reinforce the human and technical means of our intelligence service. >> he says $490 million will be spent on new communication equipment and providing police with better weapons and protection. the government hopes to contain the spread of radical ideology that could lead to terrorism. so it's going to boost monitoring of the exchange of radical ideas over the internet. in addition, more than 2,600 counterterrorism officers will be hired over the next three years. israeli police say a palestinian man has gone on a rampage on a crowded bus in tel aviv, stabbing at least nine people. police are calling it a terrorist attack. police say the attack occurred during wednesday morning rush hour. the man pulled out a knife and
attacked the driver and passengers. several of the victims suffered serious wounds to the neck and chest. the 23-year-old assailant was shot in the leg while trying to escape. he is now in police custody. police say he is from the west bank and that they've launched an investigation. there has been an increase in the number of attacks on israelis in recent months. four people were killed in an attack on a synagogue in jerusalem while a soldier was stabbed to death by a palestinian man in front of a tel aviv railway station. japanese leaders want to spark the economy. they're hoping robots can help. ai uchida joins us now from the business desk. tell us what do government officials have in mind ai? >> well catherine, people know they have a demographics problem on their hands. a low birth rate, for example, and aging society. but still, things need to get done. someone still has to make clothes, for example build cars, maintain infrastructure.
so government officials are thinking robots. drones and industrial automation could soon do some of the work people do. the government will look into using drones to survey the condition of the country's roads and bridges. that's something humans do now. to fully automate factory production lines the government will team up with japanese businesses and universities to set international standards for technology. they want to catch up with germany and the u.s. the current leaders in this technology. a public-private partnership is planning to invest about $850 million million'll into robot-related projects in the next five years. it aims to expand the robot market fourfold to $20 billion. last year fewer new condominiums went on the market in the greater tokyo area than in the previous year. experts say the decline is the result of the consumption tax hike last april. the real estate economic
institute says about 44,900 new condo units went on the market in 2014. that's in tokyo and in three neighboring prefectures. and that's down 20 1/2% from 2013. still, in december the number of new condo units for sale in the area increased year on year for the first time in 11 months. the institute says more than 9,3 hub units went on the market in the area last month. that's an inskraes of more than 13% from a year ago. researchers say high-rise condos in the tokyo bay area and suburban units accounted for most of that growth. despite the december numbers, experts forecast that rising construction costs will put a damper on growth. they say the total number of units hitting the market in 2015 will be about the same as last year. u.s. president barack
obama has called on congress to pass legislation to finalize the transpacific free trade deal. he made the appeal in his state of the union address.
>> china wants to write the rules for the world's
fastest growing region. that would put our workers and our businesses at a disadvantage. why would we let that happen? we should write those rules. we should level the playing field. that's why i'm asking both parties to give me trade promotion authorities to protect american yoerkz with strong new trade deals to europe that aren't just free but also fair. >> u.s. trade representative michael froman spoke in washington the day after obamas speech. >> we look to congress to pass bipartisan trade promotion authority. it makes clear to our trading partners that the administration and congress are on the same page in negotiating high standards in our trade agreements. >> froman said that the conclusion of the deal is now in sight. he said that other participating countries must be able to trust the u.s. experts have said that other
participants including japan will not finalize the deal until the u.s. government has stronger negotiating authority. now let's take a look at what's happening on markets. stock investors on wall street pushed up benchmark indices for a third straight day. they reacted to media reports that policy makers at the u.n. central bank will release a new stimulus package earlier today. and investors in tokyo followed the positive trend at the open at least. the nikkei had gone up just about a tenth of a percent in initial trading. it has now dipped into the negative, down just about a quarter percent. analysts say the focus for market players is shifting to details of the ecb's expected bond buying program. currency traders are jitery ahead of the key policy decision and that's contributing to some volatility. the euro briefly touched a one-week high against the dollar overnight. the single currency is right around 1.16 to the dollar. meanwhile, we are again seeing
the dollar making a comeback against the yen. right now it is just below 1.18 but earlier above it. the bank of japan's policy announcement yesterday lacked a new stimulus. looking at some other markets in the asia pacific region, south korea's kospi up by a third percent. in australia the benchmark index is trading higher as well, up more than half a percent. a bit of a mixed picture in these parts of the world next thursday. we'll see where trading takes us next hour. i'll be back then. for now i'll leave you with a check of markets. ♪ ♪
singapore yaennans looking for safe places to invest their savings often choose real estate. domestic property prices have risen so much that some investors are looking abroad and tokyo these days feels leek a bargain. nhk world's takumai shioka has more. >> reporter: in southeast asia's biggest financial center investors see an exciting investment opportunity overseas. because of drastic depreciation of japanese yen many singaporeians are now focusing on properties in tokyo. a seminar on investing in japanese condominiums took place
last month. condos in central toke yeh were on sale located close to the famous ginza shopping area. saths agents said the properties could generate high returns. the audience included a public school teacher and an i.t. firm employee. the majority were couples were two incomes and ample savings. many of them bought properties after the plan. all 30 condos sold within three months. >> the property prices are affordable compared to singapore. >> now japanese yen currency is quite low. converting dollar to japanese yen is a lot of benefit.
money has been flowing into singaporean property in recent years, sending prices sky high. real estate in japan is cheap by comparison. a two-bedroom apartment in a tokyo condominium was priced at about $570,000. a similar place in singapore would cost 50% more. >> translator: an increasing number of foreign investors regard japanese real estate as relatively cheap. most of them are investing in japanese properties right now before it is too late. >> professional investment advisers like those at this multinational accounting firm are also watching tokyo as it prepares to host the olympic games in 2020. the firm picked japan's capital as the number one asia pacific property investment this year.
>> confidence in general that prospects in japan will remain good. it should be said that sentiment in japan is pretty strong. >> reporter: from tourists to investors the weaker yen is making more people overseas bet that tokyo is the place to be. takuma yoshioka nhk world, singapore. ♪ people in a city north of tokyo last month were casting their eyes to the skies to see a strange spectacle.
>> reporter: a highly unusual object suddenly appears above a residential of itonomiya. a gigantic head floating above the rooftops. this apparition was actually an enormous balloon about 50 meters high. it was a special artwork, organized last month by a public museum to surprise and entertain the local people. the balloon was created by a team of three artists. it was inspired by a dream one of the members of the team had as a child. >> translator: we came from many different places but none of us ever came across like this in our daily lives. we wanted to change that. >> reporter: it took a massive
amount of helium to fill the balloon. among those who gathered to watch, one person in particular was the center of attention. keichi yuzawa is the man whose face was used as the inspiration for the balloon. >> translator: i don't know what to think. i'm not sure my face is really appropriate for this. it's weird. >> reporter: once they'd come up with the idea, the artist needed a model. they took photos of over 200 people. they were looking for a face that was closest to people's image of a friendly old man. yuzawa was the one they picked. the artist set to work. and finally the balloon began to rise into the air. eventually it reached its target
altitude, 50 meters above the ground. it stopped people in their tracks and brought them out of their houses to gaze. as night fell the balloon was illuminated from inside. in the darkness, the apparition appeared even more surreal. >> translator: it is the sort of art that everyone finds interesting and amazing. i want to make more works that inspire that kind of reaction. >> reporter: the aim of art is to inspire wonder and awe. whether it is in a museum or looking down on people from way up in the sky. it is time now to bring in a check of the weather.
it's the rainy season in bolivia and people there are dealing with severe floods. mai shoji joins us with the details. >> some parts of the world are dealing with the rainy season right now. full on across bolivia as we speak. take a look at an image coming out from there. severe flooding going on. in central bolivia amidst the peak of the country's rainy season at least 15 people have died. and thousands of hectares of crops have been lost after weeks of heavy rains. in the hardest hit areas residents are forced to wait through these flood waters. firefighters have also been evacuating children and elderlies using small boats. just last year in 2014 deadly floods hit the same area killing at least 60 people. these areas are used to the rainy season and the very heavy rains, but too much is causing the situation. and i'm afraid to tell you that the situation's not going to ease. there's no improvement because the rain will be continuing again starting thursday afternoon hours across aruro, where the video came out from.
and more rain in the northern locations here as well. already about 300 millimeters of rain has been falling in the past seven days. so any additional rainfall could trigger further flooding. now, across here in north america we have snow to talk about. and that's going to be piling up as much as 40 centimeters across the four corners region. and that's desending into northwestern texas. so even texas in the higher elevations will see 20 centimeters of heavy snowfall. and that's going to be combined with gufths reaching 60 kilometers per hour. blowing snow conditions will certainly reduce the visibility. very dangerous for driving. you can see very heavy rainfall in and around houston as well. also, snow will be piling up in the new england states across new york and d.c. we're going to be seeing about four centimeters of snow pileup which is likely to disturb traffic. out toward the west though, los angeles and some areas in california are reaching
summer-like temperatures at 25 in los angeles with plenty of sunshine. toward pacific northwest we're likely to see coastal heavy rainfall and some snow up there. about 15 centimeters. up here in europe now very messy again in the mez. we're likely to see thunderstorms that are going to be spawned in western balkan again with a potential of very strong gusts, large hail about the size of four centimeters is likely and tornadic activity are not likely to be ruled out. in fact, this has a history of spawning water spouts in and around greece because the precipitation and thunderstorms are all in store for us there too. the snow is also going to be falling across 15 centimeters of additional snowfall could lead to avalanche. london you saw a little bit of that snow and sleet yesterday. we may see some icy road conditions because your morning lows will be falling down to about freezing point. just 4 for your high. out here across japan the winter pressure pattern is more south. but it's more toward the south
we're worried about with the heavy rainfall. this has already produced 60 millimeters of rainfall in 24 hours. 70 kilometers per hour, winds have been reported around kochi prefecture. we have more inland snowfall across the backbone mountains of japan. just 6 degrees for the high with freezing rain. not a great day to be venturing outdoors here in tokyo on our thursday. i'll leave you now for our extended forecast. ♪