♪ ♪ -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com ♪ hello there and welcome to "newsline." it's tuesday, march 17th. i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. two of japan's nuclear power plant operators will meet on tuesday to decide the fate of their aging reactors. they're expected to announce that three will be scrapped. if their plan is approved it would be the first reactors with the exception of fukushima daiichi to be dismantled since the 2011 nuclear disaster. the directors of kansai electric power company will accept to decommission two of their reactors at the mihama nuclear
power plant in fuguekui prefecture. japan atomic power company will pull the plug or tsuruga nuclear power plant in the same prefecture. after the accident at fukushima daiichi four years ago the government limited nuclear reactors to a 40-year life-span unless they meet tougher safety standards. officials at the ministry of economy, trade and industry have been urging operators to decide what to do with reactors that have already passed that age. the reactors have a relatively small output and the power company executives have suggested they can't justify the expense of upgrading to meet the new safety requirements. two other utilities, chugoku electric power company and kyushu electric power company, plan to decide on wednesday to scrap two of their dated reactors. currently all of japan's commercial nuclear reactors remain offline. officials in vanuatu are
counting the cost of a powerful cyclone that hit last week. cyclone pam tore through the south pacific islands on friday and saturday. u.n. officials say 24 people were confirmed killed and 3,300 have been displaced. emergency officials say they sent a helicopter to one of the worst-hit islands to assess the damage. they say about 80% of the buildings have collapsed. >> it washed away everything. and all my iron. everything is gone. >> oh, very frightening. you just don't know whether you'll face another day. >> rescue workers are being hampered by floods. many areas are still cut off by fallen branches and damaged roads. the governments of australia and new zealand have sent military personnel to help with the relief work. they are flying in water and medicine. the japanese government is sending a team to assess what specific aid is needed.
>> translator: the extent of the damage is not clear. so we will go there and talk to local people to see what japan can do to help. >> japan decided on sunday to provide emergency aid supplies, worth about $170,000, including sleeping bags and waterproof sheets. people in crimea are marking one year since they overwhelmingly voted in favor of joining russia, and the region's de facto leader is using the occasion to defend the annexation. crimean leader sergei aksyonov attended a large gathering in the city of simferopol to mark the anniversary. >> translator: people of crimea showed their determination to the world that they can choose their own destiny. >> russian president vladimir
putin admitted in an interview he began planning to annex crimea before the referendum took place. he had previously said he ordered the annexation only after the outcome of the vote was clear. but in a documentary aired on sunday putin said he had decided to take crimea shortly after the ouster of ukrainian president viktor yanukovych in february last year. he also said he dispatched troops to disarm ukrainian bases in crimea. leaders in ukraine and also in western nations have condemned russia's actions. they say the annexation contravenes international law. people in japan are preparing to commemorate the most deadly attack in the country since world war ii. on march 20th, 1995 members of a cult called aum shinrikyo released sarin gas at several locations on the subway system in central tokyo. the nerve gas killed 13 people and affected about 6,300 others.
20 years later, many survivors are struggling to resume a normal life. nhk world's ayumi chikarashi reports on the fate of one victim and her family. >> reporter: on the morning of the attack, sachiko asakawa was traveling on the tokyo subway's marinochi line. she suffered a serious brain disorder and is now completely paralyzed. she was 31 years old at the time. her nephew was preparing to enter elementary school. >> translator: she took great care of me when i was little. we could have done so many things together if this hadn't happened. >> reporter: sachiko's symptoms are worsening. her brother is taking care of her at home. he believes the repercussions of the attack are far from over.
>> translator: these events will come to an end once the trials are over, but that won't change anything in our lives. at least until my sister and i are dead. it sounds a bit strange to say, but in a way it won't be over until we die. >> reporter: many survivors and relatives of the victims feel the same way. according to an nhk survey, more than 90% say the incident is not over. they're also asking the government to do more to support them. ayumi chikaraishi, nhk world, tokyo. workers across japan are keen to share in the rewards of a bumper year for some of the top automakers. they're hoping to see more money in their pay package when the new financial year gets under way. ai uchida joins us now with all the latest. you've been following the wage negotiations. get us up to speed.
>> exactly. and we have learned that union leaders at toyota have won a monthly base pay raise of $33, and that is a record for the firm. now, people representing staff at nissan are hoping to do even better. they're allowed to sit down with executives for the final round of annual wage talks, and they're aiming for a base pay hike that may far exceed the amount the sides agreed on last year. sources say nissan executives are considering a base pay raise of more than $40 a month on average. that would be a big jump from last year when they agreed to bump up base pay by a little less than $30. they're also looking at boosting bonuses to the equivalent of nearly six months' pay. executives at fuji heavy industries are also in final wage talks. they're likely to agree to a monthly pay -- base pay hike of at least $25 on average. they're also looking to accept a demand by union leaders to give bonuses equivalent to six months' pay.
now let's check in on the markets. on wall street receding concerns about a rate hike pushed up stocks. both the dow jones industrial average and the tech-heavy nasdaq rose just about 1.2%. the dow jones finishing just shy of 18,000. now let's see how markets here are reacting. we head to ramin mellegard, who's at the tokyo stock exchange. good morning ramin. how are markets looking? >> very good morning to you, ai. if you remember, we saw a little bit of profit-taking on monday after the strong gains last week which pushed the nikkei into the negative. however, with that rally on wall street we're definitely seeing a reversal there or a rebound. so let's have a look for tuesday, march 17th. the nikkei and the topix well into the positive. 19,415 now for the nikkei. and the weaker dollar is really prompting fears the federal reserve may not be so quick to raise rates despite the recent strong jobs report. investors also may take note of the slightly weaker than expected data for the u.s. economy on monday with a decline
in business conditions for the new york region and also industrial production just showing a moderate rise. now, the federal reserve is due to make a statement tomorrow. that's going to be the big focus for the week. ai. >> and ramin, one of the major market factors we should be watching out for here in japan? >> well a lot of factors. we've been talking about wage increases, of course. and as we've already covered, toyota has already taken steps for a pay hike and nissan may follow suit as well as you've been covering there, ai. and the bank of japan wraps up its two-day policy meeting later today. few really expecting any major moves, however, analysts may be on the lookout for any statements from officials. also want to keep a close eye on companies such as hitachi and mitsubishi heavy. after their restructuring and cost-cutting measures in the last few years they're now really trying to increase their return on equity which analysts say in japan tend to be lower
than a lot of their u.s. peers. so that's a lot of focus for investors. >> and ramin, you've mentioned the bank of japan. you've mentioned the fed. so with all this focus on central bank meetings how are major pairs and currencies trading? >> that's of course a big focus. the dollar-yen in particular. top of the screen. 121.40-45. and the euro also a big focus. regained some ground from the 12-year lows against the dollar after the u.s. currency weak end ahead of the fed meeting. now, against the yen the dollar is keeping in a tight range. we'll keep a check on that. but also need to check the effect of further fallen crude oil prices following last week's steep declines. the fall weighed on energy-related sectors and commodity-heavy indexes across asia. now, oil futures were little changed yesterday but fell 2.1% on monday to the lowest since march 2009. and that was on news that crude inventories rose to a record amount in the u.s. now, other metals for instance gold copper and iron ore
prices remaining under pressure. adding to some of the negative sentiment across asian markets. so we'll see how that affects some of the key indexes there. i'll have another update in a few hours. that's all for me. back to you. >> all right, ramin. talk to you then. thanks for that update. staff at the japanese appliance manufacturer panasonic are building a business on asia's so-called final economic frontier. they're trying to at that point market in myanmar. and they've been seeing growing sales. now they're winning more customers by illuminating people's lives. >> reporter: yangon is myanmar's largest city, and it's enjoying a construction boom. a japanese company is building this upscale condominium. the local head of panasonic, hisakusa mayeda is visiting the site for a business negotiation. the condominium will be rented out to foreign business people. apartments will be furnished with refrigerators, tvs, and other home appliances.
ma mayeda hopes his company will win the contract to supply those appliances. the negotiation was a success. the japanese firm will fit out all 175 apartments. >> translator: the construction boom will continue. so we're trying to get in at an early stage. we want to win orders for packages of home appliances. >> reporter: that strategy has helped panasonic become the largest supplier of fridges and washing machines in myanmar. its business has been so far so good. but chinese and south korean rivals are snapping at the company's heels. they have waged a price war in yangon and other major cities. maeda knows he cannot rest on
his laurels. so the company is looking to the countryside, where home electric appliances are still rare. this village is about a three-hour drive from yangon. the power grid hasn't reached here yet. more than 2/3 of myanmar's 50 million people are living in places like this village. darkness falls after sunset. candles wink on. panasonic has developed solar lanterns for villages without electricity. the battery for the lantern is recharged with a solar panel. they provide light for up to 90 hours. 10-year-old sun yin ohn lives in the village. he goes to school during the day. once home he helps out by drawing water from a well and
watering his family's fields. at night he studies. that's where the solar lantern comes in. it allows him to study after the sun goes down. >> translator: before the lantern arrived i worked with candlelight. but is it wasn't good. now i can study longer. >> reporter: panasonic began promoting the lanterns two years ago. the devices provided free or sold to volunteer groups. about 100 are in use in this village alone. >> translator: i am confident that users of the lanterns will buy our appliances once they can afford them. >> reporter: panasonic is hoping to take advantage of myanmar's
economic growth to expand their business. its challenge has just begun. >> and that's the latest in business for this hour. i'll leave you with a check on markets. ♪ prime minister shinzo abe has called for immediate reform of the u.n. security council and he says it's time japan became a permanent member. abe was speaking at a ceremony in tokyo to mark the 70th anniversary of the united nations. he said that since the end of world war ii japan has worked hard to build a free and democratic nation that defends
human rights and honors the rule of law based on deep remorse over the war. he stressed that the country has been striving to contribute to the peace, development and prosperity of the asia pacific region and the rest of the world. abe said the time for discussing security council reform is over and he wants to see real change. >> translator: japan is prepared to assume the role of a permanent member of the u.n. security council by taking quiet pride in the achievements it has accumulated. >> abe said japan is determined to take a lead in discussions on any issue inside and outside of the u.n. officials at japan's foreign ministry say a recently discovered map casts doubt on beijing's claim to the senkaku islands. the officials say it was published years before china said the islands were its territory. they say that proves beijing recognize they were part of
japan. china's state bureau of surveying and mapping published the map in 1969. it uses the japanese name for the islands the senkaku group, not the chinese term. and the map uses the japanese name for one of the islands. japan controls the islands in the east china sea. china and taiwan claim them. the japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of japan's territory in terms of history and international law. it says there's no issue of sovereignty to be resolved over them. surveys found the area could be rich in oil and other natural resources. chinese leaders began claiming the islands in the 1970s. officials have uploaded the map to the foreign ministry website to support japan's position. they say they want to show the international community that japan's claim is legitimate. prime minister abe says he expects an upcoming meeting of foreign ministers from japan, china, and south korea to help improve tokyo's relations with the two neighboring countries.
the three are to meet in south korea this month. the talks would be the first by the foreign ministers in three years. abe said he and chinese president xi jinping last november confirmed what they call a principle of mutually beneficial strategic ties between their countries. abe said japanese leaders want stable and friendly relations with beijing from a broad perspective to meet international expectations. he added that this year marks the 50th anniversary of normalization of diplomatic ties between japan and south korea. he said tokyo and seoul should hold a summit without preconditions, despite tough issues between them. abe added that he's keeping the door open for dialogue. high-ranking officials from japan's ruling coalition parties will go to china next week in hopes of improving relations. tanigaki of the liberal democratic party and uinoe of komeito said they will visit beijing from march 23rd to 25th.
me plan to talk with senior members of the communist party's international department in an effort to resume exchanges. tanigaki and inouye will also seek to have talks with members of the communist party leadership. >> translator: we want to resume exchanges, which have been halted for some time, and to promote friendship and mutual political trust between the two countries. >> a reporter asked if they will discuss the statement prime minister abe plans to release later this year on the 70th anniversary of the end of world war ii. inouye said the discussions with the chinese side will be based on the japanese government's stance on the issue. a japanese-american woman has been making quilts about the 2011 disaster that hit northeastern japan. she tours the u.s. with her
creations telling stories of her journey to other quultmakers. nhk world's kenji mccully has more. >> reporter: at a gathering women at this community in lawrence kansas are making some quilts. quiltmaking is a popular pastime in the united states and is often a communal activity. but what's not so traditional here is the imagery of these quilts. here japan is surrounded by raging waves and the sun seems to be shedding tears. and in this one nuclear reactors are being hit by a tsunami and radiation is spewed into the air. cindy perry, a kansas resident started making a series of quilts four years ago following the tohoku disaster. >> yeah. really hard to pull through that fabric.
>> they had to come out. i felt like this series chose me to make them. i didn't really choose to make them, i don't think. i feel like they chose me. >> reporter: parry was born in japan but immigrated to the u.s. as a 1-year-old. but the country remains close to her heart. she still remembers the shock when she heard news of the disaster. her husband, mark happened to be in tokyo. he was safe and brought back newspapers with images of the devastation. these ended up giving inspiration for her quilts. at first her quilts tended toward sad imagery. the agony expressed in this piece was what perry was feeling at the time. >> i want to express the surreal nightmarish scenario. and convey the feeling of being dazed.
>> reporter: parry tells her fellow quilters what she wanted to express in the piece. >> suddenly the life that you worked so hard for, the life that you knew, it's gone. >> reporter: last november perry visited the affected areas of tohoku for the first time. what struck her most she says was a single pine tree that remained out of a forest of over 70,000 along the coastline before the tsunami. for parry it symbolized resilience and hope for the future. after her visit parry made a new piece titled "sakura," cherry blossoms. it is believed that the harsher and colder the winter the more beautiful and fuller the sakura bloom in the spring. parry hopes to pay tribute to those who continue to struggle in the wake of the disaster and to celebrate the hope for new
life which spring brings. >> i hope anyone that looks at it smiles and that they see a happier, brighter future for tohoku and for japan. >> parry has made 12 pieces in this series and hopes to make a couple more to express that her thoughts are with those affected despite the time that has passed since the disaster. kenji mcculley nhk world, lawrence, kansas. it's time now for a check of the weather. as we've been reporting, rescue efforts are under way in the south pacific islands of vanuatu. after cyclone pam devastated the region. mai shoji joins us with the latest weather conditions. >> exactly right, catherine. we have been reporting about the devastation in vanuatu. many houses have been completely destroys. and a lot of people are evacuated in temporary shelters. so for the next few days the temperatures are around the normal range, continuing on into
thursday. but 31 degrees could cause some heatstrokes for people who are living in very weak houses. the temporary shelters. and the rain could hinder the recovery process all throughout these areas. some isolated heavy showers could also occur. this is likely to not cooperate with these relief operations. now, as for the western areas, we have another storm system that we are talking about. this is nathan. nathan is quite a very indecisive storm system. you can see the path has been lingering across the water for so long, now it may even intensify as a category 3 tropical cyclone and make its way toward the western coast of queensland and around cairns. the gusts will be reaching about 130 kilometers per hour. quite some stormy conditions to be felt into friday. but it's more of the heavy rainfall. about 400 millimeters could be accumulated into friday so the
low-lying areas especially in the very extreme coast, these are the areas where flooding is certainly going to become an issue. another storm we are looking at this one has created some stormy weather across guam and saipan tossed trees around, destroyed some houses. but this is dispersed, as you can see, into the next 24 hours. so before making its way toward the philippines it looks like it will downgrade into a low pressure system. there are still some high surf advisories posted around guam with four-meter-high waves. possibly storm surge systems into eastern coasts of the philippines about the high waves will be enough to cause some damage. about two meters high. off toward the north of this we have a low pressure system across southern china. especially around hubei province we'll likely see 60 millimeters of additional rainfall. but down below that we're seeing some very foggy conditions across hong kong. we have some images coming up from there. take a look at this. this coming out from yesterday in hong kong but the mornings and the evening hours will look
quite similar again today. but the daytime hours should be clearing out and sunny periods will return. tokyo's experiencing the similar conditions. take a look at the fog. the visibility is quite low. and we are looking at some travel disturbances already today. a big topic for japan, though, is the warmth. some of these areas are seeing early. maebashi 22 degrees, tokyo 19 degrees. and the good news is we're not going to be seeing any more rain for the daytime but another round of rainy day continuing into our thursday. a quick look here at the u.s. areas of snowfall into the u.s. and that's likely to pull into maine. about 20 centimeters. and some thunderstorms could happen across southern areas of texas. the temperatures will be dramatically dropping in and around chicago. so do watch out for that. i'll leave you now for an extended forecast. ♪