welcome to "newsline." it is tuesday february 23rd. i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. the chinese government announced on monday that prime minister wang ye will meet john kerry in washington. high up on the agenda, north korea and the south china sea. the u.s. and china have agreed on the need for new u.n. sanctions for north korea. pyongyang recently conducted a nuclear test and also launched a rocket which is widely believed to have been a long-range ballistic missile test. the u.s. is calling for a tough response. but china has cautioned that harsh penalties may destabilize the region.
they will continue talks on the possible u.n. sanctions. it's anticipated wang will urge the u.s. to start discussions with north korea. he proposed last week that denuclearization talks should be paired with the consideration of a peace treaty which pyongyang wants. but the u.s. is refusing to sit down with north korea until it takes specific steps towards denuclearization. also on the agenda for kerry and wang, the south china sea. last week kerry criticized china for deploying a missile system on a disputed island despite chinese president xi jinping's pledge not to militarize the region. now, countries near north korea have been on heightened alert. u.s. marines stationed in the southern japanese prefecture of okinawa are on an exercise at sea. our chief correspondent joins them. >> reporter: it was mid-february after the north launched a
rocket. u.s. marines were on duty at an undisclosed location off the coast of okinawa. an amphibious assault ship serving as a base for u.s. marines. onboard were 2,000 members of the marine corps. amphibious assaults are their specialty. when a conflict breaks out, they're the first to be sent in. the public affairs office said the exercise is just a routine mission. but marines onboard say they're aware of the situation on the korean peninsula. >> i think everybody recognizes
it. it's pretty much all over the news in every country all over the world. we definitely recognize it. that's why we're out here ready, no matter what, whether we get the call or not, we'll be here in case people we need to defend need our help. that's why we're deployed. >> reporter: 150 fully armed troops boarded osprey aircraft. i followed them as they headed for a distant island. about 90 minutes later they landed. it was a drill. the scenario was an airfield overwhelmed by enemy forces. the number of enemy were more than double the marines. the aim was to contain a large number of enemy troops.
firearms were not used. instead, they checked if the marines exactly followed the simulated procedures. they split into two directions. one went to an airfield, the other was assigned to take out the enemy bunkers. after about one hour, they captured the airfield. the drill include d handling enemy bodies and prisoners. they stayed there for three days. there's a reason for this. the marines are the first to be sent into combat to secure an area and hold it until a large military force has arrived. that takes at least three days. marine commanders use this scenario to prepare the troops
for an emergency. no matter where they are deployed. >> really, it's my job to maintain this force, and to be ready to respond if we're called to do so. it could be -- you mentioned tensions on the peninsula, but it could be anything. it could be elsewhere. and this is a vast area of responsibility. it is the largest of all the combatant commands. >> reporter: the marines will remain at sea for a while. and later conduct joint exercises with south korean troops. the drill is expected to be their biggest ever. chinese leaders say they'll support international efforts to curb north korea's nuclear ambitions. but they're wary about putting too much pressure on pyongyang, and a look at their border shows why. >> reporter: china shares a
1,300 kilometer border with north korea. the river freezes over in the winter, and it's narrow enough for people to cross. many north koreans have used it to flee their country. chinese authorities have been putting up barbed wire along the river bank, and they've been installing surveillance cameras just meters apart. the number of people trying to cross the border has dropped, but officials worry that putting up tougher sanctions on north korea might trigger another exodus. leaders in pyongyang are open about their nuclear and missile programs, and they're not listening to beijing's calls for restraint. officials in beijing say their
influence on north korea is limited, and countries should not count on them to control pyongyang. but economic ties between the two neighbors are strong. 70% of the bilateral trade goes through the border city of dandong. observers say there haven't been much change in volume since last month's nuclear test. trade between the countries last year reached about $5.5 billion. that's more than three times what it was back in 2006, when the u.n. imposed sanctions on north korea after its first nuclear test. china imports coal and iron ore from its neighbor. some chinese businesses are also counting on labor from across the border. these women cross the border at dandong heading to work in factories nearby.
authorities say 90,000 north koreans entered china to work last year. chinese firms like them because they're cheap. they'll work for about half the rate chinese employees will. and that's even more important to the firms, now that the economy is slowing. some businesses are even venturing into north korea. one entrepreneur has opened a garment factory in pyongyang. he labels north korean-made garment made in china, and exports them to japan and south korea. >> translator: we're making a profit thanks to the cheap north korean labor. >> reporter: last year, $600 million worth of clothing was made in the north and exported to china. some of it was then shipped abroad as chinese products.
that's just one of the ways people are sidestepping the international sanctions. some chinese firms are starting to see north korea as a possible market. they took part in a trade show last year in the north's rasson special economic zone, showing everything from food and drink. chinese-made vehicles. to musical instruments. and even massage machines. these exporters say trade with north korea will bring benefits on a broader scale, ushering in economic reforms and political stability. but they may not get the chance to prove it. for now, they're waiting to see whether their businesses will be caught in the net of new sanctions.
representatives from more than 90 countries have gathered in geneva for a u.n. meeting on nuclear disarmament, but they may find it difficult to make progress. the talks don't include any negotiators from countries with nuclear weapons. >> i sincerely hope to break through the paralysis which has characterized and stymied the debate on nuclear disarmament in recent decades. >> former u.n. secretary-general kofi annan noted 40 years have passed since the nonproliferation treaty has taken effect. japanese officials have sent a contingent to take part in the meeting. >> the country devastated by nuclear, we have a strong desire for freeing of nuclear weapons. >> members of the u.n. general assembly set up the working group on disarmament late last year.
but the u.s. and other nuclear powers refuse to take part. japan abstained from the vote. but japanese atomic bombing survivors have been pushing for leaders to take part in the discussions. >> translator: the government's stance is to maintain security under the protection of the u.s. nuclear umbrella. but that on its own will not gain the support of the japanese people. >> the talks will last for five days, and negotiators will hold two more meetings by the end of august. then they'll submit a report to the u.n. general assembly. the international atomic energy agency is hosting a conference in vienna on the safe use of nuclear power. iaea director general opened the panel for experts from across the globe. he talked about the 2011 fukushima daiichi nuclear
accident. he said a large-scale accident was unthinkable in japan. he said the widespread assumption that the country's nuclear power plants were safe was a major contributing factor in the disaster. >> a strong safety culture is vital. not just for the licensing, but also for the regular la tiff bodies, and other stakeholders. >> he stressed the need for a culture that encourages continued improvement and challenges assumptions and perceived wisdom. tepco is scheduled to talk about the cleanup and new safety measures. the united states and russia have announced that a new ceasefire plan for syria will take effect on saturday. monday's agreement comes after extensive talks between the two countries. washington and russia back
different sides in the five-year civil war. the u.s. state department released a joint statement with russia that calls for an end of fighting between syrian president bashar al assad's government and opposition groups. u.s. president barack obama and his russian counterpart vladimir putin discussed the issue by phone on monday. obama welcomed the agreement and told putin that the assad regime and opposition groups now have to faithfully implement the ceasefire. the united states, russia, middle eastern countries and others had agreed to stop fighting in syria by february 19th. but the violence continued unabated. deadly explosions near the capital damascus and in the central city of holmes on sunday killed 184 people. islamic state militants claimed responsibility for the attacks. the terms for the ceasefire exclude the islamic state militant group. oil prices have been on a downward trend, and investors are wondering where it's headed.
let's go to ai uchida ai, people are worried about the oversupply. >> right, catherine. prices have come up because there's so much of it. u.s. shale oil production will likely fall over the next couple of years, and with that, oil prices rose. the benchmark west texas intermediate reached the $32 a barrel level on monday, up more than 8% from the end of last week. the iaea's medium term report predicts a slowdown on the back of the prolonged decline in crude oil prices. this suggested the current oversupply will ease, triggering a lot of buy orders. market watchers say the buying trend was boosted by confirmation last weekend of fewer oil rigs operating in the u.s. but they also point to the iaea that global supply will exceed demand this year.
they say it will be some time before we see a significant recovery in oil prices. let's see the impact on the markets. overnight, wall street rallied with all major indices posting gains of just around 1.4%. here in tokyo this morning, the nikkei is trading higher by just about .5% at 16,199. investors are feeling bullish as their concerns eased on global stock markets, including china. the oil tailwind has lifted share prices with the energy and materials sectors leading the advance. on to currencies now, the dollar/yen touched 113. the pair is a range from this morning trading in the mid-112 yen levels. the euro is hovering near three-week lows against the dollar. the euro/dollar is trading at 1.10.
. the common currency over uncertainties whether britain would stay in the yun union, the british pound is taking a hit as well. checking on markets across the asia-pacific region, open at this hour, south korea's kospi and australian shares modestly higher this morning. we'll see where that takes us. thousands of electronics manufacturers are showcasing their latest mobile devices at the largest trade show of its kind. their devices are loaded with new features in a bid to boost demand in the slowing smartphone market. more than 2,000 firms from around the world are taking part in the four-day event. japan's sony unveiled an ear phone that allows users to operate a smartphone using only voice. a microphone, artificial intelligence capability for voice recognition are embedded into the device. sony also has a projector that
allows users to display the content of a smartphone screen on a wall or a desk. >> translator: we think we can expand our technology to different situations. >> south korea's electronics has come up with a unique camera. it can capture images all around it, and send them to a smafrt foen connected to a headset. this allows users to experience virtual reality. meanwhile, china's wau way has improved cameras and batteries. smartphone markets are becoming saturated, especially in industrialized countries. manufacturers are trying to devise new ways of using mobile phones in the hopes this will be the key to improved earnings. u.s. president barack obama has expressed hope that congress will approve the transpacific partnership free trade pact while he's still in office. his tenure runs until next january.
obama was speaking to an audience of u.s. state governors on monday. >> i am cautiously optimistic that we can still get it done. >> obama admitted it will be difficult to get significant support from other democrats who are mostly opposed to the pact. they believe the tpp will take jobs away from many americans. he then explained his intention to rely on votes from republicans, as well as some democrats to get approval by the end of this year. 12 pacific rim countries signed the tpp agreement earlier this month. since then, they've been tried to persuade their respective parliaments to approve the pact. some of the democrats that strongly oppose the pact say congressional approval procedures should begin after the presidential election in november. many creative people dream of selling their works online. but turning a hobby into a business isn't easy. despite all the shopping
platforms available. help is on hand, though, thanks to some web companies crafting a personal touch. nhk's keiko aso has more. >> reporter: this site carries a huge range of products around items. a closer inspection reveals unusual motifs, fun shapes and novelty items. these are made by ordinary people pursuing a hobby. a website selling home crafts has exploded in recent years. this company is trying a different approach. it's for online sellers to use. here they can develop their ideas from others with more experience. the company would even give them tips to get started. a group of women has come looking for help. they all enjoy handicrafts, but
most have never sold online before. staff advise vendors that a good shot can make or break a sale. the background color is key. and you could use a reflector. >> translator: the gray background makes it look classy. it's a small thing that makes such a difference. >> reporter: the experts also warn against selling products too cleanly. material costs are just one expense. the makers also have to consider shipping and packaging. >> translator: the information online is limited. it is great that i can listen to the explanations and have my questions answered. >> translator: a growing number of people want to start creating things. last year's transactions at our site totaled about $38 million. and this year i'd like to double that.
>> reporter: creativity comes in many forms. and it doesn't always mean handmade products. this is a part-time fashion designer. it all started because she had trouble finding clothes to fit her petite size. now she sells items online for women in the same situation. >> translator: my dress patterns make clothes that make you look stylish by just wearing them. >> reporter: she's an office worker. she has no training in fashion design. but that's not a problem. the online shop has it covered. all she has to do is upload the drawings of her design, and the site operator es rest.first, it pattern based on her drawings. then it places an order to its network of 200 factories where the outfit is tailored by
professionals. the service fee starts around $900. her listing on the site features two designs, 20 pieces each. >> translator: i always had a dream to do this. but it looked like a difficult process. now after using the system, i learned that everything was surprisingly easy. >> reporter: the system is hiring people to experiment. the site offered a variety of clothing to anime costumes. >> translator: our system enables you to start your own brand without the knowledge, business connections or money. we offer professional skills and technology usually used for mass manufacturing. >> reporter: you meet a lot of people in ecommerce.
perhaps the key to future success in the industry is the personal touch. keiko aso, nhk world. that's the latest in business. it's back to catherine. >> maybe you can make my jackets. time for a check of the weather. people in southeastern u.s. states are preparing for severe weather conditions. meteorologist robert speta has the details. >> yes. what we're seeing out here is this area of low pressure, really starting to develop as it pulls off to the east. with it is this increase in that severe weather threat. behind it, we are looking at that cold air, the warm air coming in from the south. every time we talk about this, the collision of the air mass. this is going to be no different with a chance of hail, even damaging winds. yes, also the potential of hail or two. especially across parts of mississippi, toward alabama, and also into western locations of florida. so if you have travel plans across that area, you do want to be ready for that threat. back to the north, other
locations marked out here with a chance of heavy snow. even the threat of freezing rain. we talk about freezing rain, there is that risk of power outages. you get the ice built up on the power lines. definitely very slick roads out there. also at the airports as well. so up and down the eastern seaboards here on your wednesday, look at the chance of travel delays, something to watch out for. the severe weather is really going to be confined across the south, parts of the carolinas, eastern northern florida as well, as that whole system continues to track off to the east. temperatures look like this in chicago with a high of 4. denver at 2. night and day from last week. remember, you were up in the 20s for your highs. snowfall there in your forecast. now, los angeles, actually almost summer-like with a high of 28. where it does not look summer-like is across western areas of russia. in fact, i want to show you video really quick coming out of this region. now, if you think some winr sports are kind of extreme, i think this is really up there.
this is where people play chess in 5 degree temperature water. the water was actually warmer than the air around it. it was about 2 degrees for the high at this location that day. each game lasted about ten minutes. trying to finish it up legally as quickly as possible. that's one tournament. if you are into winter sports, but not exactly that, how about skiing or snowboarding across the alps. you're looking at snowfall over the next several days with a front continuing to dip down from the north. but it is going to be windy as well. so definitely will not be wanting to play that chess match. some areas seeing 100 kilometer per hour winds in germany, extending over to poland as well. berlin with a high of only 8. partly cloudy skies in your forecast. warsaw, 6. mild down to the south. athens toward madrid and into lisbon on your tuesday. let's wrap things up here across eastern areas of asia. across much of japan, toward the
korean peninsula, right now we have several areas of low pressure, really setting up, making for messy weather. rainfall expected across parts of ki yu shi, cloudy skies, maybe a passing shower into tokyo, and still the snow off to the north. with this, we are looking at a typical winter weather pattern for february. i know this winter season has been anything but typical out here. but this is what we should be seeing with those northwesterly winds coming in. persistent snowfall across hokkaido to tohoku. on the chilly side in the west. seoul with a high of 4. here's your extended outlook.
>> we have put together a great show for you today. before we get started, let's take a quick look at what is coming up in the next half hour. san sebastian is a 2016 capital of culture. recycled art, one man from britain and his hubcap sculptures. clear perspectives, a berlin window cleaner and his photo collection. the city of san sebastian has recently completed opening celebrations as one of this year's european capitals of culture. located on the north coast of spain, it is home to a vibrancy