. . . hello there. welcome to "newsline." it is tuesday march 22nd. i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. u.s. president barack obama has met with cuban president raul castro as part of his historic trip to the island nation. obama was greeted by castro at the palace of the revolution on the second day of his visit. it is the first visit to cuba by a sitting u.s. president in nearly 90 years. their meeting covered economic ties and human rights issues in cuba. they made joint comments and took questions from reporters. rights record, while castro demand the u.s. congress lift
economic sanctions all together. >> i've said consistently after five difficult decades the relationship between our governments will not be transformed overnight. we continue as president castro indicated to have some very serious differences, including on democracy and human rights. >> translator: i had the opportunity to discuss with president obama further steps that could be taken in order to remove restrictions, and contribute to the dismantling of the blockade. >> on the first day of obama's visit, members of a woman's group campaigning for democracy in cuba were detained during a rally. there's opposition in the u.s. to rebuilding ties with cuba. critics cite human rights violations in the communist state. castro said the issue should not be used for political purposes. japan's prime minister shinzo abe says the self-defense
forces must prepare for their new duties. security legislation set to go into effect next week will expand duties abroad. abe spoke at a national defense academy graduation ceremony near tokyo. >> translator: preparation under the assumption of any and all situations, including protecting the troops of other countries, is necessary for possible new duties based on security laws which will take effect this month. >> the majority of the defense academy graduates go on to serve in the self-defense forces, but there's been an increase in those opting for another course. 47 last year sought careers outside the sds. the percentage of graduates declining to enter the sds each year since 1988.
this year, 11.2% said no. that's the fourth biggest ratio in the academy's 60-year history. the highest percentage was recorded in 1991. that was when japan's government personnel overseas for the first time. the personnel took part in a mine sweeping operation in the persian gulf after the end of the gulf war. the timing coincided with soaring labor demand during the final phase of japan's economic bubble. following the graduation ceremony, some parents shared mixed feelings. >> translator: i understand that the new security law is suitable for today's international situation. i hope my son will fulfill his duty. >> translator: i'm worried about my daughter. maybe she's going to a battlefield. anyway, it's a hard decision. >> the academy acknowledged the
rising graduates pursuing different careers, but maintains it isn't because of the new laws. japan is loading plutonium on a ship to be transported to the u.s. under a bilateral agreement. the ship will carry 331 kilograms of pure plutonium believed to make 40 atomic bombs. the transfer is part of counterterrorism measures agreed upon by japan and the u.s. at a nuclear security summit in 2014. japan originally purchased the plutonium from some western countries in the 1970s. it has been used for research purposes. the japanese government has not disclosed the route of transport, citing security reasons. on monday, an armed british registered ship arrived, and the cargo carrying the mark of nuclear materials was loaded on tuesday. experts say the purity of the plutonium is so high, it could easily be used in nuclear weapons. the material will be processed
at a facility in the u.s. to prevent such use. other than the shipment, japan has 47 tons of plutonium produced through reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. japan planned to use the stockpile in a reactor that burns plutonium, but the reactor is still under development. indonesia and china are butting heads in the south china sea. officials in jakarta say the chinese coast guard interfered with one of their patrol ships trying to detain a chinese boat fishing illegally. >> translator: we want to prote protest. the chinese coast guard has infringed on indonesian sovereignty and jurisdiction in our exclusive economic zone as well as in our waters. >> the indonesian government officials say a chinese coast guard vessel struck the ship on
saturday. the indonesian vessel had already captured the crew of the chinese boat. china claims jurisdiction over almost the spire south china sea, which includes parts of waters off the natuna islands. they urge indonesia to release the crew quickly. >> translator: the chinese hopes to bear in mind the bilateral relations. the two countries should make efforts to handle this incident. >> the chinese boat was fishing in waters traditionally considered chinese. market players are keeping a close eye on the chinese yuan. some are concerned over so-called currency war, but leaders of the world second largest economy deny engaging in currency lowering. ai uchida joins us from the business desk. what's happening now with this? >> we are hearing from china state-run media, they're reporting the premier said a
currency war would do no good to the recovery of the global economy. he said that china doesn't support it. rather, lee said a cheaper yuan would harm china's structural reform. christine lagarde is in beijing on monday. the weakening of the yuan was one topic of conversation. lee told lagarde said china will not devalue the yuan. it's weakening against the dollar since the latter half of last year. some in china hope the government will devalue the yuan. lee's remark was apparently aimed at stabilizing the currency, and stressing the stance of pushing forward with reform to transform the economy into one led by personal consumption. let's check on markets now. u.s. stock prices ended slightly higher monday. the dow jones industrial average closed a touch higher, rose for seven sessions in a row.
the tech-heavy nasdaq was also up 0.3%. we're going to see how tokyo markets are starting the trading week here. we go to ramin mellegard who is at the tokyo stock exchange. what are you seeing over there? >> yeah, we're playing a little catch-up here. markets were closed on monday. let's have a look at how the nikkei and topix are kicking off. we're back above the 17,000 level. just over 2%. pretty strong start. just a reminder of how we left off on friday last week. nikkei close d lower a fourth dy in a row. >> ramin, let me jump in there. some are worried about a currency war. get us updated on some of the key levels. >> as you were touching on there earlier on, some concerns there about the currency levels.
the dollar/yen rebounding somewhat this morning. atlanta fed president dennis lockhart said there was sufficient momentum in the u.s. economy to justify a rate hike. as early as april. dollar/yen 112.16. that led to the dollar higher against major peers. late last week the dollar had in fact traded at the 110 yen levels at one point. analysts suggest after the central bank meetings last week, with the fed and the bank of japan, a little bit of a tug-of-war going on there between the divergent policy measures there. investors still wary, a little bit concerned about the global growth prospects, and also inflation targets. that's really kept investors from making any major outright moves. as you mentioned, ai, the chinese yuan focused there, fell a touch on monday against the
dollar. on friday, the chinese currency touched a three-month high against the dollar. now, china markets will be open in an hour and a half after the shanghai composite rose 2.2% on monday. that's the first close, actually, above 2,000 since january. let's have a look at some of the indexes that are open right now. seoul's kospi is up a third of a percent. australia is in the negative, just barely. back in japan here, there may be a big focus on japan's rail business. that's after the unveiling on friday of hitachi's new rolling stock in london. and hitachi also opened up an assembly point there, where they will assemble a lot of the rolling stock. a big focus for hitachi in its ventures overseas. that's all from me. back to you. >> ramin, sounds good. we'll talk to you in a few hours' time there. reporting for us live from the
tokyo stock exchange. japanese officials want to see more fuel cell vehicles on the roads. the industry ministry plans to promote the eco-friendly cars, so at least 800,000 are in use by the year 2030. the vehicles run on electricity generated by hydrogen that reacts with oxygen in the air. they don't emit carbon dioxide or other exhaust gases. toyota and honda have about 500 combined on the road. the ministry officials say the keys to get more people to switch are lower prices, and more hydrogen filling stations. the officials want the cars to retail for under $26,000. that is the cost of popular models now. fuel cell vehicles currently cost more than $62,000. the officials also aim to quadruple filling stations to about 320 over the next decade. they'll also look at easing regulations on their installation, and operation. whiskey is distilled in japan, has surged in popularity
in recent years. worldwide exports hit $90 million last year. that's a ten-fold jump from a decade earlier. in today's view from the top, we introduce a small japanese distiller with a global following. but as ichiro tells us, success didn't happen overnight. >> reporter: japanese whiskey in the spotlight. this event took place in kyoto last month. one of the labels on many people's lips is ichiro's malt. it's produced by the owner of an independent distillery. his malts have been winning international prizes. >> i'm surprised by the come please ti of the flavor. i really enjoyed it. >> second to none in my view. >> reporter: the whiskey is matured here in the basin of the chick chickhibu mountains.
>> translator: the long aging process breathes life into the liquor, and turns it into whiskey. i like to think of the process this way. time gives life to a whiskey, while the person's life gets shorter as he eagerly waits for the first sip. team means life to both whiskey and people. >> reporter: after graduating from university, he joined a leading sake producer. a turning point came when he was 38. his family was forced to sell off their financially struggling brewery. his family produced sake and whiskey. but the buyer had no interest in whiskey, and wanted to dispose of all the barrels. akito took over the 400 remaining kasks and decided to start his own business. >> translator: some of the spirits were nearly 20 years
old. they're just like kids, reaching the age of 20. i couldn't bear to let them go down the drain, so i started the distillery, to send the spirits off into the world. >> reporter: the distillery was small. but akito wanted it to be special. whiskey ages best when conditions are both hot and cold. acuto wants to make best use of the big swing in the temperatures. his casks are exposed to the natural temperature and humidity that permeate through the soil. his casks are made of oak. he believes this wood gives the liquor a fruitier aroma and depth. >> translator: to produce the subtle differences, you need to insist on details to the point that other people might question your sanity. i want my whiskey to be unique, so people will know the moment they taste it.
>> reporter: he's always testing blends. he has visited thousands of bars across japan. and keeps notes on the feedback he gets from bartenders and c n conn -- connoisseurs. >> translator: here i believe i've given birth to something entirely new. >> reporter: japan's whiskey has put itself on the map, with more effort and time, he said it will pay even bigger dividends in the years ahead. >> that's the latest in business news for this hour. i'll leave you with a check on markets.
the wooden houses of kyoto are a unique feature of japan's ancient capital. they've helped create the city's distinctive low rise character. but now they're under threat. this next report looks at a movement to try to save them. >> this american likes kyoto so much he bought one to live in. his home is about 100 years old. >> every day we spend time in different rooms experiencing, like what's great about each one. in the winter, we spend much time in the kototsu room keeping
warm. in the spring and summer we'll open up the windows and enjoy the weather outside. we love it. >> these days, a growing number of people are interested in buying old matchia, either to live in themselves or to convert into accommodations for visitors to the city. >> translator: we've received inquiries from all over the world. taiwan, singapore, the u.s. including some multimillionaires. >> however, the owners of the matchia are often unaware of the demand and are selling thr for redevelopment. as of 2010, there were around 48,000 old houses left in kyoto. but every year, over 500 of them fall to the wrecking ball. kojima is one of those who worry about this trend. she runs an npo dedicated to prefbing matchia. >> translator: if kyoto is to
remain kyoto, we must pass on the culture of wooden architecture, including matchia. >> reporter: after consulting with kojima, some owners decided to preserve their matchia. the owner of this row of five houses was approached by a construction company that wanted to buy the land. for a moment, she considered selling out. but kojima paid a visit and advised her the buildings had many original architectural features. >> translator: i was told the tiles and wooden fixtures were valuable. i started to think i would rather restore these matchia, and rent them to people who can appreciate them. >> translator: we want to encourage more people to carefully maintain their matchia, or to hand them on to new owners. if people understand this, then we can preserve the feel of the city. >> kojima's npo is now working
with kyoto city to encourage owners not to destroy their matchia, to keep the historic townscape for the future. this year is the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between japan and italy. events are being held in both countries. they include a retrospective exhibition of one of the greatest western artists in history. he created a masterpiece, that made its public debut in tokyo. >> reporter: this is mary magdalene, looking up to heaven with an expression of ecstasy on her face. there are many well-known paintings with the same composition. but this one was discovered in a private european collection in 2014. an art historian has certified
it as a genuine >> translator: i knew without thinking, and cried out, it's her. this is the mary magdalene that many people have been searching for. >> reporter: this exhibition includes 11 of his paintings, as well as works by other painters he influenced. he was born in milan in 1571. his style of thorough realism included dramatic use of light and shadow. it had a huge influence on baroque paintings, which became a major trend in the 17th century. this art historian curated the exhibition. >> what would you say is the allure of his work? >> translator: his paintings aren't the same as other realistic painters.
his realism is sour and ugly, a true observation of the human state. the people in his paintings are the same people we see on the street today. that's why we may feel more familiar with them than those of rafael. he depicted people in life size. the second is light. the subject's vivid expression is floating in space. the strong light that normally comes from the upper left side hits the faces and a few other parts. the rest is all in darkness. he painted with the viewer's reactions in mind, to draw them
into the picture. >> reporter: he created many masterpieces. and became the most popular artist of his time. since then, his notoriety has only grown. at this exhibition, historical documents can also be seen. they include police and court records related to violence and a scandal that he caused. in 1606, the 34-year-old committed a murder during a fight with a group of his enemies. he fled from rome after receiving a death sentence from the pope. this is the world's first public exhibit of mary magdalene in ecstasy. he painted it immediately after his escape. he's believed to have kept it by his side until his death at the age of 38. the subject looks as if she's sinking into deep darkness. the introspective light expresses tranquility which is the style of his later years.
>> translator: my eyes were fixed on her hands, which are characteristic of his paintings. when we analyzed the creative process and the way the colors were applied, it was clear that this was not forged. it is definitely karavogio's work. >> reporter: it's a painting that the continue to fascinate the world. as will many of his other creations. marie yanaka, nhk world. for those of you who will be in japan or heading out to the country, the exhibition is on until june 12th at the national museum of western art in tokyo. people across japan are going out under sunny skies. meteorologist robert speta joins us with more in world weather. >> actually, as we look ahead through the next 24 to 48 hours, temperatures will continue to rise up. so you do want to get out and
enjoy yourself. the cherry blossoms starting to bloom in the tokyo area as well. it looks like one final shot of winter likely by the latter part of the week out here. that's really going to be a result of a storm system actually developing back here towards southeastern china. already bringing heavy rainfall in some locations there outside hong kong. 140 millimeters reported in the last 24 hours. in the next 48 hours, you're really going to be seeing this front continuing to develop. that's going to bring additional precipitation in a few locations. as much as 100 to 150 millimeters as that develops and pulls off to the northeast. you have to remember, this is a low pressure system. these move in a counterclock-wise rotation. so as that comes up here, it's going to be pulling in those southerly winds. that's why temperatures across most of japan pushing into the mid to high teens as we go ahead throughout the rest of your tuesday, into wednesday.
but what goes up comes down. so you have the winds coming in from the south. then we'll have the winds coming in from the north. temperatures will actually drop down into the mid to latter part of this week. and most of northeastern asia. tokyo, up to 17, a big drop. similar conditions even farther down to the south into hong kong. by the end of the week, though, it is going to be a little bit cooler. cherry blossoms starting to bloom in a few locations, even towards tokyo as well. farther back to the north, doesn't look like it's going to start bloom there. if you're heading out to tohoku, in the mid to the latter part of april. let's look over here towards europe. really, with ehave several severe weather spots across the mediterranean. we're continuing to watch one storm system over in italy here. already bringing severe weather. the threat, specially in the
southern areas of the peninsula, damaging winds, large hail could come out of this. back to the west, not as a widespread event going on here, but there is a chance of tornadoes there in parts of the iberian peninsula. already had one tornado reported, and a waterspout off the coastline of southern spain. really, that's where all the activity is right now. but if you're back towards the north, partly cloudy skies there for you. do enjoy that weather for the time being. we do have a storm system coming in by the time thursday into friday rolls around. over towards the americas, back-to-back storm systems in the pacific northwest. already bringing widespread snowfall out there, even heavy rain in some of the lower elevations. the big thing with this storm, it's shifting off toward the east. by the time thursday comes around, this is actually going to bring widespread precipitation in the frozen form across most of the great lakes, could trigger severe weather down towards texas and oklahoma. for the time being, though, the big topic out here is going to
be these dry, windy conditions. fire weather is a big problem. oklahoma city with a high of 26. down towards the south, houston at 23. washington, d.c., also started your cherry blossom season on sunday with a festival. 16 for your high and sunny skies. here's your extended outlook. that's all for this edition of "newsline." i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. thanks for joining us. yy
>> euromaxx highlights. >> a warm welcome to our highlights edition, coming at you from the heart of berlin with the following top stories: fine feathers make fine birds. costume designer sandy powell is nominated for two oscars. home sweet home. a designer and her family love their prefab home in southern norway. you are what you eat. the new nordic cuisine is based on seasonal and regional produce. europe did well this year when it comes to contenders for the coveted academy award, happening on sunday night in los angeles. it will be early monday morning here in berlin by the time all is decided. while european actors and films were well represented, sandy