a very warm welcome to nhk "newsline" broadcasting to viewers around the globe. it's 10:00 a.m. in tokyo. i'm catherine kobayashi. our top story this hour, the trade deficit of the united states rose last year. it's something president donald trump has spoken out against, criticizing countries that contribute to it. this year, japan has become the second biggest cause of deficit joining china at the top. the commerce department says the shortfall in trade of goods and services increased 0.3% over $502 billion. with china, the deficit in trading goods fell 5% to $347 billion.
while the one with japan remained almost flat near $69 billion. the imbalance with germany narrowed by 13% to just below $65 billion. and the deficit with mexico rose slightly by 4%. japan moved into the number two spot by overtaking germany. increased car exports were the main factor. trump accuses countries it has a trade deficit with for being responsible for american job losses. the trade deficit is just one of the many issues that will be brought up when donald trump hosts japan's prime minister in washington on friday. with uncertainty over the new president's policies, shinzo abe's government is scrambling to plan its strategy. >> i will be the greatest jobs producer that god ever created. >> domestic job creation is one of trump's priorities. abe is expected to propose a plan to create growth and jobs in the u.s.
that will involve infrastructure investments and other projects. trump has criticized japan's auto market calling it closed. he's also accused the country of manipulating its currency through financial and foreign exchange policies. that's caused alarm in tokyo and put it on the defense. but abe is also going in with a goal to forge a strong bond with trump and build trust. and he hopes that can help resolve some of the issues. the two leaders first met in november shortly after trump's election victory and before he took office. trump told a sports radio program he intends to deepen the relationship. he said he's looking forward to a round of golf with abe at his private florida resort. trump said he knows the prime minister loves the game and added he'll make sure they're partners not competitors. that will resonate on another key issue for japan, defense. abe hopes his trip will build on a visit last week by the new american defense secretary.
>> i made clear that our longstanding policy on the senkaku islands stands. the united states will continue to recognize japanese administration of the islands and as such article 5 of the u.s./japan security treaty applies. >> article 5 obliges the u.s. to defend japan against any attacks, an important commitment for tokyo. japan controls the senkakus in the east china sea. the government maintains the islands are an inherent part of japan's territory. china and taiwan claim them. japan's foreign minister heard a similar message in a phone conversation with his new counterpart rex tillerson. >> translator: it's reassuring that u.s. foreign affairs and defense authorities were both clear on the same point. this marks a good start. >> abe wants to confirm himself that the security treaty extends to the senkakus. he also wants to ensure both sides will work to strengthen the alliance.
an american appeals court has heard arguments over the president's controversial travel ban. it's the latest step in the legal fight sparked by the measures said many including donald trump say it might not be the last. a reporter asked him how far he's willing to take the fight. >> we're going to take it through the system. it's very important for the country regardless of me or whoever succeeds at a later date. we have to have security in our country. >> and he was asked whether it will end up in front of the supreme court. >> we'll see. hopefully it doesn't have to. >> a temporary ban on entering the u.s. for all refugees and people from seven predominantly muslim countries in the middle east and africa. last week a federal district court in washington state blocked the order nationwide. the trump administration appealed that ruling in a court in california. it's expected to announce the decision this week.
two players are skipping a trip to the white house. the super bowl on sunday was the biggest game of the year for american football fans. it's the u.s. national football league's title game. finish was thrilling with the new england patriots staging a come back in the first ever super bowl to go to overtime. for the winners it's customary to pay a visit to the white house. two of the super bowl champions reportedly say they aren't accepting the invite. mccorty told the media he didn't feel accepted at the white house. with the president having so many strong opinions and prejudices, certain people might feel accepted while others
won't. asked about why he wouldn't attend a ceremony at the white house, bennett answered people would know why. he has expressed his opposition to trump's policies. the team's owner, robert craft and mvp quarterback tom brady are reported to be close to the president. let's take a look at business news. japanese business officials have released economic data. what do the latest figures tell us. >> you were talking about the u.s. trade data earlier. it's the current account balance which is the broadest measure of japan's trade. in 2016 it stayed in the black. finance ministry officials say the surplus stood at more than $183 billion. it's the second consecutive year of being in positive territory. on a monthly basis, the latest figure for december also remained in the black. but that's for the 30th
consecutive month. and that surplus coming in at about $10 billion. china's foreign currency reserves have fallen below $3 trillion for the first time in almost six years. repeated market intervention to curb a slide in the yuan, that's believed to have caused the drop. officials at the people's bank of china say the reserves stood just under $3 trillion at the end of january. that's down $12.3 billion from the previous month and marks the seventh straight monthly decline. chinese businesses and individuals are selling the yuan to buy the u.s. dollar. they're worried about china's economic slowdown and also expect the u.s. economy to see strong growth. countries use foreign reserves to intervene in the currency markets or to repay for undenominated debts.
china still holds the world's largest reserves, despite the drop. all eyes are on whether beijing will tighten controls to shore up the yuan. let's get a check on markets now. tokyo share prices did open hirer. the nikkei is in positive territory. export related shares are higher as the yen retreated but energy shares are leading the declines on a drop in crude oil futures. let's check on currencies. bargain hunting lifted the dollar after it slipped to a ten-week low on tuesday. the dollar rose on the back of weaker euro. traders have sold the common currency on concerns over nationalists groups ahead of several selections in europe. the single currency fetching
$1.06. another day of sharply low oil prices. data from the american petroleum institute showed an increase in crude stockpiles. wti is at a three-week low. let's move onto markets open this hour. elsewhere in the asia pacific we're seeing a mixture with seoul's kospi down. china markets will open in under half an hour. a company in central japan is to become the first maker of dried bonito. to get the green light to export it to the european union. the key ingredient in japanese cuisine is also known as katsobushi. dried bonito is used to make broth. demand is rising in europe thanks to the popularity of
japanese dishes. but strict food hygiene rules have prevented japan from exporting it. the company will soon receive certification under an international standard for food safety management. it's renovated its factory to meet junior regulations with help from local authorities. it hopes to start exports as early as april. >> reporter: last week taxi firms changed their structure. most taxis operating in the center of the city have slashed their base fare to 410 yen for just over a kilometer. that's nearly $3 less than the old fare, which ran for the first two kilometers. the new rate is intended to encourage more people to take short trips. operators hope families with
small children or the elderly will take cabs more often. the taxi industry is especially pinning its hopes on foreign visitors. 24 million tourists a year now visit japan. but one survey found nearly six in ten thought tokyo taxis were too expensive. although distances differ, the starting taxi fare in new york is $2.50. in seoul it's $2.63. companies in tokyo hope that by bringing down the base fare in line with other cities, they can encourage more foreign visitors to jump into cabs. >> it will be good if the prices go down. >> because it will make more people use them. >> reporter: it is a reason why foreign visitors say they don't use taxis in japan. one taxi company has created
this smartphone app that lets people call for a cab even if they have no japanese language skills. using the app is easy. just choose your pickup point and destination on the map. when the driver receives a request, the customer is given the reservation number and approximate waiting time. last month this taxi firm started the services in chinese and korean in addition to english. >> translator: we're hoping that customers use this simple process to call a cab. since all they need to do is check where they are with their gps. >> reporter: another taxi firm is trying out a new system to launch a service by 2020. they're installing the voice translation systems in chartered taxis.
>> senshoji temple in front of you. >> reporter: when the driver or passenger speaks into a microphone, a computer gives a translation in text and out loud. >> i'm interested in some good restaurants in this area. >> there are many inexpensive restaurant. what would you like? >> it is good and the system works well for the small questions and for fast questions. >> translator: i'm hoping this system will help attract more customers from various countries. >> reporter: the 2020 tokyo olympics is expected to send the visitors numbers soaring and taxi companies are working hard to make sure they are ready. daisuke azuma, nhk world, tokyo.
and effectively communicate with the millions who could be stranded in the city center. nhk world has more. >> this is a drill. this is a drill. a strong earthquake has occurred in the tokyo area. >> this is a safe area. so please act calmly. >> reporter: a multilingual bullhorn wakens the day's participants. many are from japan, but there's also a large contingent from abroad. the point of all this? earthquake preparedness. in 2011, the earthquake that devastated japan's northeast caused tokyo to shut down. as the busiest crossing in the world, this was the scene. with no public transport, 5 million people were stranded
across the city. six years later, there are plans in place in the case of a recurrence. the next time tokyo gets a big jolt, the crossing screens will display helpful info. this display is just one of many drills taking place on tuesday. tokyo is an international destination, which means there's an added communication concern. >> translator: a lot of foreigners come to shibuya every day, so when we think about disaster preparedness, we also have to take them into account. we don't want to create a situation where they are left behind. >> reporter: at a company's headquarters, it's an evacuation drill. the point is to take shelter here until it's safe to go out. the focus is on better communication. for anyone who doesn't speak japanese, they provide
interpreters and these devices to listen in. >> to register your family members or friends on twitter or social network. >> reporter: there's also an app that can help with interpreting. >> is it safer than outside? >> reporter: and there's a special phone service for letting relatives know people are safe. what do people think about the drill? >> i think it's very, very useful for a foreigner because it's quite difficult to communicate in japan. not everyone speaks english in the streets. >> reporter: this man is from l.a. and has lived through an earthquake before. >> i've seen a lot. i worked at the medical center. i worked for the government. i've done a lot of things in the past, and this is very well organized.
in fact, it was so well organized, i couldn't leave. i had to follow it. >> reporter: not everyone is as impressed with the communication levels. >> it's just enough for giving the information that you need. >> reporter: what could be improved? >> the japanese people learn english? >> reporter: the hope is that by practicing these types of scenarios, tokyo can be ready to provide emergency help and shelter when the big one hits. kasumi goto, nhk world, tokyo. people around the world will be seeing a lot of the color known as japan blue over the next few years. it's featured in the logo for the 2020 olympics and paralympics. the blue dye comes from the
indigo plant. nhk world reports on the innovations of one of the country's traditional crafts. >> reporter: a busy street in singapore just got busier. a new store is selling japanese indigo-dyed products. the interior makes use of indigo-stained wood from tokushima prefecture. >> i thought it was japanese because of the panels. >> tokyo. >> reporter: the olympics and paralympics are coming to tokyo in 2020. the official logo features the indigo dye color known as japan blue. tokushima prefecture is thought of as the home of indigo dye. businesses hope to make the most of the olympic opportunity. >> translator: this is a once in
a lifetime chance for tokushima to spread our indigo dye tradition. we have to seize the moment and invigorate both the public and private sectors. >> reporter: a company located in the city of tokushima is already in action. it's marketing indigo dyed leather products overseas. the company headed to a trade fair in new york to show its wares, including some products made with the input of french designer elisabeth vidal. >> i can put the card of the person i'm working with at the moment. i have post-its so i can stick my post-it to it.
>> reporter: a memo stand takes advantage of another aspect of indigo dyeing, the creation of textures. >> translator: i now see that traditional japanese dyeing techniques are filled with possibilities we've never considered. we can do a lot more. >> reporter: a manufacturer of construction materials in tokushima has put indigo into housing. it's created indigo-stained lumber. the company's toshiro kohama found inspiration close to home. >> translator: we've been trying to create local products using our local resource of indigo. >> reporter: conventional indigo dyeing techniques didn't work very well on lumber, so the company looked for alternatives. it settled on using paste made from indigo dye with alkali. applying the paste directly to the lumber creates the desired effect. the color accents the wood grain. the results are finding their way into flooring and lighting. the indigo dye shop in singapore features interior design materials from the lumber company. >> translator: i want to let people know the appeal of japan blue. once they recognize its beauty, they'll begin to value the products around the world. we plan to provide information from singapore to the rest of asia and to europe. >> reporter: the indigo blue
let's get a check of the weather with our meteorologist. i hear snow. this was surprising to me. i hear snow is in the forecast for thursday. that's tomorrow japan time. is that still the case? do i need my snow boots? >> hello. i don't think we'll need snow boots for tokyo as we go into thursday, but you'll need to bundle up. you do still have a small chance of seeing flurries. that's because we have a couple of factors in the picture. we have this northerly flow that's coming in. that's bringing in plenty of cold air. we are expecting the chilly conditions to persist as we go through the rest of the week. definitely seeing snow up toward the north. we also have another factor of some wet weather coming out of shanghai. as that pushes towards the east and the low pressure system develops from there and bring the moisture, we may see that
possibility of seeing those flurries as we go throughout the day on thursday. the bigger chance for snowfall happens further north and further west as we go into thursday. for wednesday, look iing at sno. single digit highs coming up on wednesday and wet weather for fukuoka. it's expected to change with we go into thursday. i wouldn't rule out the flurries in tokyo. it's just not going to be a huge deal as we go throughout the day on thursday. by friday we're looking at temperatures rebounding for tokyo back to around 10 as we go toward tend of the end of the r. i'm going to change the story as we look at north america. notice these clouds are really well bubbled up into portions of georgia and alabama. that's because we have strong thunderstorms even in place at the moment. i want to take you over to new orleans and give you a visual
look by looking at video, give you an idea of what's taking place on the ground level. at least 27 people have been injured after the tornadoes ripped around new orleans on tuesday. thankfully, according to the mayor of new orleans there's been no reported deaths at this point. nearly 50,000 residents were without power and twister destroyed homes and vehicles while also taking down power lines. eight tornado reports were filed in the region during the day and the severe weather extended into places like tennessee leading to hail and straight line wind damage in the process. we are expecting the possibility of some additional thunderstorms as we go through the overnight period and as this area of moisture moves into the carolinas, we go into wednesday. we're looking at a marginal risk for severe thunderstorms. be on the look out for that. back toward the west we have a couple of areas of low pressure that's gripping places of the upper work. that will bring in the chance of snowfall in pacific northwest
and further toward the east as we go into wednesday. vancouver at 2. chicago at 6. . i want to trak you over there into the western portions of the country. look at this video. this is pretty impressive. it's a fire tornado that was caught on camera monday in this part of the continent. a bush fire started at 4:00 in the afternoon local time and the instability of the air led to the fire tornado but the fire was put back down and gotten rid of later on. we're looking at wet weather going forward in time. hopefully that will help to keep things a big wetter as we go forward in time. hope you have a good day where ever you are. here is your extended outlook. ♪
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