earthquake and tsunami hit their communities. it's been two and a half years. the survivors still hover fears and uncertainty as they move forward on a path to recovery. all this week we're looking at the challenges that lie ahead and what we're about to show may upset some viewers. at 2:46 p.m. on march 11th, 2011, a magnitude nine earthquake struck off japan's northeastern coast. the earthquake triggered a tsunami, ten meeters washed through towns and cities. nearly 16,000 people were killed, over 2600 people are still missing. the disaster knocked out power at the fukushima daiichi nuclear complex, causing meltdowns in three reactors. explosions followed. the plants released massive amounts of radioactive
substances. about 290,000 people are still living in temporary housing. survivors got up early in the morning to reflect on what happened and what's changed. tsunami washed away about 70,000 pine trees that used to line the coast. one known as the merico pine is the only that survived. the tree is a symbol of recovery. artisans reconstructed it in july. they made leaves and branches with plastic. it now serves as a monument. survivors in the district of the city of senda built a monument along the coast. it honors about 200 people who are swept away by the tsunami. toshohiko lost five of his relatives, including his wife and both his parents.
>> my wife was found at our house after the tsunami. it's already been two and a half year years. >> this woman lost her husband. he was among the 189 people who died in the city. she visits his grave every month and leaves things her husband cherished. >> translator: i'll never forget my husband. i feel so lonely every night. >> people who used to live near the nuclear plant have been longing to go back home and live without the threat of radiation. but the japanese government efforts to reduce radioactive contamination have been delayed. the original plan was to finish the work by the end of march 2014. officials say it will take longer than expected in seven
out of 11 municipalities. the delay is attributed to delay from residents and securing space to store radioactive debris. they plan to drop a new timetable by the year end. all the hardship started because of the nuclear accident. it triggered what some considered to be japan's worst chriss since world war ii. crews raced to reset cooling systems, but they couldn't prevent a triple meltdown. the accident was ranked level seven on the international nuclear events scale on par with chernobyl. even now, the operator of the plant, tokyo electric power company faces enormous difficulties as it lays down the groundwork to decommission the crippled reactors. >> nine months after the accident, the nap years government allows the situation of the nuclear plant was under control. government leaders unveiled
together a road map for decommissioning the reactors within three to four decades. but progress of the plant has been hampered by several serious problems. one of the most challenging ones so far, has been the leakage of contaminated water. tepco officials admitted in july, that some of the toxic water is seeping into the oth orchard. >> we sincerely apologize for causing concern to so many people. particularly those who live in fukushima. >> reporter: tepco officials estimate that every day, 800 tons of groundwater coming from nearby mountains, some of it becomes contaminated and reaches the sea. a portion of the groundwater flows into the basements of the damaged buildings. it mixes with water, used to cool the reactor cores, workers
have to pump out 400 pounds of highly toxic liquid every day. and store it on sight. tepco-workers have built 1,000 tanks to store this excess water. but some of these containers have been leaking. in august, 300 tons of highly contaminated water escaped from a tank. workers have identified several other leaks since then. the scale of the problem let prime minister abe to decide on government intervention. >> the government will work in a coordinated way. as the world is closely watching whether japan can successfully solve the problems at the plant, and decommission the reactors. >> the government plans to isolate the plants behind an
underground wall of ice. the first step will be to bury a network of pipes around the buildings. coolant at the temperature of minus 40 degrees celsius will be passed through the pipes. this will freeze the soil preventing groundwater from seeping into and out of the complex. but experts say it's unclear whether this method will succeed. it's yet to be tested for this specific purpose. and it's never been used on such a large scale. the governments of china and south korea have expressed serious concern about the impact of the leakage on the ocean. and now government officials in japan fear that this problem could delay the entire decommissioning process. noriko akada, nhk world. >> the disaster presents challenges few people had imagined. soon after the accident,
residents within a 20 kilometer radius of the plant and other zones with high levels of radiation colored red on this map, were ordered to evacuate. two and a half years later, much of the regionll the country. >> 40 kilometers from fukushima daiichi, houses the largest number of displaced residents. how have people adjusted to living there? >> reporter: it's hard to imagine what people here are exen designated as a new entry zone. authorities have reachedpericin. much of life on the surface appears to be normal. but take this town hall behind me, for instance, it's actually the municipal office for the displaced people of a town in the no entry zone. nhk got permission to go into the town in july. reporters found desserted homes and buildings, residents have only been allowed back on
special occasions with escorts and protected gear. and only for a couple hours. this is the original town hall. you can see there are still papers and files scattered everywhere. the calendar still shows the date as march 11th. it hadn't been touched since then, so it really shows how time essentially stopped after the disaster. the town hall, authorities moved to iwaki. they moved four times since the disaster. they moved here and constructed this building in june. about a quarter of the residents have moved here. and the rest are scattered across the country. the staff of the town hall have to do more than the usual municipal work, they're trying to find better housing for displaced residents and secure compensation from the nuclear plant operator, and they have to try to rebuild their own lives for people worried about radiation exposure after the
accident. town officials have set up what's called a whole body counter in this building. it's a device that basically measures radio activity inside the body, officials put it in place last month, and it's not just the people of staba that have moved here, many people who used to live near the nuclear plant have come here too. the city's population has grown by more than 23,000 since the disaster. >> that's a considerable number, catherine, how are the people dealing with the displaced people? >> reporter: well, you know, as you can imagine, it must be difficult. it was a big and sudden population increase for a small city like iwaki. most of the residents are doing what they can to accommodate the people, the evacuees coming in. but when you walk around the town, you can see problems surfacing.
the earthquake and tsunami did serious damage to iwaki's coastline. some houses had to be abandoned, others are now nothing but foundations. the city's reconstruction is still a work in progress, and it hasn't been easy to accommodate so many new people. can you see the problems right here on the streets. the traffic is often reduced to a crawl on the city's main roads. there's a housing shortage. and the hospitals are crowded. patients say waiting times have gotten longer and longer. one person said he had to wait two months to see a dentist. many who live here are wondering how long they'll have to live with the overcrowding. some are finding ways to make their new neighbors feel more at home.
iwaki native runs a vegetable shop. he lost his home to the tsunami. despite his own challenges, he now makes the rounds of the temporary housing delivery vegetables to evacuees from other towns. >> we also suffered from the disaster. so i thought we should work together. >> he's helping local shop keepers organize the city's autumn possesstival. it's one of the most anticipated events of the year for people in the community. he's been inviting evacuees to help plan the event. he says he wants iwaki people to join hands with the newcomers and push the reconstruction forward together. >> reporter: this man had a hard time fitting into the community. this is usually the case for many japanese when they move to a new town. but that's no longer the case.
>> we have to be positive. and enjoy life, because we have to keep living. with events like these we can take one step forward. >> reporter: he has a reason to be hopeful. he met and married an evacuee, they had their first child last mon month. >> translator: we have to work together to overcome our challenges. i might not have met new friends if it weren't for this disaster. >> reporter: people all over fukushima are still trying to t ongoing problems at the nuclear plant are brought under
catherine. she will be joining us throughout the day with live reports from fukushima. here's other news making headlines this tsunami and the nuclear disaster. many who have fled their homes are trying thour. u.s. president barack obama is going over his notes, in about an hour, he'll make a televised address explaining his case for a military strike on syria. russian president vladimir putin has urged obama to drop his plan before western leaders ask the syrians to surrender their chemical weapons. russian leaders have proposed that the syrians put such weapons under international control. putin said it will be a good step toward a peaceful resolution of the crisis. he said it will be difficult for syrian forces to disarm while they're facing military action. obama says the syrians have made no moves in the past to surrender their stockpile of chemical weapons.
he says u.s. forces will stand ready for action. u.s. secretary of state, john kerry has been supporting obama's arguments in discussions at home and abroad. he is scheduled to meet in geneva on thursday with russian foreign minister. they're expected to discuss the russian proposal. syrian leaders have been discussing the proposal. the prime minister has reportedly accepted it. state run television carried a statement from the prime minister. he said syrian leaders have accepted the suggestion to avoid any more conflict in the region. leaders of the main opposition group are criticizing the proposal. the proposal is deceptive, if ado adopted, it would allow syrian president bashar al assad to avoid air strikes. members of the national coalition are dion madding military action. and they want western forces to
establish a no fly zone over syria. he said he and other opposition leaders will keep pushing for a strike. on to the latest news in business. if you don't own a smart phone already, and if you do, you may be eyeing the new iphones that apple just unveiled. >> you won't be able to get your hands on it for at least another week and a half. i can assure you iphone fans around the world are already reading up on the specs of apple's new offerings. the firms officials have unveiled two new models of their smart phone. >> we're going to replace it with not one, but two new designs. >> the iphone 5s is a high end version that can process data at twice the speed of the previous
model. the device has a new security feature, a fingerprint scanner. users can expect to pay about $199 for it. the other new iphone called the 5c will be about half the price of a 5s, the body is made of plastic. apple officials say they'll start selling the new smart phones in nine countries starting next friday. markets include the u.s., japan and china. industry watchers have their eye on whether apple will be able to reign in the popularity of units running google's android operating system. analysts at u.s. research firm idc say south korea's samsung electronics held the market share of over 30% in the april to june period with its android based smart phones. apple's share was much lower at just over 13%. >> u.s. stock prices rose on tuesday as hopes for a diplomatic solution in syria
filtered through global markets. the dow jones rose 8/10 of a% to 15,191 and the nasdaq rose 6/10 of a% to 3,729. now to see how stocks here are being affected, we go to our very own meligard standing by at the tokyo stock exchange. tokyo stocks extended gains yesterday. how did they open this wednesday morning. >> we're seeing a positive start. here in tokyo, you can see there the nikkei output, 3/10 of a% there, the toppism up. the nikkei really continuing its upward trend so far for september. one big factor in the last 24 hours has been the developments regarding syria. where diplomatic solution as you
mentioned there, seems to be coming into place, instead of a military strike. that's going to be a big focus for financial markets. we'll keep focus on that as well, throughout the day. let's get back to economics and fundamentals, of course, data out of china, has been a big focus at the tail end of yesterday's session here in tokyo, we did get some pretty strong numbers out of china. industrial production as you can see on the screen there. rising 10.4%. we had retail sales, which was up 13.4% from a year ago. and, of course, let's not forget the news coming from apple. shares of apple in the u.s. traded lower by just over 2%. we're going to get reaction here from component makers and companies that make apple products. >> following the political and economic news that you mentioned, seems to affect the currency markets has been quite strong? >> yeah, definitely.
and you just have to look at the dollar/yen right now, as it's coming up there, 100.24 to 29, investors selling the yen in anticipation of risk off trend in global markets. concerns about syria abating a touch. now, data out of china shows they may push forward with his economic policy. here we are at the bottom of the screen. 133 to 05 on the offer side. euro is gaining by investors on the hopes of revitalized eurozone economy. pretty positive start here. and we're seeing the fluctuations in the currency markets as well. we'll see how that continues, and, of course, we'll keep track of china related shares and apple product related shares throughout the session. back to you. >> thanks for that update. new car sales in china increased more than 10% in
august year on year. the first double-digit growth in two months. officials at the china association of automobile manufacturers say total vehicle sales including trucks and buses stood at more than 1.6 million units in august. this was up 10.3% from the same month last year. japanese automakers were affected by worsening relations between japan and china. their sales fell by 9.3% year on year to about 200,000 units. but u.s. automakers saw a rise of 18%. sales of german vehicles jumped by nearly 15 and a half%. >> that's the latest in business news, i'll leave you with a check on markets.
up next, world weather forecast. >> thanks. it's drizzling outside the studio here in tokyo. other than that, it stays dry across much of japan. georgia weather to go out. similarly dry across northern parts of china. however, a line of thundershowers align from southern parts of china up into the korean peninsula, bringing localized heavy rain and thunderstorms. many lightning strikes reported in south korea early this morning, remaining the stormy side throughout the day, and a different one is causing a rainfall for the border of northeast and parts of china and russia. bringing the potential for floods even further. >> tokyo looking at 29 degrees,
with partly sunny skies. but 32 now, i want to show you this, beautiful scene coming out of the city. >> the ears of red rise plums have started to turn red. naturalers began planting red rice to begin vitalizing their community. many see the beautiful scenery at this time of year. the long spill of rain delayed the change of color for about a week. 32 degrees, summer has not completely gone yet. >> across the americas we've been watching a tropical storm that is gabrielle, it has just reemerged. it's producing some surf as well as strong winds to bermuda, we have tropical thunderstorm warnings in place at this moment. the system will move over or near the island in the next few hours as a tropical storm, and
then head toward the north. probably hitting nova scotia on friday or saturday local time. we'll keep updating you on the storm's progress. as for the continent, a victim of high pressure is keeping things dry, and very hot across the east. and flooding rain once again for the four corners region. it could increase the risks for flooding and landslide. there's a risk of severe weather over the great lakes region and southeastern canada. as for temperatures, once again, very high across the east. 33 in new york city, that's about 10 degrees higher than seasonal. 34 in washington, d.c.. 36 degrees in dallas. and a slick side of the continent heating up in seattle at 32 with an abundance of sunshine. finally, there are three distinctive features, dry and hot across much of the iberian peninsula. turning wet and cooler across
the british isles. and unstable weather for the continent. the most severe weather is going to be found from germany into the baltic state. the system will likely linger across this location throughout the day, and again turning cooler across the british isles, with incoming low pressure system, not too bad on wednesday, however, turning very chilly on your friday, you may want to wear one more layer of a jacket as we go into your friday. for example, only 13 degrees for you on the last day of the workweek. and 15 degrees for manchester. here's your extended forecast around the globe.
about 290,000 people are still living away from their homes. spokespersons for the national police agency say nearly 16,000 people died in the disaster. more than 2,600 are missing. more than 2,600 got sick and died after they left their homes. evacuees from the hardest hit prefectures are living in temporary housing or rented apartments. workers have not been able to keep up with the demand for public housing for those who are displaced. only 1.6% of the planned units in the three prefectures have been completed. >> that concludes this edition of newsline. thank you for joining us.