welcome to nhk world "newsline," i'm gene otani in tokyo. here's a look at some of the stories we're following this hour. japan's prime minister opens the welcome to nhk world "newsline," i'm gene otani in tokyo. here's a look at some of the stories we're following this hour. japan's prime minister opens the new session of the diet by looking ahead to a fuller economic recovery, and casting a critical eye on china. japanese government officials may open the doors to more foreign workers to help build venues for the 2020 tokyo olympics. and some grocery shoppers in
china are turning to chemical free fruits, vegetables, after several food safety scares in the country. japanese prime minister shinzo abe says his government will try to spread the benefits of the economic recovery to people across the country. he laid out his plans in a policy speech that started off the new session of the diet. abe said the three hours of his economic policy are helping the economy recover confidence lost during years of deflation. >> translator: we want to let growth in corporate earnings lead to more jobs and higher wages. that would boost consumption and lead to further economic recovery. without this, economic cycle we cannot steer the japanese economy out of deflation. >> abe said without an economic revival the nation's fiscal health cannot be restored and he stood by a pledge to achieve a surplus in the primary balance, a key measure of fiscal health,
by fiscal 2020. on the diplomatic front abe said japan will contribute to world peace and stability through his policy of pro-active pacifism, and he criticized china's establishment of an air defense identification zone over the east china sea. >> translator: we cannot tolerate attempts to change the status quo through power. we will continue to respond firmly, and calmly. >> but at the same time abe suggested he will work to improve ties with china and south korea. he said his door is always open to dialogue with china. abe noted, his government will consider a report by a panel of experts before deciding whether japan should be allowed to exercise their right to collective self-defense. successive governments have maintained that the constitution does not give the nation the right to defend allies that come under attack. abe's speech touched on nuclear power he said he will lower
japan's dependence on atomic energy as much as possible through conservation and by promoting renewable energy. >> translator: we will not resume operations at any nuclear power plant unless it clears the nuclear regulation authority's safety regulations which are the toughest in the world. >> all commercial nuclear reactors in japan are currently offline. representatives from each party will question abe about his policies for three days next week. and our senior political commentator masayo nakajima is here to give us his take on the prime minister's speech. why is prime minister abe continuing to make ending deflation, and reviving the economy, his main focus? >> well, it's simple really. abe knows many voters approve of his economic policy, dubbed abenomics. he learned from his first time in power the danger. he and five other prime ministers all left office after
roughly a year. abe wants to hang on this time. he'll face a challenge in april when the consumption tax increases to 8% from 5%. so he needs to come up with additional ways to stimulate the economy. and to protect the recovery, in case there's a drop in consumer spending. while being popular also means that abe can turn his attention to his other priorities, for example changing the constitution. >> on another subject, how significant is it that prime minister mentioned china in his speech? >> well, it's interesting when you contrast what he said today to the speech he gave this week at the world economic forum. in davos, abe spoke about the need for asian nations to follow the rule of law on the sea and in the air. he also made a call to rein in military expansion. abe didn't mention china by
name. but this time he was clearly referring to the country. in the diet, he didn't hold back. along with criticizing china on its air defense zone, he took issue with china's ships intruding into japanese waters. by saying he's open to talks, he's trying to strike a balance between being critical of china, and being conciliatory. however, his plan to possibly allow japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense could anger china and another neighbor, south korea. chinese and south korean leaders have accused abe of trying to remilitarize japan. >> we heard abe talk about nuclear power, which has obviously been a divisive issue since the fukushima accident. what's your interpretation of his stance? >> well, abe's liberal
democratic party believes that nuclear power is necessary for people's lives, and to keep the economy on track. but the prime minister supports to this issue seems to have softened somewhat. now, whenever he talks about nuclear power, he emphasizes that reactors will stay idle until regulators say they're ready to go back online. he's trying to appeal to supporters of nuclear and to people who have been on the fence about this form of energy because of the fukushima disaster. again he's keenly aware of staying popular so he can go the distance. >> masayo, thanks, as always. japan's leaders are looking at ways to avert a crisis in the construction industry. they say there won't be enough skilled workers to rebuild from
the 2011 disaster in northeastern japan, and put up the facilities for the 2020 olympic games in tokyo so they're considering easing the rules for temporary migrant workers. chief cabinet secretary suga says the government has discussed allowing foreign construction workers into the country for a limited period starting next spring. >> translator: it will be extremely important to bring in more foreign workers to fill construction jobs as soon as possible. >> the number of construction workers is followed by 1.2 million to 3.5 million since the peak in 1997. justice minister tanagaki says japan needs foreign ministers to cover a labor shortage but he warns against rushing to a decision. >> translator: allowing more foreign workers in could cause wages to drop at a time when wage hikes are a key topic of discussion.
>> the government plans to announce its decision by march. china is showing concerns about the u.s. government buying less of their own bonds. ron madison has more on this. ron? >> it certainly has been a lot of focus on what the fed will do with its bond buying operation, and the potential impact of all that on global financial markets, gene. we do know that the federal reserve is cutting back on its massive bond buying program this month, and a senior chinese government official has cautioned against the possible impact of the fed's step. >> translator: the u.s. move could become a destabilizing factor for global financial markets. it could cause withdrawal of funds from emerging economies. >> he also noted that the fed's further stimulus cutback could lead to drastic fluctuations in the yuan's exchange rate. he said china can't ignore possible future risks and added authorities will take measures to avoid those risks.
back in may last year fed chairman ben bernanke hinted at the possibility of tapering the bond program and that promised investors to shift their money out of emerging economies and back to the u.s. the exodus created greater volatility in financial markets. since then, china and other countries have been asking the fed to take financial markets in other countries into consideration in winding down its stimulus. all right let's get a check of the markets now. global investors seem to be a bit risk averse at the moment. and that's been fuelling demand for safe haven assets like the yen. the dollar fell below 103 yen sinking to a level not seen since mid-december as we can see there. strengthening quite a bit. 102.35 now. analysts say worries over the chinese economy sparked global risk aversion. investors are also nervous. they do expect the federal reserve to decide to trim its bond buying further at next week's policy meeting. these factors prompted traders to buy the yen following its recent fast-paced drop against the dollar. japanese currency is also
stronger against the euro. euro/yen right now at right around 140.21. in europe, investors are selling equities, which are seen as riskier assets. london is lower by 0.8 prs. similar losses for the frankfurt market. paris is down more than a percent at this hour. earlier in asia most markets ended lower. tokyo's nikkei declined nearly 2% rap in mainland china we did see battered shares there staging a bit of a rebound. the shanghai composite rose 0.6%. well one hot issue in japan is whether to cut corporate taxes to prop up the economy. prime minister abe pledged during the world economic forum in switzerland to bring them down as part of his tax reform program. but his finance taro aso is still a bit cautious. >> translator: i am not saying that lowering the corporate tax rates would just lead to a decline in tax revenue, and
would therefore be ineffective. but i do think a thorough study is needed. unless such a step is considered from a broader perspective, it could trigger an international tax cutting race, just like the competition to devaluate currencies. >> aso said japan must pursue both economic growth and fiscal health. he added, though, that how to strike a balance between these two goals will be a challenge. japanese carmakers are doing better these days. that has prompted workers at honda motor to seek a raise in base pay for the first time in five years. honda's labor union leaders have decided to ask for a monthly wage increase of a little over 1% beginning april. that works out to about $34. they also plan to demand bonuses worth about 5.9 months worth of pay. that would just about be the same as last year. union officials at other japanese automakers are also considering a request for salary increases. toyota's union is discussing a
demand for about $39. among other companies are mitsubishi, mazda and suzuki. the auto industry does play a leading pace-setting role in annual wage negotiations in japan. samsung electronics posted a decline in operating profit for the october to december period. that is the first quarterly drop that we've seen in two years. samsung electronics executives say the operating profit for the quarter was about 7.7 billion. that is a drop of about 6% when calculated in yen or won, rather, from a year earlier. losses from a rapid advance in the won amounted to about $650 million for that quarter alone. another factor was a fall in profit from the telecom sector, which accounts for nearly 70% of overall profit. this was due to the popularity of low-cost smartphones in the chinese market. despite a decline in quarterly profit, samsung posted a record annual sales and operating profit last year.
in fiscal 2013 sales rose 14% to $210 billion. operating profit was about $34 billion. up 27% from the previous year. and that is going to do it for biz tonight. let's get you a check of the markets now. a series of explosions in egypt has killed at least five people and wounded dozens. the attacks come ahead of the third anniversary of the start
of the democratic uprising that led to the fall of president hosni mubarak. egypt's interior ministry says a driver tried to ram his vehicle into the main police headquarters in central cairo before a gun battle broke out. the vehicle then exploded. the health ministry says four people were killed, and 76 others wounded. state media says one police officer died in another explosion near a subway station in a cairo suburb. a third blast targeted a police station near the giza pyramids. an islamic militant organization had sent a warning to police a day earlier. the muslim brotherhood and other islamic organizations are sharply at odds with the military-led interim government that was launched after the ouster of president mohamed morsi last july. supporters of both sides have accounted for nationwide demonstrations on friday to mark the third anniversary of the democratic uprising. government and opposition leaders in ukraine have failed
to strike a deal to stop the unrest that has gripped the country. protesters are still on the streets. ukrainians fear there could be more bloodshed. president viktor yanukovych and delegates from opposition parties met thursday for their second round of talks. opposition leaders are demanding next year's presidential election be held earlier. and they want the cabinet to resign. the protests began in november, after the government changed course on a trade agreement with the european union, and sought closer ties with russia. the deal was considered a prerequisite for ukraine's entry into the eu. the demonstrations took a violent turn this week after the government enacted anti-protest legislation. at least three people have died. u.s. vice president joe biden has urged president yanukovych to keep holding dialogue with the opposition to find a peaceful resolution. leaders of other western nations, including french president francois hollande are calling on ukrainian authorities
to end the crisis. a top united states military commander says the u.s. will move some marines stationed in japan's okinawa prefecture, but -- out, rather, of the country, as planned, only after japan fulfills its promise to relocate a controversial u.s. marine base to another area within okinawa. samuel locklear is the head of the u.s. pacific command. he told a news conference at the pentagon that the u.s. appreciates the japanese government's support in moving forward. their agreement to build a replacement facility for the futenma air station. last month the governor of okinawa accepted the central government's application for a landfill project necessary for the construction of the new base in nago city. locklear says building the new base means the u.s. will be able to relocate some marines in okinawa to guam and hawaii. it's believed some 9,000 troops will be moved.
>> once that happens, and that facility is built, that will allow us then the realignment of the marine forces throughout the asia pacific. >> but the recently re-elected mayor of nago inamine remains strongly opposed to the relocation project. japanese government officials say they expect a transfer of marines to begin in the first half of the 2020s. analysts say locklear's remarks suggest that any delay in the new facility's construction could affect the timing of the transfer. authorities in china have released a japan-based chinese scholar after nearly six months in custody. toyo ga kuehne professor zhu jianrong went missing on a trip to shanghai last july. china's foreign ministry hinted in september that they were
holding him. university officials confirm that zhu has been released. they say they met him in shanghai. zhu told then investigators were looking into whether he broke the law while conducting academic research in china. he says he did nothing wrong and will return to japan soon. zhu is a well-known commentator on relations between japan and china. he has appeared frequently on japanese television. japan's top government spokesperson say s south japan' aircraft have received no wavgs from military planes over the east china sea. yoshihide suga was responding to a chinese media report saying foreign military aircraft flew into the country's air defense identification zone. the report was carried by the xinhua news agency. it quotes an air force spokesperson as saying they have monitored, identified, and issued voice warnings to foreign military aircraft entering the country's air defense
identification zone. china set up the zone over the east china sea two months ago. suga says he knows of the report but that he doesn't understand what the term voice warning means. >> translator: the government is not aware of any unusual actions taken by chinese military planes flying near self-defense force aircraft. >> suga says the defense ministry would appropriately disclose any such incidents if they occur. people in china have been dealing with several food safety scandals from falsely labeled meat to contaminated milk. shoppers are now keeping a close eye on what they're eating. a popular choice is fruits and vegetables grown chemical free and several farmers are ready to meet the demand. nhk world's kuranda tago reports from beijing.
>> tomatoes of different sizes. ragged looking leeks. all grown without pesticides. all the food in this store is focused on safety. it's a small farmer's market in beijing. the prices are two to five times higher than the regular supermarket, but sales have been strong. >> translator: all the vegetables here are very good. without chemicals, i can taste a difference. chicken can make a good soup stock. i don't mind that it costs more. >> reporter: the store owner graduated in agriculture in the united states. inspired by growers markets abroad, she and her friends began three years ago to enlist farmers around beijing to grow produce naturally.
she wants to change how food producers and consumers think. she wants to work toward a new age of food safety. >> because i believe there needs to have a platform for organic producers, and consumers should meet and discuss what kind of food systems china needs to have. >> reporter: farming without pesticides requires much time and effort from the grower. so not so many farmers work without chemicals yet. xian's first step was to gather together farmers who agreed to grow vegetables naturally. getting consumers to change their ways was another challenge. once every two weeks, she organizes farm visits for shoppers. she wants them to see directly how the vegetables are grown. so they understand why prices are high.
here, they visit a strawberry field. a farmer demonstrates how he deals with spider mite pests by scattering predatory mites among them. it doesn't work as fast and isn't as cost effective as chemicals. but unlike pesticides, there's no harmful residue, and it doesn't interfere with bees' pollination. >> translator: it is very important to me to feed my children food that is safe. i always worry about residual chemicals. the vegetables here look safe. i will come here again. >> reporter: the number of farmers joining the initiative is now about 100. her efforts have become well-known through the internet, and word of mouth. as a result, similar groups are forming in areas outside beijing. >> if you look at long-term i believe this is going to be a
trend, and this is going to be a movement. it will eventually improve china's food systems. >> reporter: if the more costly natural food sells well, farmers will see their incomes rise. this should attract more growers to the movement. such a shift in attitudes could be one benefit of china's food safety crisis. kuranda tago, nhk world, beijing. warmer weather is back for the weekend. here in japan, that's according to our meteorologist robert speta. >> gene, what we're seeing out here right now is some fairly dry weather. the southwesterly winds coming in, and things are warming up. believe it or not, from flowers starting to bloom. let's start off with this video. now this is called the japanese all-spice, or the winter sweet. it's blooming about ten days
earlier, mainly due to these relatively warmer temperatures. visitors out there enjoying the scenery. i do recommend people here for the rest of at least friday into saturday get out and about, enjoy the weather, because by sunday it is going to start to cool down. we also have some rain showers working their way in from the west here. that's moving across the korean peninsula. and it's going to bring some showers out here and shift over towards japan by sunday morning, basically starting overnight saturday into sunday. and then by sunday night, looking at some snow coming out. so that is one thing you want to watch out. also a side effect, also talking about the haze out here in northeastern china. what's going to be happening is that's low's going to really mix up the atmosphere and pull a lot of this atmosphere off here toward the east and much of the korean peninsula, western japan, off toward the north, people with respiratory issues, be careful. don't overexpert yourself as you head out and about over the next
several days. meanwhile, temperatures, staying warm on saturday. shanghai high of 17. tokyo at 16. starts to cool down there by sunday, and then by monday, back below average for most of you out here sapporo minus three. a little bit of a warm-up into shanghai. but things staying relatively cooler than what they are on saturday. let's see what's going on over towards the americas. where we have, well, several storm systems. one moving across the great lakes here. this is bringing some widespread snowfall. also very gusty winds. dramatically reduced visibility for a lot of you. we just showed you that video out of chicago area, just a few hours ago. about that pileup. the car wreck that occurred because of the reduced visibility. and unfortunately you're still going to see gusty winds and heavy snowfall. that arctic air coming in from the north making things exceptionally chilly. this is not just the only hot spot. we're also looking at freezing rain down here towards houston. this is continuing to mix up and wow you're going to be looking
at some areas about 3 millimeters of ice accumulation. power outages definitely a big problem, and very slick roads. even farther north some snowfall. take a look at these temperatures. everywhere in blue you have single digits are possible, even lower than that. most of north america, you're feeling these very chilly temperatures. friday's highs in atlanta, not even reaching the freezing mark there for you. washington, d.c. minus 7. chicago at minus 4. denver, you're starting to see at least a little bit of a warm-up but then another blast of arctic air is going to come in by sunday and chill things right back off. let's see what's going on in europe as well. we have several areas we want to watch out here. one moving across the british isles. rain showers there, that's going to move over towards france, bringing the risk of flooding. this one, this is a serious one for now because in to italy you have thorpe watches, warnings in effect. that's shifting over towards the balkans. we are looking at a severe risk of flooding. winds up to about 65 kilometers per hour possible and then over
let's go to france 24's chief editor. rob, face to face talks are not taking place this friday. what is happening there and said? collects what exactly is happening is a little difficult to say. ofare operating on a vacuum information today, but it is clear that things are not going according to plan. it had planned to be a joint meeting with the two sides together and a yuan envoy. that did not happen. the parallel talks that were meant to happen during the day foiled and it had been hoped that there would be a joint meeting at the end of the day. that is clearly not going to happen. thatyria regime is saying they are putting forward demands that make it impossible to make progress, in particular, demanding that the regime recognized the communiqué of geneva