here in japan it's 7:00 p.m. on a tuesday. i'm james tengan. welcome to "newsline." we start with a quick look at the hour's top stories. easing limits. japan's cabinet has approved a bill that would shorten the waiting period for women between divorce and remarriage. the slowdown continues. officials in beijing say in february china's trade with the rest of the world was down more than 20% from a year earlier.
and teaching readiness. ahead of the fifth anniversary of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, one japanese man visited taiwan with an important message. the japanese cabinet has approved a bill that would shorten time women must wait before they remarry. it would amend a century-old provision in the civic code that critics say unfairly limits women's freedom. ministers approved the bill on tuesday at a cabinet meeting. women in japan must wait six months after divorce before remarrying. if the bill passes the period would be reduced to 1 d00 days principle. the proposed legislation is in line with the supreme court ruling in december. the court said a period of more than 100 days is excessive and unconstitutional. the ban was originally aimed at preventing paternity disputes but critics point out that dna testing is available now so the rule is outdated. the bill would likely make it
possible for many women to remarry without waiting the full 100 days. it says if a doctor certifies that a woman is not pregnant at the time of divorce, she would be exempt from the 100-day rule. japan's justice minister spoke to reporters after the cabinet meeting. >> translator: the civil code affects people's lives. we need to rectify this unconstitutional situation as soon as possible. >> the government plans to submit the bill to lawmakers during the current session of the diet. before the cabinet's decision, a united nations committee urged the japanese government to quickly revise the civil code provision, deeming it discriminatory against women. the u.n. committee on the elimination of discrimination against women released a report on monday about the issue. it says the court's ruling still doesn't change the fact that the article puts restrictions only on women.
the report also takes issue with a provision requiring married couples to use the same surname. japan's supreme court found the article constitutional last year. but the u.n. report says that in practice, it compels women to take their husbands' names. it said the provision should be changed. the committee also made some suggestions to japan on a deal it reached with south korea on the wartime issue of those referred to as comfort women. it says japan needs to fully consider the victims' views when it implements the accord. >> we have taken note of the agreement and we found that the issues concerning comfort women from the point of view of victim-oriented approach has not been fully taken into account. >> last month a japanese official discussed the agreement at the committee. in response, it released its observations on monday. it includes a call for japanese
leaders and officials to stop making disparaging statements regarding responsibility over the issue and to adequately integrate the issue of comfort women in textbooks. foreign ministers from japan and south korea reached the deal last december. they agreed it would resolve the issue finally and irreversibly. on tuesday, japan's top government spokesperson rejected the committee's opinion. >> translator: u.n. secretary-general ban ki-moon, the united states, and britain all welcome the agreement. there is a big difference between the u.n. committee's views and such response from the international community to the agreement. i think the committee's criticism is really off the mark. >> suga added that japan has lodged a protest against the u.n. over the committee's advice. number crunchers in japan's cabinet office say the economy didn't do as badly in the last quarter as they thought. gene otani has the details on that and all the other business
headlines. r japan's economy contracted from october to december but less than what officials said earlier. they say growth in corporate investment was better than predicted. they revised that figure up from 1.4% to 1.5% and they say exports improved too to minus 0.8%. housing investment was unchanged at minus 1.2%. economic revitalization minister says the revised figures reflect a bearish tendency in consumption but expressed optimism on the economy. >> translator: we're seeing improvements in corporate earnings, employment and income. we recognize that the fundamentals of japan's real economy remain sound.
>> ishihara said he's looking to connect increased corporate earnings to higher wages and more capital investment. prime minister shinzo abe plans to seek the advice of noble laureate joseph stiglitz and other economic experts in preparations to host the group of 7 summit in may. abe has about five sessions planned with the top economist. the meetings are to help the prime minister lead g7 discussions at a time of global financial market turmoil. government officials are trying to arrange for stiglitz to attend the first session on march 16th. he's a professor at columbia university. the guest list for the next day includes kazumasa iwate, a former bank of japan deputy governor, and harvard university professor dale jorgensen. the lawmakers from both the ruling party and the opposition are speculating that abe may have another objective. they are wondering if he may use the advice of experts to justify a postponement of a planned consumption tax hike in april next year.
weak demand continues to slow growth in the world's second-largest economy. china's total trade in february came in under $220 billion, a drop of more than 20% from a year earlier. customs authorities say exports were down more than 25% from a year ago. shipments of smartphones, clothes and shoes to the u.s. and europe all declined. imports were down by nearly 14%, largely due to weak sales of auto and plastic-related products. china's overall trade shrank in 2015, the first time that's happened in six years. premier li chan told the national people's congress the government will stabilize and improve trade this year but he didn't offer a numerical target. checking on the markets, tokyo stocks fell for a second day as the higher yen weighed on investors' sentiment. for the details we go to the tokyo stock exchange. >> many asian markets slipped on
concerns over china. trade data was disappointing and that's adding a bit of uncertainty as we head into upcoming central bank meetings. in tokyo the stronger yen dragged on share prices. so let's check the closing levels this tuesday, march 8th. the nikkei fell .75%, closing at 16,783. the broader topix slipped 1%. power companies led the declines on the nikkei ahead of plans for market liberalization in the utility sector next month. chubu, tokyo, and kansai electric power company all trading lower. toshiba underperformed, sliding 7%. media reports say the scandal-plagued company could announce a bidder for its medical unit on wednesday. the sale is part of its plan to raise funds for its restructuring efforts. and soft bank group rose 1.7% after the telecom group announced a reorganization plan
that would split its very profitable domestic business from its overseas operations. that's seen as an effort to boost shareholder value. a bit of a cloud hanging over the nikkei and the topix as the yen remains strong. other markets in the asia pa risk region, the shanghai composite finishing at 2901, up .14%. the index was trading lower for most of the day on taking in the weak trade data but managed to extend its winning streak to six days. take a look at sydney subpoena asx200, declining by .7%, 5107. the surge in iron ore prices gave an initial boost to the commodity-sensitive index but it dipped as some traders locked in profits. hong kong's hang seng index, take a look.
it slid by .7% on the chinese trade figures. south korea's kospi dropped by 0.6%. here's a look at some of the other business stories we're following today. officials at japan's finance ministry say the current account balance in january was in the black with a surplus of $4.6 billion. they also say the tourism boom boosted travel account surplus which reached $1.2 billion, the largest monthly figure in 20 years. the latest economy watchers index for japan fell by 2 points from january to 44.6. reading under 50 suggests more people are pessimistic about business conditions. this survey measures the mood of workers who directly serve consumers. some said people are spending less as stock prices fall. japan's welfare ministry says it will be more open about how to invest money from its more than $1 trillion public
pension fund. minister shiozaki has announced a plan to make the details public. he says the government plans to release the details of the fund's stock holdings after a certain period of time has passed. an uncertain economy has some japanese consumers becoming savvier in their spending. in this next report, how companies are giving customers greater value for their yen. >> reporter: this soba noodle chain has over 100 shops in the tokyo area. last july the company launched a special offer for people who want to stop by for a bite to eat and a quick drink after work without going broke. >> translator: this special costs about $5. this is about $1. so even if i order another beer for $2, the whole thing only comes to about $8. i come here when i don't feel like going straight home.
>> translator: here's your beer. >> reporter: after launching the offer the shop sold six times more alcohol in one month than in the same period the previous year. a convenience store in a business district also caters to people who want to quench their thirst if a high pressure hurry. the store carries 200 kinds of alcoholic beverages and a variety of snacks. this man bought a can of beer and some canned mackerel. each can of beer comes with a chilled glass. >> translator: here you are. >> reporter: the mackerel is warmed and served in a dish. >> translator: both the price and quality are reasonable. >> reporter: the company aims to attract additional customers who want to drink in more casual
surroundings than a bar or pub. >> translator: there's more demand for this than we expected. we'll increase the number of outlets and try to learn more about what our customers want. >> reporter: another business is trying to help consumers avoid spending too much on more expensive items. it's an online clothing rental service for women. for around $60 a month, customers receive the services of a professional fashion stylist. the user registers information such as age, sizes, and favorite colors. the stylist then sends the customer three clothing items based on the information. the items can be replaced as often as the customer wishes. tens of thousands of items are available from more than 200 brands. the items range in price from around $90 to $450. since the service started over a year ago, more than 70,000
people have signed up. >> translator: we believe that people will become eager to keep their spending under control. consumers will probably be more focused on paying only for what they value most. >> reporter: low prices are no longer enough to lure japanese consumers. they want products that also satisfy their needs. capitalizing on that trend will be the key to business success. that's it for business news. i'm going to leave you with the markets.
saudi arabia and its allies are holding the largest ever joint exercise for its region. the anti-terrorism drills are aimed at stamping out militant groups, including islamic state. the exercise started last month in king khalid military city in the north of the country. 120,000 people from 20 islamic countries are taking part. the saudi defense ministry provided media access on monday. riyadh is taking on a central role. the brigadier general stressed the aim of the exercise at a news conference. >> the message we want to address is that we will work as countries to protect our national security, to protect our borders, our interests.
>> he criticized iran saying the country is supporting militia in neighboring countries and meddling in other countries' internal affairs. ♪ after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, many people in taiwan decided they wanted to help so they sent more than $180 million in donations for disaster relief. ahead of the fifth anniversary of the disaster, a japanese man visited taiwan with a message of thanks and a memory of a lost loved one. . >> reporter: it's now an annual event. japanese students studying in taipei giving thanks to people in taiwan for helping in their time of need. every year students gather on the anniversary of the disaster
to give updates on rebuilding efforts. they also pass on messages of thanks from people back in japan. it's kozo ono's first time here. he's a teacher at an elementary school in miyagi prefecture. much of his hometown was destroyed by the tsunami. his focus is on disaster prevention education. the past five years have been tough on him. a year ago, he lost his eldest daughter ai. she was studying in taiwan when she died from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in her apartment. she was 20 years old. this is a video of ai in 2014 at
the same event her father is visiting today. ai was on the organizing committee back then. as a person from a disaster-hit region, she was interested in helping with exchanges between japan and taiwan. ono decided to visit taiwan this year in memory of his daughter. >> translator: i have come to taiwan, which my daughter loved. she did her best, and i remember her with pride. she followed what she believed. i believe it's important to support the thank you taiwan event. >> translator: to avoid a repeat of families' grief over their loved ones, what should we do?
>> reporter: at the event, he read a story by a family that lost loved ones in the 2011 disaster. the story underscored need to be prepared when disaster strikes. >> translator: iblackns approac. that wall was the tsunami. >> translator: i was very moved. when it's made into a picture book for children to read, i think it's aieasier for them to understand about disaster prevention. >> reporter: ono has also been active collecting donations for victims of an earthquake which occurred last month in southern taiwan, killing 117 people. in part, he wants to help pay back the people of taiwan for the kindness they showed japan.
but he also helps out because of of his daughter. >> translator: when a disaster hits somewhere, there should be something i can do. i cannot ignore it. so i am up to the challenge. i think my daughter is surely happy about what i'm doing. >> reporter: and that is what keeps him going these days, knowing that his daughter would approve of his efforts. so he will continue to teach disaster preparedness, knowing all too well that life can change in an instant. >> heartwrenching yet inspiring. in the weeks following the disaster, leaders around the world sent emergency relief teams to japan. now one of the people who flew in to provide medical aid looks back on those days.
lieutenant colonel bar cohen was part of an emergency relief team. he says one of the biggest challenges they faced was fear of radiation exposure from the accidents at the fukushima daiichi nuclear plants. >> we measured ourselves each day. and we had a procedure what to do if, for example, another event will occur. but in our profession, we're taking risks. >> the medical unit provided help at a makeshift clinic. cohen says it was hard to see the sadness in people's faces but he says he was impressed by the strength they showed. >> they understood what happened and they fought not to weep about it, not to cry about it, and hope they will find the
strength to get from this -- from that event and come back to what they'd been before. >> you can find more of these reports on our special website. we've posted stories about of disaster-hit region from the last five years. march 11th, 2011. an earthquake strikes japan setting off a catastrophic chain reaction. towering tsunami waves devastate the northeast coast. a nuclear plant is sent spiraling out of control. five years on, survivors are rebuilding their lives and learning lessons from the tragedy. but there's still a long way to go. "journey from disaster." stories of resilience and remembrance right here on "newsline." >> don't miss the special reports here on nhk world. moving on to weather in drought-stricken california when it rains it pours as sayaka mori
tellss in this hour's weather update. >> during el nino, more disturbances form over the eastern areas of the pacific. the more rain falling across california this year and last year are not the exceptions. heavy rain has been causing numerous problems. and at the same time death valley is seeing a beautiful sight. take a look at this video from the valley. an unusually dense display of wild flowers has brought color and life to death valley national park. the u.s. national park service says this is the best bloom in a decade. the super bloom of flowers was triggered by a series of storms in october. death valley is the hottest place on earth and receives on average 5 centimeters of rain each year, making it difficult for most plants to survive. and about 90 millimeters of rain fell in just five hours in december. so we are looking at a very beautiful sight across the death valley area. tuesday will be a calm day across california. but things will change on thursday as well as friday. more rain is expected.
meanwhile, heavy rain is falling across the mid portions of the united states. there is a threat of a severe thunderstorm, large hail, and even tornados on tuesday across the southern plains. watch out for the severe weather. and then there's a possibility of freezing rainfall across ontario and quebec. so treacherous road conditions could happen. temperatures are going to be may-like across the east. washington, d.c. at 23 expected on tuesday. 17 degrees in new york on your tuesday. and things will be warming up into wednesday as well as thursday across the northeast. typically weather is gorgeous across honolulu but things will change on tuesday. a cold front will move through the area, so we will see some widespread rainfall across the hawaiian islands but it's going to be moving away by your wednesday. air quality will improve on weesday acss honolu so you n enjoy oler sun skies. across t middle st, unusually heavy rain is expected
to fall across the area such as oman, uae, as well as south of iran this week. heavy rain will likely cause flooding across these areas. as you can see rain will likely persist into wednesday, thursday, as well as friday. across japan it is a very warm day across many portions of the country. the mercury hit 20.1 degrees. 8 degrees in the tokyo area. that is more like late april. then a high of 26.5 degrees, that is more like early june. today is warm. however, as we go into tomorrow things will be changing dramatically. there's a low pressure system affecting much of the southern portions of china. actually, this system caused about 320 millimeters of rainfall in 24 hours in sichuan province. this system will likely make its way towards japan. and as it does so, this will drag very cold air
from the north so temperatures will drop significantly. as you can see tokyo's high will be 13 degrees on wednesday. that's 7 degrees difference between tuesday as well as wednesday. and cooling down to 8 degrees on your thursday. so winter will come back once again and across bangkok, 35 expected on wednesday. and singapore 33 degrees with a chance of a thunderstorm. you may be able to see a solar eclipse on wednesday morning. here's your extended forecast.
genie: you are watching "france 24," live around the world. i am genie godula. these are the headlines. and turkey moved closer to a breakthrough on the migrant crisis. key points include the return of all new migrants crossing from and the resettling of syrian refugees on a one-to-one basis. two years to the day after flight mh370 went missing without a trace, the