welcome to "newsline." i'm keikichi hanada. here are some of the stories we are following this hour. japanese leaders are working around the clock and reaching out to their counterparts around the world for help freeing two nationals believed to be captured by islamic state. a spokesperson for islamic state says they are monitoring the government's moves and urging them to meet their demands. and sharing the warmth.
a group of south koreans are helping to fill homes during the winter months with heat. japanese government leaders on a race against time. they are using all resources available to try to have two nationals believed to be captured by islamic state released. they're stressing to the militant group that millions of military aid promised to the middle east is solely for humanitarian purposes. >> translator: we will use the trust and all the channels we have cultivated in the middle east. we will try every means available. >> the video released on tuesday shows two men who are believed to be freelance journalists kenji goto and haruna yukawa. a purported islamic state member threatens to kill them unless the japanese government pays a ransom of $200 million within 72 hours. officials in tokyo assume the
deadline is around 2:50 p.m. japan time on friday. state minister for foreign affairs yasuhide nakayama is taking charge of a task force based at the japanese embassy in jordan. he met on wednesday with king abdullah. and the king gave his readiness to cooperate fully. an islamic state spokesperson is pressing the japanese government to meet the demand before the deadline. nhk exchanged online messages with the representative on wednesday. the man said he's aware that state minister for foreign affairs, yasuhide nakayama was sent to jordan. analysts say it suggests the group is closely watching the situation. the man wouldn't say if they have been in contact with the japanese government but he said islamic state will achieve what it wants to do. and he reiterated that the militant group is not motivated by money alone.
the wife of one of the two men being held captive has been contacted by what's believed to be members of islamic state. a source told nhk that people affiliated with the militant group have sent her several e-mails. the wife of kenji goto has been receiving messages since november. the source says the first message only said islamic state had captured the japanese journalist with no mention of a threat to kill him. and militants revealed information only known to goto and his family. she received a ransom note earlier this month demanding more than $17 million. sources say the messages resemble e-mails sent by the group in other hostage takings. goto left japan on october 22nd with plans to enter syria. he went missing about three days later.
kenji got has filed stories from many war zones. he has filed many stories about children caught up in conflicts. goto visits this junior high school in tokyo every year to talk about his work. he's inspired many students. [ speaking foreign language ]. goto has published five books, including one that's set in afghanistan. he spent a year following the story of a 10-year-old girl who was deprived of education through war and poverty. goto wrote in his book that he believes children are the only hope for afghanistan's future. and he said the international community should do whatever it can to help them. goto has also been involved with the japan committee for unicef.
he sent this photo three years ago from a refugee camp in jordan. he wrote in an attached message "these children, too, deserve christmas presents." >> translator: goto's priority was displaced children. he believed very strongly in this issue. >> the unicef official says he is also praying for goto's safe return. prime minister david cameron has offered britain's full support in efforts to bring the two japanese hostages home. cameron met with japan's foreign minister fumio kishida at the british parliament on wednesday. they spoke for about ten minutes. kishida described the hostage taking as unforgivable. he said japan will not bowe to terrorism and will keep contributing to the global fight against terrorism. he asked that britain share any information that would help secure the release of the hostages.
kishida later made a similar request over the phone to iran's foreign minister zaf zaf he described them as a threat to the middle east and islamic -- international community. he promised iran's full support in resolving the crisis quickly. foreign and defense ministers of japan and britain have agreed to work together to strengthen counterterrorism measures. kishida and defense minister gen nakatani met with philip hammond and defense secretary michael fallen. >> we have a huge number of areas to discuss today not least the challenge of international terrorism of which we are all reminded particularly by the hostage incident. >> the two ministers also
expressed their readiness to cooperate with japan to help resolve the hostage crisis. >> translator: we hope to share information on the background of the hostage taking. the perpetrators, and the captives. and information that will determine conditions in the future. >> the ministers agreed to work for only conclusion of a pact of the japanese self-defense forces and the british ministry to provide each other with fuel and water in a disaster. andthy will also work together on defense equipment and missile technology. china's premier paid a visit to the world economic forum in davo switzerland where he expressed a bit of possess mitchell about the country's economy. ai uchida joins us with the
details. >> he may have cause for pes mississippiem. he said that china's economy may face downward pressure in 2015. li said the situation in his country is part of a global slow down that is hurting chinese exports. but he said china will swift gears without losing momentum. li said china will reach that goal by continuing to implement structural reforms and improve efficiency. now let's check on markets for this thursday morning. investors are cautious ahead of the key european central bank meeting later in the day. they are expecting policymakers there will announce plans to buy government bonds to reverse the trend toward deflation and stlugish economic growth.
let's go to ramin mellegard who has an update on the latest moves. what can you tell us? >> with investors waiting for that meeting the tone of the markets has been a little bit mixed. the nikkei was trading in and out of positive and negative territory. but let's look it the closing levels 17,262 down .10%. and the topix down almost a half percent. the mixed reception for the exporters as the dollar bounced up and down. so some of the big exporter names were trading lower. i was tracking the likes of bridgestone, canon as well as mazda. toyota trading lower as car makers says it expects slower sales this year due to sluggish sales domestically. toyota down .5%. sony was a focus but bucking the trend after it announced early
retirement plans for some of its work force and investors took that as a positive that sony would restructure its business. sony up .2%. with all eyes on the ecb meeting a lot of eyes on currency trading. starting with the dollar/yen. 118.25-27. and it's been trading in a bit of a range here. slightly higher than earlier but not such a big move. the euro is a touch stronger against the dollar. briefly hitting a one-week high against the dollar. let's have a quick look at asian indexes as well. the shanghai composite getting focus earlier. it is down .5% after having posted its biggest one day gain in five years. so tokyo and shanghai underperforming somewhat and that's all for me. back to you. >> thanks a lot for that update.
president barack obama has called on congress to finalize the transpacific partnership
free trade deal. he made the appeal in the state of the union address. >> china wants to write the rules for the world's fastest growing region. that would put our workers and our businesses at a disadvantage. why would we let that happen? we should write those rules. we should level the playing field. that's why i'm asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect american workers with strong new trade deals from asia to europe that aren't just free but are also fair. >> u.s. trade representative michael froman spoke in washington the day after obama's speech. >> we look to congress to pass bipartisan trade authority. it's clear that administration and congress are on the same page in negotiating high standards in our trade agreements. >> froman said this conclusion of the deal is now in sight.
he said that other participating countries must be able to trust the u.s. experts have said that other participants, including japan, will not finalize the deal until the u.s. government has stronger negotiating authority. japanese leaders want to spark the economy. but they have a demographics problem. japan has a low birthrate and aging society. they are looking at robots and drones. drones and industrial automation could soon do some of the work the people do. the government will look into using drones to survey the condition of roads and bridges. that's something humans do now. to fully automate factory production lines, the government will team up with japanese businesses and universities to set international standards for technology. they want to catch up with germany and the u.s., the current leaders in this technology. a public/private partnership is planning to invest $850 million
in robot-related projects over the next five years. it aims to expand the robot market four fold to $20 billion. last year, fewer new condominiums went on the market in the greater tokyo area than the previous year. experts say the decline is the result of the consumption tax hike last april. the real estate economic institute says about 44,900 new condo units went on the market in 2014. that's in tokyo and in three neighboring prefectures. and that's down 20.5% from 2013. still in december the number of new condo units for sale in the area increased year on year for the first time in 11 months. the institute says more than 9,300 units went on the mark in the area last month. that's an increase of more than 13% from a year ago. researchers say high-rise condos in the tokyo bay area and suburban units accounted for most of the growth. despite the december figures,
experts forecast that rising construction costs will put a damper on growth. they say the total number of units hitting the market in 2015 will be about the same as last year. magazine publishers in japan are dealing with big changes to their business. they've seen sales of traditional publications drop by 60% over the past two decades. so they are making the shift to the electronic realm. nhk world's miho achiwa reports. >> reporter: when it comes to fashion, many young people use smartphones and tablet computers instead of versional magazines to get information on the latest trends. >> translator: i can easily get information through my smartphone. >> translator: a magazine is too big to carry around. >> reporter: at this beauty salon --
>> translator: what kind of style would you like? >> reporter: hair dressers now use tablets instead of magazines to show their customers a range of hair styles. >> translator: we can see the latest hair styles online. they're easy to look through because you can scroll the screen. >> reporter: hearst -- is a japanese subsidiary of world-leading media firm, hearst corporation. in addition to its printed magazines, the company is strengthening its publication of e-magazines. >> translator: we have to redo everything with e-magazines, font size, layout and content order. >> reporter: some e-magazines in japan are based on established printed titles. often the layout is just the same as the original magazine. but here, it's been changed for
the smartphone. simply by tapping the screen, users can get product information on items they're interested in. major publisher -- has launched a new web magazine that's not based on a printed title. the firm put the wave fashion magazine for women straight online this month. it's also the first time for the publisher to employ a chief editor from outside the company. naoka osuka's books are popular among women in their 30s and 40s. >> you can read an e-magazine any time you want and you can take part by sharing information with your friends. >> reporter: with e-magazine,
the publisher can also respond to the reader's questions immediately. the publisher also makes and uploads videos. the chief editor shows how to wear certain items with style. this can be hard to do in still photos. >> translator: ready? go. >> translator: when you tie the belt, keep the side with the buckle shorter than the other side. >> translator: lifestyles have changed. it's almost as if a publisher doesn't exist if it doesn't have an active online presence. >> reporter: companies with expertise in printed publications are having to rethink their strategies to ensure using their products online is convenient and attractive. miho achiwa, nhk world, tokyo.
people who can't afford them during the winter months and they're helping to ensure that everyone stays warm. more from nhk world's kim chan-ju. >> reporter: the thermometer indicates it is currently minus 5 degrees and with wind chills it feels much much colder. and as you can see, volunteers are busy delivering coal briquettes in this freezing winter weather to low-income residents. many low-income people live in this area of northern seoul. today, about 70 volunteers participated in the delivery program. >> translator: it's cold and my face gets black. it's tough, but i participate every year with my friends from work. >> reporter: one person leads
this project. he says coal briquettes reminds people of the old days. >> translator: when the country was poor most people used coal briquettes to get through the cold winter. >> reporter: won launched this project for coal briquette for neighborhoods in 2004. it started as a local program with about 400 participants in a district on seoul's outskirts. the media and websites reported on the project. eventually it grew into a nationwide program. operation costs are covered by donation from the general public. one man was motivated by an experience he had in his 30s. he was a labor consultant on issues involving coal miners. he said some are freezing and almost dying from the cold. they were really happy when he gave them coal briquettes.
>> translator: the program is now so large that it has around 50,000 volunteers and a striking number are young. it's a good opportunity for experiences and learning the spirit of sharing. >> reporter: this winter the volunteers include mourning family members lost in the sewol ferry last april. one is --. his 16-year-old son died in the tragedy. >> translator: we received a lot of support from other people. that's why i'm taking part in this initiative. >> reporter: some mourners gave briquettes to an old man still suffering from a traffic accident four years ago. it left him physically disabled. as he cannot work he has a hard time making ends meet. >> translator: i have a hard
time getting by but young people come by to help. that energizes me. i'm almost crying with joy. >> reporter: coal brick yets are being delivered to a total of 200,000 households across south korea this winter. every year won receives many letters of gratitude. for the past 11 years, they have motivated him to keep the program going. coal briquettes are not only a way of the keeping warm by a symbol of sharing. kim chan-ju, nhk world, seoul. it's time for a check of the weather. it's rainy season in bolivia and people there are dealing with severe floods. mai shoji joins us with the details. >> some parts of the world are dealing with the rainy season right now and it's full on across bolivia as we speak.
take a look at an image from there. there is some severe flooding going on. it continued in central bolivia today. at least 15 people have died. and thousands of hectares of crops have been lost after weeks of heavy rains. in the hardest hit areas, residents are forced to wade through the flood waters. firefighters have been evacuating children and elderlies using small boats. just last year in 2014 deadly floods hit the same area, killing at least 60 people. these areas are used to the rainy season and heavy rains. but too much is causing these situation and i'm afraid to tell you that the situation is not going to ease. there is no improvement because the rain will continue starting thursday afternoon hours. and more rain in the northern locations here as well. already about 300 millimeters of rain has been falling in the past seven days. so any additional rainfall could trigger further flooding.
across here in north america we have snow to talk about. and that's going to be piling up as much as 40 centimeters across the four corners region. and that's descending into northwestern texas. even texas will see 20 centimeters of heavy snowfall and that is combined with gusts reechg 60 kilometers per hour. so blowing snow conditions will certainly reduce the visibility. very dangerous for driving. and you can see very heavy rainfall in houston today as well. also, snow will be piling up in the new england states across new york and d.c. we're going to be seeing about 4 centimeters of snow pile up which is likely to disturb traffic. out to the west, los angeles and some areas in california are reaching summer-like temperatures at 25 in los angeles with plenty of sunshine. in the pacific northwest we are likely to see coastal rainfall and snow up to 15 centimeters.
out here in europe now, very messy again in the meds. we are likely to see thunderstorms in the western balkan again with potential of very strong gusts. large hail the size of 4 centimeters is likely. and tornadic activity cannot be ruled out. in fact, this has a history of spawning waterspouts in and around greece. excessive precipitation and thunderstorms are all in store for us too. the snow is also going to be falling across french alps. about 15 centimeters of additional snowfall could lead to avalanche. london you saw a little bit of that snow and sleet yesterday. we may see icy road conditions. your morning lows will be falling down to the freezing point. just 4 for your high. out here across japan, the winter pressure pattern is quite strong but it's more toward the south that we are worried of with the heavy rainfall. this has produced 60 millimeters of rainfall in 24 hours. and 70 kilometers per hour winds have been reported in and around
kochi prefecture. that system will be moving parallel to the pacific side and we have more inland snowfall across the backbone mountains of japan. just 6 degrees for the high with freezing rain. not a great day to be venturing outdoors here in tokyo on our thursday. i'll leave you now for our forecast.
good evening from los angeles. i'm tavis smiley. earlier this evening, president barack obama delivered his annual state of the union address. there's so much to talk about tonight. our guest jeffrey sacks, professor and director of the earth institute at columbia university. "the new york times" says he's probably the most important economist in the world. we're glad you joined us.a2/ a conversation with jeffrey sachs coming up right now. ♪