>> glad to have you with us on this edition of "newsline." ths thursday, december 25th. i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. japan's lawmakers have decided to give shinzo abe another term as prime minister. abe and his governing coalition had a victory in a general election earlier this month. he has a clearer mandate to pursue his economic and political reforms. [ speaking foreign language ] [ applause ] >> the cabinet resigned wednesday morning and the diet convened in the afternoon to formally name a prime minister. the result was never in question.
abe's coalition holds a majority in both houses. the new cabinet was officially inaugurated after a ceremony at the imperial palace. abe has reappointed all members of the outgoing cabinet except the defense minister. abe has named former defense agency chief gen nakatani to the post. after his swearing in, abe addressed the nation. he referred to the new defense minister, gen nakatani. >> translator: i have appointed mr. nakatani to the appointment of defense minister. he's long been engaged in drafting national security policies and is well versed in the country's self-defense forces. he played a key role in the negotiations within the ruling coalition. from now on, with the help of mr. nakatani, we'd like to continue striving to seek the people's understanding and prepare the bills we aim to submit to the ordinary session of the diet next year.
what's important is that we are going to have a national referendum after a constitutional amendment bill is initiated by the diet. and we must have a majority in the referendum to pass such a bill. that would be the moment of truth. it's the most important part or stage of the process of amending the constitution. we have to have public support. the question of which articles of the constitution are subject to amendment should be decided by public referendum. we want to make further efforts to seek public support for amending the constitution. i was able to meet with chinese president xi jinping at the apec summit in beijing. there, we agreed to return to a mutually beneficial strategic relationship to improve bilateral ties.
i'd like to advance japan-china relations on various levels from a broader perspective. i also had a chance to have candid talks on a variety of issues with south korean president park geun-hye at an apec dinner. she later said we should hold a foreign ministerial meeting among japan, south korea and china in the hope that it would lead to a summit meeting. as a leader of japan, i would like to cooperate toward that goal. officials in neighboring countries have been closely watching the developments in tokyo. diplomats from china and south korea want abe's administration to improve relations. >> translator: china hopes japan
will continue to take a peaceful approach and play a constructive role in promoting peace and stability in the region. >> they referred to an agreement last month on how to strengthen the two nation's ties. she suggested china will monitor japan's moves including its national security policies. diplomats in seoul say they hope the japanese government will make sincere efforts to advance friendly and cooperative relations. and they want abe's administration to move bilateral relations forward in a future-oriented way, based on a correct view of history. the israel government called on people living near the border of the gaza strip to be on alert on christmas day. the two sides blame each other for the breach of a four-month-long cease-fire. the israeli military says a
soldier patrolling on the israeli side of the border was shot and wounded by snipers in gaza. the israels responded by firing into the palestinian enclave. they also used unmanned aircraft to bomb hamas positions. palestinian sources say a leader of hamas's armed wing was killed. hamas has blamed israel for the escalation of violence. on friday, a rocket was fired from gaza into israel. the israeli military responded by carrying out its first air raid on gaza since the start of the cease-fire between the two sides in august. islamic state militants say they're holding a jordanian pilot after his warplane went down in northern syria. it was the first time a pilot from the u.s.-led coalition has been captured by the group. photographs on islamic state affiliated social media sites show the purported pilot and the remains of his plane. they show a man surrounded by a number of gunmen who appear to
be islamic state militants. the jordanian military has confirmed one of its pilots has been captured by militants near the city of raqqa. the statement did not mention why the plane went down. it urged the militants to guarantee the safety of the pilot. the u.s. and its partners have been carrying out airstrikes on targets related to the islamic state group for three months. officials say coalition forces conducted 17 air raids on wednesday in syria and iraq. the targets included a weapons depot in raqqa. iraqi authorities say a suicide bomber in baghdad killed at least 38 people and wounded 56 others. they suspect islamic state is behind the terror attack that targeted pro-government fighters. the man blew himself up on wednesday after approaching militia men who gathered at a military building to receive monthly payments. they worked with the country's army to maintain security. no one has claimed
responsibility. but militants have repeatedly attacked police and military facilities in iraq. u.s. president barack obama has welcomed a decision by a film studio to release a movie about an assassination plot against the leader of north korea. sony pictures entertainment has come under criticism for initially canceling the release of "the interview" following threats of attacks on theaters. officials with the studio say about 300 theaters across the u.s. will start showing the comedy on christmas day. it depicts a cia plot involving two american journalists to assassinate kim jong-un. officials at sony pictures decided to withdraw the film from the initial screening following a cyber attack on the company. the u.s. government blames north korea for its involvement in the attack.
>> movie theaters across the country defy north korea, now saying they will show the movie after all. >> studio officials say the film will play mainly at relatively small independent cinemas. the movie was originally set for release in 3,000 theaters. although the number of venues has been reduced, tickets for the first day have already sold out at some cinemas. >> when the picture hits the screen on christmas day, i think the people of the united states are the ones that really won. >> kim jong-un is not going to tell us what we're going to watch. >> a group of independent u.s. theaters collected more than 500 signatures online. the group says it wants to support the movie's release to protect the freedom of expression. sony pictures has already made the film available online in the u.s. on wednesday. the studio's chief executive, michael linton, says his firm chose the digital distribution first to reach as many people as
possible on opening day. the leader of north korea has made a pledge to the widow of a former south korean president. kim jong-un wrote to the wife of kim dae-jung vowing to unite the peninsula. a former aide to kim dae-jung released the letter after leading a delegation to the north's border city, kaesong. the group went to the city on be half of the widow. she sent a wreath to mark the third anniversary of the death of kim jong-un's father, former leader kim jong-il. kim dae-jung took office in 1998. he pursued a sunshine policy of peace and reconciliation with the north. kim jong-un wrote in his letter that he'll respect the wishes of the late south korean president. he said he'll strive to bring the two koreas together. north korean official who oversees unification matters reportedly read the letter out
to the south korean delegation. analysts say leaders in pyongyang are trying to put pressure on seoul to respond. >> five japanese have been executed in the country for drug-related offenses. >> now it's time for the latest in business news. the biggest challenge of the japanese prime minister's economic policy is how to
least 3% for fiscal 2015 from the current fiscal year. the portion of the wage hike will be tax exempt. now the russian central bank took an unprecedented step earlier this week by bailing out a retail bank following a plunge in the ruble, and now it's made another bold move. this involves some unconventional measures to help companies refinance their foreign debts. official in moscow say they will offer dollar and euro loans to domestic banks. they say this will help refinance russian exporters external foreign currency debts that need to be paid in the near future. sanctions imposed over russia regarding the ukraine crisis are hurting companies. they are selling the ruble against the dollar and this is believed to be a factor dragging down the ruble. with new measures, the central bank hopes to restabilize the
currency. japanese officials are predicting weaker demand for crude steel. much of the decline is due to sluggish auto sales, they say. the industry ministry officials say the demand between january and march will total 27.3 million tons, the second straight decline and down 1% from the same period this year. they attribute the fall to weaker demand for steel from carmakers. the tiect construction market is also aght construction market is also a factor. the ministry officials say a shortage of construction workers is forcing some house builders to delay their projects. >> now let's get a check on the markets. share prices in tokyo opened lower, benchmark nick kay is down a quarter are of a percent. unless yesterday, the nick kay had gone up for five days in a row and having a look at
currencies, dollar not moving that much against the yen. currently trading at 120.31 to 32. nose markets outside of japan are closed on christmas day. not many traders participating in the markets. taiwan is one of the few markets open today in asia. the benchmark taiex is currently down .20% and markets in australia and south korea are closed. that's all business news for now. let's have a look at the region's markets.
december 26th marks ten years since the indian ocean tsunami left more than 220,000 people dead or missing. about 30,000 people died in sri lanka, the second hardest hit country after indonesia. farmers in the country's south have spent the decade struggling to survive their product, cinnamon. here is more. >> reporter: about 2,000 farmers made offerings at a
commemorative ceremony in hikkadwe for the recovery of the cinnamon industry. the cinnamon farmers offered the spice to the temple and expressed their gratitude for the community's reconstruction so far. >> translator: the town is slowly making progress toward reconstruction. >> hikkedwa is one of the areas hardest hit by the tsunami. the area's local specialty is cinnamon. europeans sought the spice during the age of exploration in the 8th to 15th centuries. cinnamon is an extensive ingredient in sri lankan cooking. it is also exported to western nations in japan. a 48-year-old cinnamon grower lost her husband to the tsunami and has been raising her three children by herself. the tsunami waters surged more than two kilometers inland, inundating the cinnamon fields
of hikkadwe. most of the trees on this farm were destroyed. after building her husband's grave on her land, vasenta set about growing cinnamon again. her husband dreamed of building a new house. >> translator: my husband's grave gives me energy. i always feel his help. he protects us. >> reporter: but vasenta's road to recovery has not been easy. the government will need -- the government donated cinnamon saplings, but for three years, her income was only about half of what it had been until the trees grew large enough to harvest. vacenta's neighbor supported her during these times of hardship. a wholesale agent who had worked with her husband continued to buy the spice from the surviving trees and he paid more than the going price. >> translator: i also have children around the same age, so i wanted to support her.
>> with the help of her son, vasenta now produces more cinnamon than before the tsunami. this year she was able to realize her husband's dream of building a new house. >> translator: although it's still painful, i am very happy to realize my husband's dream. >> reporter: vasenta attended the commemoration ceremony carrying a flag representing her community. 10 years after the indian ocean tsunami, the survivors are gradually regaining their former lifestyles. nhk world, hikkadwe, sri lanka.
many travelers flock to hong kong during the christmas and new year period, but the months of pro-democracy protests have given this year's holiday a different feel. nhk world's shun ishibe has more. >> reporter: hong kong looks peaceful on christmas eve. holiday illuminations brighten up the streets. but for more than two months, these same streets were the scene for student-led protest demonstrations. the committee effectively blocked pro-democracy candidates from running for hong kong's chief executive. the protests caused the most serious unrest since hong kong returned to
police arrested about 1,000 people and more than 350 were injured. authorities eventually broke up the protests by force. many people in the business community welcomed the move. >> translator: i am glad the police drove the protesters off the streets. traffic has returned to normal. customers are coming back. >> reporter: pro-democracy activists are still not satisfied. some of them remained on the streets of the government district. >> translator: we're thinking about the best ways to put pressure on the government while continuing our sit-ins. i'll do all i can until the movement is finished. >> reporter: protesters are still staging occasional demonstrations. that's caused some businesses to cancel events because they are afraid of more violence. about 200 activists held a march wednesday night. in response, authorities deployed 2,000 police officers.
>> translator: the sit-ins have been cleared but we want to make sure people in hong kong don't forget about our demand for fully democratic elections. >> reporter: next year, lawmakers in hong kong will consider a bill on the election reform plan. activists have pledged to resume their massive protests. shun ishibe, nhk world, hong kong. >> it's time now for a check of the weather. people on the big island of hawaii are bundling up as some areas
>> it is a typical event but the cold air is really frosty today. we have seen the mercury drop down to minus 23.3 degrees across hokeida. the moisture is carried all the way across japan and squeezed here in the backbone mountains of japan as very heavy snowfall. we, in fact, have a reported accumulation of snowfall death at 180 centimetres. out here across the america s we have a couple of storm systems pulling away from eastern locations but still creating some severe thunderstorms. in fact, the low pressure sit system sitting over ohio, we have this cold front stretching
into florida, we have report of 160 millimeters of rainfall that fell over parts of northern florida, an ongog story with patches of heavy rainfall as well as slight risks of severe thunderstorms for you in the carolinas. out here across the great lakes region we have snow in the forecast. rain will gradually turn to snow. the traveling will be hindered across chicago. and the pacific storm system will create heavy snowfall up to 40 send meters in the sierras and rockies and gusts could reach as much as 105 kilometers per hour. here's are your forecasts on christmas day. denver at 5 degrees with snowflakes to decorate your christmas day. out here in europe, we have a similar picture across the north, really chilly temperatures are dominating the area. scandinavian peninsula will see snow flurries. and then this storm system will be creating blustery conditions to germany, 110-mile-per-hour
gusts are still in the forecast for you. the cold air will dominate the british isles. snow flirting across the mountainous areas in finland could be hindering the reindeer events. these are proofs that santa claus is getting ready for his trip. i hope you have all will wake up to your presents or christmas day. your three days in helsinki, minus 6 degrees. paris, 9, a little bit of rain. rome teens on christmas day. here across japan, we still have that really cold air dominating much of the northwest and the wintry pressure pattern will be taking shots. it will add up to 180 centimeters that we have seen.
as children around the world count down the hours until christmas, u.s. and canadian defense officials are using everything they have to keep a close watch on the northern skies. they are with the north american aerospace defense command and their goal is to track the movements of santa claus. >> are you going to track santa this year? >> yes, as a matter of fact we are.
if you go to norad's website, and i don't have it handy with me, but i'm sure your dad can help you, they have their santa tracker all set up and ready to go. >> norad reports that santa clause has started his christmas eve trip from the north pole. they say he's on a reindeer sleigh loaded with 50,000 tons of gifts. he is in the asia pacific. he is expected to head for america after visiting africa. they took the decision after officers kept on receiving phone calls from children who wanted to speak to santa. that's all for this edition of "newsline." i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. thanks for joining us. xxx
>> the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting colder, so what do the people in many of the cities and towns of europe do? >> ♪ wassail, wassail ♪ all over the town >> they go out into the cold and have a big street party every day for four weeks, also known as the christmas markets. it is a time when the town center, market square, or the narrow cobblestone streets come alive in the dark of winter with festively decorated wooden stalls, offering hot wine, regional food, christmas decorations, sweet confections, baked goods, local crafts, and all other manner of gifts to purchase for the holidays. it is a time of community, conviviality, and color. >> ♪ the good dog of langport ♪ he burned his long tail ♪ and this is the night ♪ we gogi