hello and welcome to "newsline." it's tuesday, december 30th. i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. authorities from around asia have sent ships, planes and helicopters to scour the waters off indonesia's coast, looking for a missing passenger jet. they've been searching for signs of the airasia plane that disappeared from radar screens early sunday. now they say they'll expand their search. indonesia transportation officials say flight qz8501 left surabaya airport early sunday en route to singapore. air traffic controllers lost contact with the airbus a-320 about 40 minutes after its departure. no distress signal was detected. the plane was carrying 162
people, most of those on board are indonesians. indonesian authorities say the aircraft likely crashed into the sea. that belief is based on the plane's last known position on radar. 22 vessels and 13 aircraft from indonesia, singapore, malaysia, and australia joined the search on monday. president joe cowidodo said indonesia will mobilize every means to find the plane. he said the search will expand with the help of more countries. the airasia flight went missing between the islands of kalimantan and belitung after taking off from surabaya. the weather was bad when the plane lost contact. former japan airlines pilot say many large storm clouds develop this time of year between indonesia and the malay peninsula. >> translator: the plane might have flown into storm clouds, and that triggered a mishap.
i assume the pilot could have failed to regain his position after the plane was rocked violently in the clouds, where there were vertical torrents of air. >> families and friends of those on board have been waiting to learn the whereabouts of their loved ones at the airport in surabaya. they say they're frustrated at the lack of information. more than 400 people have been rescued from a ferry fire disaster in the adriatic sea but authorities in italy said they have confirmed at least eight people dead. the blaze started sunday morning after the ship left patras in western greece for ancona in central italy. 478 passengers and crew members were reportedly on board. italian authorities said they have not confirmed the whereabouts of about 40 people who made reservations. >> translator: the shock came suddenly. i was so scared by the falling
floor, heat and the large amounts of smoke. >> italian and greek naval officials say they've finished the rescue operations. voters in greece will head to the polls for general elections early next year. the parliament has rejected the nominee by prime minister an tonisamaras for president. stavros demass had not been able to get the mandatory two-thirds of the 300 total votes in the previous two rounds. the requirement was lowered to 180 for the third round of voting. samaras set january 25th as the date for the parliamentary election. the greek government has been implementing severe austerity measures in exchange for assistance from the european union. the country's financial problems have affected the rest of europe. the main opposition party which opposes the measures is leading opinion polls. it's yet unknown where samaras
can remain in office. the greek stock index closed 4% below the previous week and at one point it was down 11%. ten-year bond yields surged to 9.8% at one time. concerns over greece's political turmoil hit other european markets. the stock markets in italy and pain also plunged more than 2% at points on monday. google's free e-mail service gmail has been frozen in mainland china. internet analysts suggest possible blocking by the government. users say they have unable to send or receive e-mails through the service since friday. a singapore-based spokesman for google told reuters news agency there's nothing wrong on its end. china's foreign ministry spokesperson said she did not know about gmail being blocked. she did not mention any involvement by the government. officials in china have been cautious about the spread of critical opinion through the internet. the government has maintained
tight controls and has blocked twitter and facebook. >> south korea's i.t. industries compete with the best on the planet. its pop culture has millions of followers around the world. but the country still has a tense relationship with its northern neighbor. we give you the latest insights into what's happening across the peninsula, here on "newsline." every year hundreds of thousands of high school students in south korea take one of the most important tests of their lives -- college entrance exams, and recently they're seeing more and more competition from people of all walks of life who are trying to pursue a higher education. nhk world's reporter explains. >> reporter: this is a women's school in seoul.
it's for older women who never finished middle school or high school. officials held a ceremony ahead of the college entrance exams. the principal handed out sweets to all 148 students wishing them good luck. officials at south korea's education ministry say more and more senior citizens are enrolling in college. in five years the number has grown five-fold. this school started offering classes for adults in 1978. each one pays about $640 for three months' tuition. there are 50 schools across the country catering to elderly men and women. these schools help them enter the college. in this classroom elderly students are busy reviewing their notes ahead of the college entrance exam. the students range in age from their 40s to their 80s.
many of them are over 60. in the 1960s, south korea was much poorer than it is today. leaders put a top price on economic growth. very few people had the luxury of going to college and the widespread sexism of the time made the situation even worse for girls. but now things are different. the south korean economy is strong. many older men and women can pursue the education they never received in their youth. >> translator: i really enjoy studying a lot. i feel it offers a lot of opportunities for me to bring out my full potential. >> translator: i want to keep going to school without worrying about my age. as long as i'm healthy enough. >> cho hee-ok is 82 years old.
she's the oldest person to take this year's entrance exams. cho's father died when she was just 6. her two brothers went missing after being recruited by the authorities during japan's colonial rule of the korean peninsula. cho had to drop out of middle school to help support her mother. she went to work at a textile factory. she said it was tough to see her former classmates going off to school in their uniforms. >> translator: i was never able to find better work because i didn't have enough of an education. deep in my heart i always wanted to continue my studies. i always felt small and shy in front of other people. >> reporter: cho faces the same challenges common to many elderly people.
she sometimes has difficulty remembering what she's learned, but she says she doesn't want to stop. she's planning to go to college for a degree in social welfare, so she can help people in need. >> translator: being able to go back to school almost makes me feel like i was born again. the dream i had while working all those years has finally come true. from now on, i want to live a life worth living. >> reporter: more and more south korean senior citizens fulfill dreams they couldn't achieve when they were young. with help of schools like this. kim chang-ju, nhk world, seoul. japan's leaders are in a race against time.
the proportion of elderly is increasing faster than any other country, and the birth rate remains low. since 2007, the number of deaths each year has outpaced the number of births. the crisis is hitting home, and not just in small towns with declining industries, but in the heart of the capital. nhk world's jun yotsumoto reports. >> reporter: toshima city in tokyo is bustling. more than 2 million people come and go at this train station, one of the world's busiest. the area is known as japan's hub culture center, attracting many visitors, even from abroad. many young singles move in from across the country, and like many other regions, the population here is still on the rise. but a nationwide demographic study indicates that won't be the case for long.
it suggests toshima's population of women of child-bearing age will decline to almost half by 2040. that means less and less children will be born here. mayor yukio takano was taken aback by the results. >> translator: it was a big shock. i jumped out of my seat. why toshima city? >> reporter: the problem is that the area is simply not suited for young families. michiko kandatsu moved toshimo city a year and a half ago with her daughter and husband. she chose the area for the urban convenience but finding a place to live was difficult. >> translator: i felt there were so few properties for families. >> reporter: most available apartments were studios for singles. kandatsu was surprised to learn
60% of toshima's households have just one member. the neighborhood has few parks. she takes her daughter, kyoko, to play on a patch of ground with little greenery. kandatsu is a schoolteacher and wants to go back to work as soon as she can. but she can't find a day-care center for kyoko. hundreds of children are already on the wait list. >> translator: the day care i was counting on has just one opening. i'm quite worried. i'm afraid i won't find a place for her. >> reporter: kandatsu meets once a month with a committee that gathers ideas from residents. they discuss how best to improve the city's services, so people will stay even after they have families. >> translator: i think we need something that's easy to understand, like no child has to wait for day care.
>> translator: i like a one-stop place where you can get advice about health and raising children. >> reporter: members are preparing a report of recommendations to present to the mayor next month. >> translator: i hope to contribute to making toshima a better city for children, where they will have their own place. >> reporter: mayor takano says the voices of people like kandatsu are important. >> translator: i will take into consideration recommendations from those young women about what kind of community they want to live in. it will be a big challenge for me to reflect them in my policy. >> reporter: professor hisakazu kato says the challenge could become even bigger. he's one of the population researchers involved in the study.
>> translator: people are moving from rural areas to the tokyo metropolitan area. but even so, if they can't bear and raise children here the population will rapidly decline all across japan. >> reporter: leaders from all levels of government are facing growing pressure to act before it's too late. jun yotsumoto, nhk world, tokyo. police in tokyo plan to arrest a japanese radical said to be released from the u.s. and deported next month. shirosaki was serving time in japan for attempted robbery and other crimes in 1977.
authorities released him and other prisoners in exchange for hostages taken when the japanese red army hijacked a passenger jet in dhaka, bangladesh. authorities say shirosaki and five other members left the country. investigators believe shirosaki took part in a 1986 attack on the japanese embassy in jakarta, indonesia. tokyo police put him on an international wanted list in 1992 on charges of attempted arson of a hotel room. they believe it was a move to destroy evidence of the embassy attack. u.s. authorities apprehended shirosaki in 1996 on suspicion of firing projectiles at the u.s. embassy in jakarta. a u.s. court convicted him on charges including attempted murder. he has since been serving jail time in the country. authorities in japan are dealing with the country's third bird flu outbreak in less than a month. they ordered a mass cull and put restrictions on shipments.
authorities on monday tested dead chickens from a poultry farm in the western prefecture of yamaguchi. they say the birds tested positive for the h5 strain of the virus. they say 37,000 chickens will be culled, and they've restricted birds and eggs from being moved within a three-kilometer radius. on sunday, authorities in the southwestern prefecture of miyazaki found the h5 strain at a poultry farm. they culled more than 42,000 chickens. the virus was found at another farm in the same prefecture two weeks ago. owners of a once popular robotic dog are trying to delay the inevitable. they're worried about the future of their pets since the japanese manufacturer stopped offering repairs, so they're digging through old parts to give their beloved androids new life. nhk world's tsuyoshi nagayama
has the story. >> reporter: robot technology advances day by day. one robot model has been beloved since it first came on the market 15 years ago. it's a robotic pet named ibo. owners from all over the country gather at the annual ibo networking event in fukuoka prefecture. ibo's personality develops through its interactions with its owner. the robot's mannerisms and personality change depending on
how they are treated by their owner. some relate to the ibo like it was their child. some people even take their pet robots on overseas trips. >> translator: it's really a part of our family. it gives us comfort. >> translator: i like it, because it says positive things. >> reporter: but there's trouble in ibo land. the robotic dogs are no longer being produced and in march the manufacturer stopped doing repairs or carrying replacement parts. until recently, owners had sent their robots to the manufacturer for repairs. now, the owners are confused. >> translator: i didn't know that robots could die. so i was shocked.
>> reporter: at the robot dance event, their concern was justified. ♪ many dogs were unable to finish the routine. eventually it couldn't move at all and had to be carried off the stage. takao nakashima owns the mobilized robot. >> translator: it was probably too difficult. i wish it could have held up just a little longer. >> reporter: nakashima is trying to fix it by himself. 15 years ago he became the owner of a real dog and an ibo.
last year the dog died. now all he has left is his pet robot. he hopes to prolong his robot's life, because the pet gave him so many happy memories. after some online research, nakashima carefully removes the dust from its return. although nakashima's robot couldn't move at the dance competition, it has regained a little of its old form. >> translator: it will last for a while. it's worked for 15 years. i hope it will stay in good condition for a long time. >> reporter: one day no amount of repairs will keep these robots going, but until that day
arrives, their owners will cherish them. tsuyoshi nagayama, nhk world. every morning investors turn our attention to asia, the tokyo market leads the way. and markets around the world follow. >> from the decisions that could change the course of an economy. >> to the companies at the forefront of change. >> up-to-the-minute market reports. >> and analysis by specialists from around the world. >> get all the latest business news and insight every day, here on "newsline." the state of the yen and more affordable flights have brought a record number of visitors to japan. last year for the first time the number of tourists from abroad tipped over 10 million. government leaders want to double that figure by the time the olympics come to tokyo in 2020. managers at i.t. firms are getting a head start.
nhk world's chie tanaka explains. >> reporter: this man is a native of tokyo. he shows foreign tourists hidden corners of the city. >> it's not so popular. but there are some that often come here, you know. >> reporter: this family from canada loves motorcycles. so oda took them to a part of town with a lot of bike shops. it's something they wouldn't find in guide books. he also took them to lunch at a ramen shop favored by locals. the visitors say they were able to get a deeper experience of tokyo with oda than if they had just gone to tourist spots on their own. >> very good. >> we always say take us to someplace you would go, not
someplace that i would go. >> reporter: the family found ochl oda through a website run by an i.t. venture. japanese locals post information about themselves and the parts of town they know well. tourists choose the guide that matches their interests. the service started two years ago and users from over 20 countries have gone off the beaten track in tokyo, osaka, and other areas. >> translator: what's the best way to find the most interesting things and best food in the city? the answer is simple. ask locals. >> reporter: another high-tech solution is helping foreign tourists get around japan's aging capital, kyoto. an i.t. company started this tablet rental service in may. the device comes with apps full
of information about restaurants and public transportation. if tourists get lost, they can use the video call function to get help. >> hello? >> hello. >> can you locate where the bus stop is? >> okay -- >> reporter: an english-speaking operator is standing by at the call center. she uses gps information and video from the tablet to figure out where the users are and help them find their way. >> you're supposed to see the bus stop on your left. >> left, oh we have to go that way. >> reporter: the service gives travelers a sense of security when in a foreign country. >> it sure beats being lost and asking strangers especially in japan, where some people don't know how to speak english so it's helpful for us foreigners
you know, travellers. >> to use that, yes, to use the app. >> reporter: the service is run by a venture started by students in kyoto. now they want to expand the system nationwide. >> translator: there are many great places to visit outside the major cities, but the language barrier makes it difficult to receive foreign visitors. our service could solve that. >> reporter: more and more foreign visitors to japan are seeking individual experiences. as the 2020 tokyo olympics draws closer, businesses will have to come up with new ways to meet their needs. chie tanaka, nhk world. now let's take a look at the extended weather forecast for selected cities around the world.