to review its decision to sharply raise interest rates. the bank of russia raised rates from 10.5 to 17% in mid-december. this is meant to stop the sharp depreciation of the ruble following a plunge in crude oil prices. they talked to nhk about the importance of the review. >> translator: financial institutions have no choice but to raise their interest rates on loans. some firms can no longer borrow from the banks. this is negatively affecting russia's economy overall. >> he said raising the rate hasn't reduced inflationary pressure. he said consumer prices have continued to rise. he said financial institutions have suffered. people are rushing to withdraw deposits. they're exchanging the ruble for foreign currencies. they stress the confusion is
temporary. stock prices ended lower on the last trading day of 2014. political concerns increase weighed on market sentiments. the benchmark nikkei was up more than 17%. the year-end closing price was the highest in 15 years. the business desk gives us the details and looks back at the year's trading. [ applause ] >> well despite the lower share prices, markets were in a pretty festive mood here. there was a ceremony to mark the last trading day of the year. mark players here will now have a five-day break for the new year. let's have a look at how the nikkei and topix ended december 30th. the nikkei closing at 17,450
down 1.5%. the broader topix at 1,407, down 1.2%. so some investors are concerned about the outflow of the upcoming greek election in january, and they sold stocks to avoid some of the risks. but on the year the nikkei was up more than 7%. that's much weaker compared with the previous year. the index had surged 56% in 2013. as for currencies, the dollar rose about 14% against the yen this year. it's at its highest level since 2007. the weaker yen boosted major exporters' shares. earlier we spoke with hiro the sales strategist, for his take on the markets in 2014 and his views on 2015. >> i think this year's japanese market is pretty steady. the first half of the year the
up side was quite limited. because the yen did not depreciate a lot. but the second half the market environment has changed dramatically. the index went up drastically due to several surprises, like additional monetary easing or lower house election and the postponement of a stock increase, which is scheduled for 2015 in october. so those surprises gave energy to the market. and the nikkei went up to near 18,011. i think 2015 is going to be better than this year. i expect the nikkei will go up to 22,000 at the end of the next year.
and there are several reasons. corporate earnings outlooks are good. and another one is the u.s. economic recovery also has a good impact on the japanese economy. especially in the area of export to the u.s. i think there's some risks in the market. i think the timing of the rate increase by the federal reserve in the u.s. is very important. when the oil prices start to decline very substantially, then the market starts to consider debt problems of the russia. >> as he mentioned, a lot of investors will be watching for what the federal reserve may do and how the policymakers in japan, china, europe as well as
emerging economies react. and that's all for me for this year. that was ramin mellegard from nhk world's business desk. japanese workers are known for putting in long hours at the office. many spend a lot of time behind desks, which takes a toll on their bodies. now they're being encouraged to be more active on the job, to improve health and productivity. >> reporter: this is a major software development company in yokohama. about 700 engineers use computers for long hours. because of the sedentary nature of their work many are suffering from obesity and stiff shoulders. so when the company moved in august, it designed the new office to promote physical activity during work hours. the floor in the hallway has a series of lines corresponding to one's body height.
for example, a 175 centimeter tall person is encouraged to walk with an 80 centimeter stride. that's because lengthy strides can burn more calories. this chair has a small seat with a unique arm rest that moves in a wide range. this helps the body release tension by twisting the waist. these are balance balls that help employees straighten their backs for good posture. moreover, the office layout encourages workers to walk long distances. the office space of two floors is as large as 40 tennis courts. however, there's only one stairway they can use. a meeting room and storage for stationery are located upstairs.
engineers' desks are downstairs. for meetings engineers have to walk down the long hallway, and climb up the stairs in the middle of the ofsfice to finally reach the meeting room. they walk about 150 meters each way. japanese engineers usually walk an average of 2,200 steps a day at the office. but on this day, this engineer doubled that with more than 5,000 steps. >> translator: when i counted my steps with a pedometer, i walked more than i expected. >> reporter: they believe it will help the health of the employees and improve business performance.
>> translator: healthy employees are more productive and this helps our company save on medical costs. >> reporter: this company is even promoting healthy eating among its employees. >> translator: the vegetables are here. >> reporter: this software firm uses a new service that delivers produce to the office. the refrigerator is filled with fresh vegetables and fruits tomatoes, small ears of corn and blueberries. the company pays for the service, and its employees can eat for free during breaks. >> translator: i live and work away from my family so this really helps me stay healthy. >> translator: we value the health of our employees. and a good working environment.
because in this way, they will continue to work well and contribute to the growth of our company. >> reporter: recruiting skilled workers is becoming more difficult, especially for companies that force their employees to work long hours. so, one way to earn the public's trust and to track top talent is by offering various benefits that promote a healthy work life. more and more south koreans are growing concerned about online privacy. prosecutors launched a cyber investigation team in october to monitor information. and now some people are looking abroad for social media providers. nhk world's kim explains. >> reporter: internet users are protecting against cyber
censorship. south korea's legal system allows the authorities to censure the e-mails, and is a threat to democracy. >> reporter: park heard online rumors about her behavior after the april 16th disaster. >> translator: rumors like this are disrespectful. they harm diplomatic relations, and the dignity of our country. >> reporter: prosecutors plan to set up a team to monitor online information. social media users saw this as a threat to their privacy. a great number of south koreans are seeking what they call cyber sinum, signing up with messaging services that are outside their
government censorship. more than 90% of smartphone users use it. they dealt a serious blow. an opposition party official was recently indicted for refusing police demands to stop a protest demanding that park resign. he said police monitored messages exchanged with about 3,000 people on cacao talks. they apologized for quoting the concerns to users. the head of an online business body said there needs to be a balance between conflict and interest. >> translator: trust is of the utmost importance but it's also important for businesses to follow the law. it's unfortunate the two criteria have collided over the issue. >> reporter: prosecutors won't
monitor in realtime. but it's hard to win back trust once it's been lost. many users have changed to a german chat group. now 2 million people have signed up. >> translator: i won't go back to kakao, now that it lost the trust of the people. >> translator: it's tough to switch to another service once you get used to one. but since a lot of people are already using telegram i plan to join in and start using it too. >> reporter: cyber signum goes hand in hand with censorship. but they warn of the dangers. >> translator: south korea's economic system relies on the internet. if the government regulates the freedom of expression most internet users want the foundation of the company's
economy will be shaken. the government needs to realize this and deal with this danger. >> reporter: people in south korea are losing trust in online services but they question whether those services can win back that trust. nhk world, seoul. officials in jordan are seeing fewer people from outside their borders coming to visit. their tourism efforts are hampered by the political situations in neighboring countries. they've now teamed up with some japanese experts to help get visitors back. >> reporter: the old town was once the capital of thejordan. it dates back to the 16th
century. it has beautiful buildings. for two years, this man has been supporting south tourism promotion. for many years, he had worked on projects aimed at stimulating their tourism. >> translator: the information you provide to first-time visitors is important. >> reporter: are hagi is historic and well preserved. the old district of hagi city still keeps its historical appearance which dates back to the 17th century. local people present the entire town as a museum and that attracts more visitors. now his team are applying their know-how to provide tourism in
the south. >> translator: did you make this? >> translator: yes. it's handmade. >> reporter: his group is coordinating a tour that enables visitors to interact with locals. he's determined that the tour focus on the city's history, so he might feature this 17th century church. there is a space for muslims to pray. in many parts of the city, there is evidence of peaceful co-existence between christians and muslims. >> translator: this is an ancient cultural heritage that people keep alive. it's important to emphasize that. >> reporter: they hosted a touring training seminar in hagi city.
25-year-old has sad experienced the hagi by creating the city tours. she adopted the idea of a city walk-about tour. she went from door to door looking for people who support the project. she found a magician who can play traditional instruments. at this house, she came across traditional bridal attire that is 70 years old. the dress weighs ten kilograms and is more than ten meters long. it is an important cultural object. they decided to let tourists try it on. >> translator: it exposes the bride's neck showing her
femininity. >> reporter: at first, many locals were hesitant to get involved in the project. but eventually there was some interest. >> we want the people who are living here also to appreciate what they have. >> reporter: the number of visitors has increased five-fold. residents have rediscovered their town's history, and the people themselves are the bridges. nhk world. a japanese university professor is turning to films to help solve a language problem. he's trying to get more of his students to learn chinese.
and he's getting help from some special guest speakers from abroad. nhk world has more. >> reporter: three young chinese movie actors flew in last month as part of an exchange initiative by a japanese university. in the film, the three actors play contrasting roles, a girl who is suffering under the weight of her mother's expectations, a spoiled boy from a wealthy family who goes off the rails, and a street kid who survives by pickpocketing. all reflect issues faced by children in modern china. >> translator: japanese people have a bad reputation in china. i want to find out what they're really like. >> reporter: the initiative was
the idea of a professor at kyoto university. he said the number of students learning chinese is dropping by a third each year. and those who do enroll have little understanding of daily life in china. tatsuo has arranged a screening of the film. >> translator: by meeting and talking with our visitors from china, i hope the students will find out for themselves what chinese people are really like. >> reporter: first, he gets his students to create subtitles for the film. this is a good chance for them to learn more about the culture and lifestyle. before the actual screening his plan is to get them to visit.
>> reporter: the youngest actor talked about his hometown harbin. another demonstrated a folk dance from a minority. >> translator: i've never spoken with a native speaker before. this has motivated me to work harder on my chinese. >> translator: i was worried they might not take me seriously, because i'm just a kid. but they were all nice and listened to what i had to say. >> translator: everyone had a great time and some became quite close. i'm very pleased. the students have little opportunity to meet and talk with chinese people. i want to hold more events like this.