kidnapping. islamic state militants executed a reporter, james foley, and other americans. the families who tried to raise funds to win the release of their loved ones have testified that the government had warned it would prosecute them if they did so. obama says there will be no change to the long-standing u.s. policy that government officials don't make concessions to hostage takers. this includes paying ransoms and negotiating hostage swaps. but officials will negotiate for the release of hostages. the white house is setting up a new interagency group to work on the rescue of hostages. a special envoy is to be named to coordinate such efforts. the turn-around in the u.s. hostage policy is likely to have an impact on similar policies of other nations, including japan's. japan's prime minister is paving the way for russia's president to visit later in the year. shinzo abe and vladimir putin spoke on the phone over issues of mutual concern, and they agreed on the importance of keeping the lines of
cooperation to allow japanese boats to continue fishing in russia's exclusive economic zone. russia's parliament passed a bill that bans drift net fishing in the zone from next year, but putin still needs to sign off on it. the zone is close to disputed territory involving four islands controlled by russia. abe wants to promote dialogue with putin to try to solve the issue. the japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of japan's territory. it says they were illegally occupied after world war ii. the russian presidential office says abe confirmed with putin that he'll invite the president to japan at a mutually convenient date. the office said the two leaders expressed hopes to strengthen cooperation in the fields of politics, the economy, culture and security. it said they also discussed the crisis in ukraine. it added russia and japan will fully prepare for the visit through talks at various levels including meetings of bilateral trade and economic officials. >> nato defense chiefs have
agreed to strengthen the alliances defenses as russia moves toward a military build-up. the ministers are meeting in brussels. they decided to add sailors to fateoas rapid response force, to 30,000, about three times the current figure. they also agreed to set up new facilities in eastern europe including poll an and the three nations bordering russia. the move is seen as a response to russia's increase in military activity in the baltic sea and plan to deploy intercontinental ballistic missiles. >> we do not seek confrontation, and we do not want a new arms race. we want to keep our nations
safe. >> the united states earlier announced plans to station tanks and other equipment in the three baltic nations. the u.s. senate has approved a bill that gives the president fast-track authority on trade deals. ai uchida joins us now. good morning. the president finally getting the green light? >> right. and most voting in favor were actually republicans, but some democrats also getting on board. now the united states and the other nations involved in the transpacific partnership free trade talks are expected to speed up preparations for a final agreement. this will include arrangements for meeting among ministers. the senate passed the tpa bill by 60-38, the legislation will go into effect when obama signs it. the house of representatives approved it last week. obama and the republicans have worked together to pass the bill since it was submitted in april. they also persuaded some democrats to go along with t even though many in the party
argue that a free trade pact will threaten u.s. jobs. japanese government officials have welcomed the passage of the bill they say it will help push negotiations forward. the officials now plan to speed up talks between japan and the u.s., they're eager to conclude talks regarding the treatment of tariffs on auto parts and five products including rice beef and pork. they'll then work toward organizing a meeting of all 12 nations participating in the tpp talks. they want to conclude a pact at the earliest possible date. greek and eurozone finance ministers have failed to reach a deal on a bail-out program that would keep greece from going bankrupt. but they say they will head back to the negotiation table on thursday to try to hammer out a deal. they're meeting on wednesday in brussels lasted only about an hour. they discussed a new financial reconstruction plan submitted by greece in exchange for badly
needed loans. the european union and the international monetary fund have called on athens to make revisions to its proposal including cutting pension pay-outs, but greek leaders rejected the suggestions. they argued the move would place a burden on low-income people. greece needs financial aid to avoid defaulting on a lone of roughly $1.8 billion if the imf. the payment is due tuesday. well, the lack of progress in the greek debt talks led to a decline in global equity markets. stocks fell a touch. the dax in germany down .6. in france down just about a quarter percent. but london's footsy did book the trend. on wall street the dow jones left nearly 1% and the nasdaq shed .7% after a record high on tuesday. to see how markets here are
reacting ramin, tell us what you are seeing. >> good morning. a little bit of caution returning to the markets, especially after the euphoria that we saw earlier in the week. so let's have a look at the opening levels for the nikkei and the topix. for thursday june 25th. 20,773, down almost half a percent. yesterday it closed at its highest level since december 1996. at that time the dow jones close the 6,648. u.s. inflation was around 2.6%. investors in japanese shares have been bolstered by loose monetary policy adopted by the bank of japan and a push by the government to embolden japanese companies to raise shareholder returns. and a lot of buybacks and structural changes have indeed helped to boost return on equity or roe, which really a lot of
investors are clamoring for. the prospect also of the u.s. passing the transpacific partnership is also a deal that would boost sentiment even more which would mean higher competition, or stronger competition for japanese companies, which in turn would need them to streamline their businesses even more than they are now. >> and ramin, i also want to ask you about currencies and bonds. how are market players reacting there to the deadlock in the greek debt talks? >> yeah a little bit of a muted reaction. the euro in fact showed little reaction, as it held pretty steady against the dollar. eurozone government bonds, such as the german ten-year also showed little moves so far. however, a lot of investors seem to be preferring assets such as u.s. treasuries, the yield on the ten-year note dipped overnight and that led traders to sell the u.s.
currency. came in pretty much as expected. we should also carefully watch moves in the chinese markets. the shang hey composite rose more than 2% yesterday. rising two days in a row in fact. yesterday the nikkei touched the highest levels in 18.5 years. almost doubling. overseas investors really increasing their japanese shareholdering significantly which is now estimated to total around $1.45 trillion. a lot of overseas investment in japanese shares. but for now, the nikkei is down over a hundred points. we'll see if it can rebound. back to you. >> thanks a lot for that update. japan has lost 53 local train lines over the past two decades, largely due to depopulation. but aficionados aren't just lamenting the loss they're bringing some of the cars back
to life. >> here's a sight you don't often see, a train carriage hitching a ride on a huge trailer truck. this sleeper train is called don and it retired in march 2014. now it's heading for a railway theme park in kosaka town, northeastern japan. this amusement park occupies the site of a railway that closed six years ago. the once deserted facility has been reborn as a popular tourist spot. railway fans can drive diesel-powered locomotives, and try other hands-on experiences. but there's a problem. the local area has just one hotel.
tourists coming all the way to visit the park have nowhere to stay. this is where the train comes in. town officials wanted a retired sleeper express. their plan works like this. during the day, a diesel train carries visitors around the park. at night, the sleeping cars will be called into service. okay the cars are more cramped than hotel rooms, but railway fans will get a kick out of staying in a sleeper. >> translator: having a place to stay here in kosaka is also a big plus. in terms of promoting tourism. >> reporter: it has three types of sleeping compartments. the bed in the second-class private room has a view of the night sky.
this is the first-class private compartment. it once made the roughly 770-kilometer journey from tokyo to the northern prefecture more comfortable. >> translator: wow, i have such fond memories of using the train. i would really love to try the sleeping berth. >> translator: i'd love to take a ride. >> reporter: the town plans to put the rain into use in october, once repairs are finished. the town bought it to offer visitors the thrill of riding in the train, then sleeping overnight. though retired, it's about to start moving again, carrying the dreams of a new generation of fans. >> more for you in business next hour. i'll leave you now with a check on markets.
♪ ♪ the death toll from pakistan's heat wave is now at least 800. >> the pakistani government declared a holiday on wednesday in the largest city, karachi asking people to stay home and out of the sun. many residents continue to say the official response has been inadequate. temperatures reached 45 degrees celsius in and around karachi on the weekend. hospitals are struggling to cope with the number of people suffering from heat stroke. some residents expressed anger about medical and public services, especially electricity. >> translator: there was no light all day and frequent power cuts during the night. we had to sleep out in the street. nobody's taking charge of the situation.
the utility company ignores our complaints. people are falling sick and being rushed to the hospital, but the situation there is terrible, too. >> temperatures eased on wednesday as sea breezes reached the city, but hopes of significant rainfall were dashed. the heat wave came during ramadan, the muslim holy month when people fast during the day. many of those who died were dehydrated. officials in nepal are working to rest and historical sites vital to their tourism economy. the buildings were damaged during the earthquake in may. a group has traveled to kathmandu to survey the damage first hand. they visited a unesco world heritage site. officials say 800,000 foreigners visit nepal every year and they say restoring the attractions is a key priority to bring visitors
back. unesco plans to restore the 17th century palace as soon as possible. the structure housed a museum before the earthquake that destroyed it. >> we have made a list of priorities, so this one, the museum, is at the top of our priority, because this building, as you can see, is very shaky. >> the delegates will attend an international aid conference in kathmandu on thursday, two months after the first quake. relationships from 53 agencies and countries are taking part including japan, india, and china. the nepalese government say they need about $6.7 billion for reconstruction. that's equivalent to about one-third of the country's entire gross domestic product. the rainforests of brazil are one of the world's natural treasures, but logging and slash and burn farming have seen the forest shrink dramatically. an tlearnt form of agriculture is emerging similar to natural habitat, known as agro forestry it was pioneered by japanese
immigrants. >> reporter: this town is home to around 300 japanese families. their ancestors began farming in harsh conditions here over 80 years ago. the farmers have developed agrow forestry. in agro forestry crops co-exist with trees. farmers placed with gritty soil plant bananas. they plant peppers and acai which takes three years to mature and also cacao which takes even longer. the aim is to get revenue from one crop while cultivating others. other plans can grow there too.
this man is one of the agro forest's pioneers. in the 1970s, he began growing cacao, he wanted a reliable crop. he also thought that large leaves might create a good compass as they fell. the aim was that the cacao would provide shade. so they planted side trees which grow tall and produce a blueberry-like fruit. now, 20 hectares have cacao and nine other crops, his income has stabilized and his farmland has attracted attention for the way it co-exists with the forest. >> translator: if i hadn't brought in the cacao, i don't
think i could have achieved this growth. i only started farming this way to make some money. >> reporter: it's caught on. some 200 farming families have taken it up. 70 square kilometers of depleted land has been restored. local governments across the amazon river basin have high hopes for the technique. >> translator: the farming methods have proved a great success. we should spread them to other regions. >> reporter: agro forestry created added value too. acai juice from the berries can be branded and exported as an environmentally friendly health food. on this day, food importers from japan visited a factory.
>> translator: their infrastructure is improving. so i think their progress will continue. >> reporter: by turning damaged plants into cash crops, the pioneers show how to benefit from the rainforest while preserving a global rainforest. nhk, brazil. health fish officials in ghana are turning to japan to help feed some of the youngest members of their population. they're hoping a japanese product can boost nutrition for babies. >> reporter: 9 health officials from ghana checked in to check out the operations at this japanese food company. they're learning from the team about the firm's products.
they've traveled here to take part in two weeks of training seminars sponsored by the japan international corporation agency. on this day, ghana officials came to learn about the company's efforts to improve the health of babies through a fortified food product called koko plus. this is a fortified food powder made of soybeans vitamins, calcium, and sugar. and has a sweet taste. it was specifically developed to be added to ghana's local porridge which has a sour taste. in ghana, the first solid food for most babies is koko i porridge made of fermented corn. but by itself it's not a balanced diet. many of the children suffer from stunted growth. so the japanese food company joined in a project to tackle this issue.
they worked with ngos and scholars at the university of ghana and created this fortified powder to add to koko. the officials learned first hand about the past tw years of experiments with the powder. produced by a local company, one pack sells for less than ten cents, a little expensive, but still an affordable price for the country's people. at least 10,000 mothers have used the powder so far. sales are handled by local women who directly explain the importance of investing in the children's health. it is also sold in mom and pop shops, but reaching a wider range of mothers has presented a challenge. government health officials hold events to explain to mothers how to best care for their babies. participants say they want the opportunity to explain the product at such events. >> we want to create sustainable business for better nutrition of
children in ghana. and this is possible only when we have a good collaboration. we think that this new collaboration at the next stage, will be really essential to achieve this goal. >> so the health worker is saying that this product is good. then mothers are more likely to patronize it so an endorsement from the health sector is something that in addition to education on using foods like the koko plus will go a long way. >> an official agrees that working together can approve gon ghana's food situation. >> in ghana each village has a clinic that provides not only treatment, but also activities to promote health. i think there's a great
possibility in these activities where essential services and information can be delivered to mothers and infants who need them the most. >> reporter: the mission to raise healthier babies in ghana is still only half complete. but goodwill and cooperation are spreading internationally and it's hoped the goal can be achieved soon. it's time now for a check of the weather. people in southern areas of china and japan are dealing with heavy rain and flooding. mai shoji joins us with more in world weather. >> the rainy season is living up to its name it's becoming very active. we also have the tropical depression that made landfall over vietnam. so that's irritating it too. we're going to see a lot of rainfall hefty amount across vietdoust china, ssibly 120 millimeters and the samemoun wille adding up to the areas where we have been seeing torrential rainfall in eastern china.
we have the warm moist fro, that's going to be quite active on thursday and into friday. so even south korea will see precipitation of about 120 millimeters of which 20 millimeters will fall in just one hour. some of it could be beneficial rainfall, because these areas have seen much less precipitation compared to the normal years. but that's actually going to pull into certain parts where it's not welcome, because we have flooding in kagoshima, we saw 200 millimeters of rainfall in the past 24 hours and we're likely to see additional 150 millimeters into the next 24, and actually into just friday morning hours, of which 50 millimeters could fall just in one hour's span. that's figure to be provide that's going to be provided up into honshu. a disturbance in china and the northern tip of hokkaido watch out for the deterioration of weather and thunderstorms up there. but it's not just bad weather
that people in hokkaido are seeing, here we're seeing this beautiful sky. the sun became very active firing up plasma directly at the earth, so the result is auroras. it's been since march that northern hokkaido residents observed this sight which had been the first in 11 years. the solar flares are actually very intense lately. officials say we could see more in the next six months. so maybe there are people out there could have another scene like that again. people in northern america got to see this sight too. so the solar flare was very, very active and it descended all the way to the south. but also people here across upper midwest and into the great lakes region are seeing severe weather. in fact, we actually have two deaths reported from the dozen tornadoes and the damaging winds toppling trees. that's still active across the
southwestern areas of the great lakes, including chicago, with very heavy rain potential too. and tornadoes cannot be ruled out. that's pulling into cincinnati and ohio river valley on your thursday. but towards the west we're looking at some clear skies. the eastern half looking very messy as you can see ifhis outlook. and actually the jet stream is moornding all the way towards the north, which means that the heat is coming from the south, pooling in. it's a general pattern, but very rare to see 40s on your sunday here in british columbia in canada. something to watch out for, please watch out for heat stroke. this area again in the black sea region, krosh ashia looking at some flooding. but high pressure system will be dominant in europe. central locations looking gorgeous. before the system pulls in partially sunny skies at 21