hello there, welcome to "newsline." it's december 31, new year's eve in tokyo. i'm catherine kobayashi counting down to 2016 with the top stories this hour. ten member countries launched an economic community on thursday which promotes trade liberalization. they signed a declaration in malaysia last month to establish it. a government sponsored event to celebrate the launch of the asean economic community was held in the thai capital bangkok. the community has a population of 600 million and gdp of $2.5
trillion. member economies will promote the elimination of import duties and liberalization of tourism and other service industries. they will allow freer movement to skilled workers such as medical doctors and architects within the region. they expect the economic community will help accelerate the pace of growth in the region. however, economic differentials in the region pose a challenge for the single market. the per capita gdp of singapore is about 60 times that of myanmar. member economies also have domestic regulations against foreign affiliated companies to protect their own industries. they're expected to discuss how to ease such regulations in the future. china and taiwan have begun operating their first telephone hotline. the setup allows senior officials on both sides to communicate quickly and reduce tension in the event of an emergency. both sides confirm the first call was between the director of china's taiwan affairs office, zhang zhijun, and the head of taiwan's mainland affairs
council, andrew hsia. chinese president xi jinping and taiwan's president ma ying-jeou agreed to open the hotline last month. both sides say the hotline is the fruit of cross-strait exchanges based on the concept that the mainland and taiwan belong to one china. cross-strait relations are a key campaign issue in the run-up to the presidential election in taiwan next month. an opinion poll suggests tsai ing-wen from the democratic progressive party has a strong lead. the party rejects the one-china policy. a spokesperson for the taiwan affairs office in beijing has stressed the importance of the one china policy. >> translator: the cross-strait dialogue mechanism could even collapse without a consensus on the one china policy. north korea's state-run media says a key diplomat and
close aid to kim jong-un has died in a traffic accident. the reports a state funeral will be held. the korean central news agency says kim died on tuesday at the age of 73. >> translator: kim yang-on secretary of the workers party passed away at 6:30 a.m. on december 29th in a traffic accident. he was 73 years old. he was one of the closest fellow soldiers and loyal comrades of our supreme leader. >> kim had been in charge of relations with south korea since 2007. he attended high level talks. experts suggest kim's death won't affect north korea's policy toward the south, but the news agency described his passing as a huge loss. it reported kim jong-un will assume the top post of the funeral committee members. analysts say he'll use it to
demonstrate his leadership and call for national unity. chinese leaders have scrapped the country's decades old one child policy this year to maintain stable economic growth. under the old law, couples having more than one baby had to pay a heavy fine. now they're free to have a second, but that freedom comes at a cost. >> reporter: this company in beijing produces educational materials for toddlers. through its online store, the firm sells study kits for learning things like english as well as traditional chinese poetry. it also markets imported baby products and develops social network apps for mothers. company officials are hoping that the new family planning policy will boost their
business. >> translator: a survey of our 10,000 customers shows more than 30% of mothers want to have a second child. there's limitless potential in the education market, and we'll be setting our sights even higher due to the new policy. >> reporter: this woman lives in beijing with her 3-year-old son. her husband lives away from home because of his work, but he plans to come back soon. the 31-year-old mother wants to have a second child who she believes will teach her son to be more mature and responsible. >> translator: my son is a bit spoiled. if we have a girl, he will probably take care of her and learn to think more about other people. >> reporter: she is vice president for the school for art and film studies.
the couple's combined annual income is about $47,000. that is much higher than what the average beijing household makes. ♪ she thinks education is the most important part of raising a child. her son goes to a private kindergarten that teaches english to kids. the monthly tuition is it's almost triple the cost of public kindergartens. she is also planning to buy a condominium in a district with an elementary school that has high academic standards. >> translator: that will be a heavy financial burden. but we'll have to overcome it for our two children.
>> reporter: but for some couples, the idea of having a second child remains just that, an idea, because of financial difficulties. this is a stay-at-home mom with a 1-year-old daughter. she quit her job as a manager at an advertising agency after she became pregnant. her family's annual income fell 50% to about $16,000. the money the couple used to spend traveling and pursuing hobbies now goes towards their daughter's future education. they feel one child is more than enough. >> translator: if we have two children, we would have to spend less on education for each of them. i'd rather have just one child and give her a better education. >> reporter: she and her husband are the only child in their family. they would eventually have to care for both parents when they
get old. >> translator: we would need a lot of money if we want to have another child. it would put more pressure on us. there's no way we can support all our parents plus two children. >> reporter: china's one child policy is now history, but couples need better benefits if they choose to have another baby. the question is whether the government will be able to come up with such measures to set demographic changes in motion. nhk world, beijing. japanese manga artists have won a huge following around the world. back home, they continue to explore new creative boundaries.
one area they're finding new fans is in the classroom and they're helping to bring history alive. >> reporter: a cram school in tokyo. a student is preparing for high school entrance exams. but it's not a textbook he reaches for. it's manga. part of a series of comics covering japanese history in 23 volumes. the students are required to read them between classes. and they don't need much encouraging. teachers say even those who had a difficult time with history are now eager to study. >> translator: i've introduced manga because i noticed how easily students memorize characters and story lines from tv dramas, anime shows and manga. >> reporter: book shop managers report a sharp rise in sales of
history comics. one reason is the quality of the drawings. the publisher of this series launched in june recruited leading talents in the manga industry. the artist of this cover works for academy award winning studio. historical figures are drawn in the same hip style as fiction manga. and battle scenes come alive in graphic detail. in his first month on sale, this series sold 700,000 copies, an unprecedented figure for this type of book. but style alone doesn't explain their popularity. creators of history manga are stressing substance. this publisher has done extensive research on armor and helmets. each period has a different style and the artists are required to portray that reality
in their drawings. >> translator: characters are shown from the side other from behind. the artist will have a difficult time unless they know how to draw them from different angles. >> reporter: and it's not just armor. publishers scrutinize each frame to ensure the work is historically accurate. >> translator: the most difficult thing about manga is to be faithful to the facts and entertaining at the same time. >> reporter: that kind of attention to detail gives this genre of manga a broad appeal. this 41-year-old homemaker is one fan. she was bitten by the history bug after buying an e-book manga for her young daughter. >> translator: it could be more enjoyable to read these as an adult because we've learned many things since we last studied history.
in this sense, i'm more into reading manga than my daughter. >> reporter: manga has already made its mark in world culture. if they stay true to history, publishers of this popular art form say they can do the same in education. in this segment, we feature women in japan who are challenging prevailing norms and influencing society. today, we take you to the race track. she isn't letting gender steer her away from her career of choice. she is one of female drivers racing in international competitions. nhk world talked to her about her success and how she is also mentoring others who want to follow in her tracks. >> reporter: this is what the world looks like at 300 kilometers per hour.
keiko is one of the top drivers in endurance racing, working in a team of three to complete six hours of total time. the winning team is determined by the number of completed laps. her initial visit to the circuit however was in a different role. she landed a job as a pick girl. >> translator: i saw everyone working with a tremendous sense of responsibility and urgency. the driver could die if even one screw was not properly fitted. i thought, i want to live working to the best of my ability. >> reporter: first, she had to get a driver's license. at her first race in japan at age 25, she found herself on the podium. but she had a hard time winning support. >> translator: i went to ask
companies for sponsorships, but people there would tell me i'll probably get married and retire or that i didn't have the physical ability to succeed. >> reporter: so ihara moved to europe, the homeland of motorsports. she made it to the f3 races, a gateway to the top formula 1. but then she had to put the brakes on her career. >> translator: i competed against male drivers. i didn't have the same physical strength, so i was exhausted. i went through more than 200 days in the year with a fever of 38 degrees. my mind became weak and my nervous system became unbalanced. >> reporter: she spent five years rebuilding her health. then she made her comeback. the world endurance championship requires tactics and resilience.
ihara's abilities caught the attention of teams around the world. >> keiko was -- is the perfect example for endurance because she's fast enough, very consistent, never mistake. >> reporter: last year, ihara and her teammates came in third. at 41, she became the first woman to stand on this podium. ihara wants to pay forward the opportunities she's had. she started the women in motor sports project this year with a japanese carmaker. she coaches 26 women, including a housewife and a doctor. some have tried racing before, but given up.
they come from across the country to train on the weekend. ihara wants to help them participate in races in japan. >> translator: she is tough and strong-minded. i want to be like her. >> translator: my experience taught me that people can overcome barriers of nationality, age, and gender if they work with others who share the same passion. i want to create a social movement by doing what i can step by step. >> reporter: racing has long been considered a man's sport, requiring physical strength that women don't possess. but ihara is proving that strength of spirit is just as important, on and off the track. nhk world.
a gripping tale of power and betrayal has been staged by dancers from japanese and western traditions. what could have been a clash of cultures turned out to be a great collaboration. nhk world has more. >> reporter: was it murder or suicide? tokyo audiences this week witnessed the betrayal of medieval japanese war lord. the russian ballet plays the power hungry warrior. there's traditional japanese dancers.
the collaboration was born in 2010 when the russian dancer visited japan. >> translator: i was very impressed by how he expressed himself on stage. i could feel the strength beneath his quiet movements. it really made me want to share the stage with him. >> reporter: when he heard of the russian dancer's wish, he proposed they collaborate to highlight their different artistic styles. >> translator: i think true collaboration is when people bring their best abilities together. you share and learn from each other. and in that way, you create something new. >> reporter: the two styles could hardly be more different. traditional japanese dancers stay low to the floor and move delicately. but ballet dancers are energetic. they stand on their toes and reach for the sky.
he enlisted a choreographer to combine the two forms. he danced with the polish ballet. he was the legendary company's first non-russian soloist. he took ballet at his pace, but he also applied the japanese concept that means something like creating space in time. the performers moved through their own steps, but started and finished together. >> translator: the point is for two different stage techniques to harmonize as each dancer performs. you could say an interesting chemical reaction takes place.
>> reporter: the dancers solos with the ballet graceful energy and japanese dance. when they danced together, their synchronized movements created a powerful harmony. [ applause ] >> when they started dancing, i'm moving at the same time. actually, each of them respected the traditional -- like his own dance. >> translator: i almost forgot that they were dancing in different genres. >> translator: the audience seemed happy. i could feel how everyone was open and warmhearted.
>> translator: whoever we are, we have the same breath in our bodies. and when people like us who are steeped in tradition come together and use our intuition to create something, it often comes out really well. >> reporter: this unity sprang from a respect for differences. the three artists plan to take the show on a world tour starting in russia. nhk world. >> beautiful there. time now for a check of the weather with robert speta. new year's eve here in tokyo. people in central u.s. states are preparing for knew year's celebrations. there's severe weather there. what's the latest? >> especially for the central areas of the u.s. the thunderstorms are over with. the tornados we saw earlier this week are over with.
the big issue we are looking at now we had all this tremendous rainfall from the storm system which is now in the northeast bringing snowfall up there as well, by the way. we could even see lake-effect snow. take a look at this. this is from early last week into this week. in some areas, saw upwards of 400 to 500 millimeters of total precipitation. the big issue is not flash flooding. now all this rain has to go somewhere. this is the mississippi river in missouri. you can see it's being swelled up, cresting at record levels for a few areas here. this is out of eureka. one of the big issues with that as well in missouri is that there has been 14 casualties, 13 of them due to people driving through these flood waters in submerged roadways. that's something you want to stress. even though you may know the road, it may look like the water's not too deep, it becomes
a very dangerous situation. definitely something to keep in mind. meanwhile, back towards the east, we still have snowfall in the northeast. showers down towards the south. new york, big festivities going on there of course every new year's eve holiday. you have a high of 11 for you. overnight lows down into the single digits. if you're heading up to times square, you might want to bundle up. no snow as we have seen in the years past. d.c., similar conditions. toronto, that's where all the snowfall is going to be there for you. los angeles, relatively warmer to the west. i do want to talk about the southern hemisphere too. much like the central u.s., we have these just series of storm systems continuing to roll across the region here. and specifically in paraguay. you have been looking at tremendous amount of rainfall. actually some areas here in the darker reds, that's indicating about 500 to 600 millimeters of
total precipitation. even northern areas of argentina as well. about 20,000 people have been forced to evacuate. this is out of paraguay. storm alerts still in place because despite the rain ending for now, we still have the same weather pattern continuing to kick up. look at that. people just having to walk across floating bridges to get from one part of the town to another. another big issue is drinkable water and basic sanitation as well. some of these areas there in southern paraguay and argentina. definitely an ongoing situation there. in northeastern asia, things staying on the chilly side. korean peninsula looking at snowfall, maybe some instability out there. you could see thunderstorms with that as well. as far as tokyo is concerned, sunny skies there for you. you're looking at a high of 11 here on thursday. the outlook heading into the weekend, tomorrow snowfall.
rice cake on the 200 meter path of the atsuta jingu shrine. it weighed about 450 kilograms. the bottom layer has a diameter of 1.5 meters. they've been going it since 1946 in addition to regular offerings of rice and vegetables. >> translator: i felt the weight of the cake as well as history. i prayed for everyone's good health. >> the rice cake will be displayed through january 7th, and it will be distributed to visitors to the shrine the next day. a lot of rice cake to go around there. that wraps up this edition of "newsline." i'm catherine kobayashi. have a happy new year.
♪ host: hello and welcome to "in good shape," your weekly health show here on dw. today we'll answer one of the remaining big questions in medicine, are eggs healthy, or are they a threat to your health? but this will be just one of the big topics today. here's more -- mysterious maladies -- how professor jürgen schäfer hunts down the causes of undiagnosed diseases. protracted suffering -- why one young woman had to wait years for a diagno blood pressure variation -- how a life-threatening problem can ea