hello and thank you for joining us on this edition of nhk "newsline." i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. we start this hour with a look at the japanese economy. it's the world's third largest and they are wondering how stable everything is. key data has just been released on how the country is doing. what are you hearing? >> we're seeing slightly different pictures from last time. a will the of focus on this morning's data. gross domestic product contracted in the quarter previous. that would be the last quarter of 2015.
the preliminary figure for gdp shows the economy from the january to march quarter turned pos tiitive positive. officials say it was up by 0.4% from the previous three months. that works out to an annualized growth of 1.7%. the officials say it was the first positive growth in two quarters. housing investment declined. that was down 0.8%. economists point out that an extra day this february due to the leap year boosted the figure for personal spending. consumers sentiment remains sluggish and many people are reluctant to splash out on big ticket items.
>> reporter: fewer people are buying condos. the rate sold in greater tokyo area is at the lowest since 2009 which was after the global financial crisis. they're drawing attention from people who say they can't afford to buy in tokyo. commuting to the business district takes at least 40 minutes. a lower prices attracting potential buyers. sales people are telling customers that now is a good time to buy. the central bank's negative interest rate policy has linked to lower interest rates. not many consumers are biting. >> translator: i think we need to see more positive factors sump as
this dealer which sells vehicles is no exception. in fact, it has toughered a doub -- suffered a double blow. tax increase for many vehicles led to a further 10% drop for the year. the new service held the company keeping touch with customers as a way to bring in revenue for service fees. >> translator: the auto market is shrinking. we like to survive by being
innovative. it has been vitalizing the local economy. >> further more, the stronger yen is hurting profits of major exporters. toyota motor executives say they are operating profit for the years for next march will fall by more than 40%. >> reporter: they will raise tax from 8% to 10 and people are wondering where prime minister abe will change his mind based on the latest data. nhk world, tokyo. >> all right. let's see what is happening on the markets. just to recap, on wall street
stock prices fell. that was after recent gains. investors were weighing out the possibility of a federal reserve rate hike following some strong data over in the u.s. the dow jones falling 1%. tech heavy nasdaq down 1.25% on the day. let's see what's happening here in tokyo. ramin joins us with the latest. lots to take in today especially with japan's gdp. what are you seeing? a lot of data to take in. you mentioned the gdp. it also seems like good news for the economy is bad news for the markets. the fed may be readjusting its time line with regards to raising of interest rates. we saw increase in industrial
production, housing data and consumer prices. all of that as we have seen a rebound this oil prices. the nikkei helped in large part by a weaker yen. let's have a look at the crude levels. u.s. crude stockpiles are expected to fall for a second week in a row. >> all right. on the back of strong inflation numbers out of the u.s., where are some of the currency pairs trading this morning? >> we saw a bit of movement in
the dollar yen. we're keeping above 109. 109.09. remains to be see which way the fed will tilt with many still betting it will fnot make any moves at june policy meeting. holding in a bit of a tight range against the yen. it was trading when many believe it will become thick and fast this year. hence the fall back in the dollar since then. let's get a look at how some of others are trading now. china markets open in hour and a half. we have seen gains in rubber futures and also some of the steel sector shares coming this for a lot of activity as well.
for now, the nikkei and the topix trading in the positive. back to you. >> thanks for that update. a japanese government survey shows that employees at one in five companies are working unreasonable hours. their amount of overtime exceeds government set criteria and that indicates possible health risks. the labor ministry conducted the research in december and january. more than 1,700 companies responded. it shows that 22.7% of the firm said some of their workers put in more than 80 hours of overtime a month. the government sets that number as criteria when it determines cases of death caused by over work. big companies with more than 1,000 workers nearly 57% said they have employees exceeding the guideline. by industry, telecom show the
highest rate at more than 44%. research and technology service companies 40.5% and the transport industry over 38%. ministry officials say they will conduct more surveys and tighten supervision over the i.t. transport and other industries where the number of cases is particularly high. that's the latest in business news. i'll leave you with a check on markets. four bombings in baghdad have killed 70 people and injured 140 others. the attacks are the latest in a series to hit the iraqi capital.
all four incidents took place within a few hours in areas mainly populated by shiia muslims. a suicide bomber was used in one of the attacks. the islamic state militant group that targets shiia muslims claim responsibility for the market north of the city. the iraqi military have stepped up their offensive against islamic state militants. the u.s. defense department says areas controll eled by the militants in iraq have shrunk by 45% from the peak. analysts say recent bombings indicate a change in the militant tactics.
tuesday's meeting was co-chaired by the united states and russia. sources say countries supporting different sides of the conflict have accused each other of breaking the cease-fire. >> translator: this was not easy. in part a controversial debate situation. a controversial discussion. >> after the meetingon k oo oon kerry said they would try to use their influence. >> we want them to disassociate themselves physically and politically. >> the government has been engaged in a civil war against opposition groups for more than five years now. the united nations hopes to quickly resume peace talks to end the conflict. it remains unclear when the violence will end.
south korea will form a preparatory committee for setting up a foundation to support those referred to as comfort women. the move is based on a deal agreed between the south korean and japanese governments. seoul will create the foundation and tokyo will contribute about $9 million to it. senior foreign ministry officials from the countries held a meeting on tuesday in tokyo. south korean officials told nhk their government has chosen about ten members. the government hopes to establish the foundation in june and will appoint an expert from the private sector as its head. south korean foreign ministry officials have been visiting the women to explain the agreement and the relief plan. the country's public broadcaster reports 26 of the 29 women the officials met have responded positively. many south koreans oppose the agreement. the government want to implement the measures to show the public that the deal is in the women's best interest.
a major u.s. veterans group says it supports president obama decision not to apologize for the u.s. atomic bombings in japan in 1945. the president will visit hiroshima next week after attending a g-7 summit. >> we definitely support his position to not apologize because we would truly feel like it would dishonor our veterans who sacrificed. they made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives when they supported world war ii. >> powell says the group was briefed about the president's trip by the national security adviser susan rice. she says her organization neither supports nor opposes the visit. she referred to the message president obama plans to deliver. >> we definitely want the president to stress that the american people are honored for the service and sacrifice that our world war ii veterans made. >> the american legion strongly
opposed a 1995 plan by the smithsonian museum in washington to display items showing the destruction from the atomic bombings. the museum abandoned the plan. local high school students want to convey a message to president obama. they've been collecting signatures calling for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. the students gave the mayor more than 80,000 signatures collected over the past year. >> translator: i hope he will convey to president obama our message calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. >> translator: we want to help president obama create an environment to realize his ideal of a world without nuclear weapons.
listening to atomic bomb survivors could be an effective way for him to strengthen his commitment. >> city officials plan to submit the signatures to the united nations. japan's national museum of western art is expected to win recognition as a unesco world heritage site. the main building is the only one that a french designer designed in japan. it was completed in 1959. it features pillars and a winding staircase that slopes through the center of the gallery. it's designed to receive plenty of sunlight. japan, france and five other nations jointly nominated 17 works by the designer in their countries as a single entry on the world heritage list. officials of japan's cultural affairs agency say the international council on monuments and sites has recommended registering the building. the museum is likely to be officially listed in july.
the governor of tokyo is fighting to clear his name amid allegations he misused political funds for private purposes. he is promising to release more details to account for the way he used the money. he has been battling the claims since they came to light last week in a weekly magazine. an expense report shows his former political group spent more than $3,000 at a hotel in 2013 and 2014. he admits his family stayed at the hotel but claims he held political meetings there. he hasn't revealed who else attended. the governor is accused of using the money to indulge in his passion of art. he says he purchased artwork to give to guests from abroad and for his own learning. again, he hasn't revealed who the recipients were. senior officials of the ruling parties are angry. the local chapters of their parties backed him for the post.
the liberal democratic party secretary general said he should think hard about his actions. >> translator: the leader of japan's capital city should be a person of high integrity. >> translator: he needs to be wholly accountable. >> translator: i'll conduct a careful review of all of the documents so i can give a full account of what happened. i'm going to work harder than ever to recover the trust of tokyo residents. >> he said he'll hold a news conference when he's ready. it's time for eye on asia.
a new round of four nation talks aimed at ending the conflict in afghanistan will take place on wednesday. afghanistan has been working with the united states, afghanistan and china to revive direction negotiations with taliban militants. the fifth round of the talks would be held in islamabab. the militant group called the proposal futile and said it wouldn't return to the negotiating table until all foreign forces left the country. this april the militants announced the start of their spring offensive and having increased their attack killing dozens. >> unfortunately, taliban announced an all out war. taliban believed that in 2015 of even earlier '14, they can overcome militarily. that's why there is a lack of
talks. >> the first of the talks between the afghan government and the taliban were suspended since the revelation of the death of the taliban's leader. search and rescue efforts are continuing in western indonesia after heavy rains triggered floods and landslides at least 16 people including college students have been confirmed dead. five people are still missing. the disaster occurred on sunday in north sumatra province more than 70 students and guides were visiting the tourist attraction in a jungle tracking area. >> translator: the color of the water was brown.
it hit our tent and two of our friends were taken down with the landslide. i was trying to help them, but there was a big wave coming. >> officials in the capital jakarta said they sent 300 rescuers including soldiers and police to search for the missing. thailand is suffering from one of its worth droughts in years. some observers say national politics has made the crisis worse. nhk takes a closer look. >> reporter: the province in northern thailand is situated in the mekong river basin. i'm standing in a rice field, here it is supposed to be covered with mature rice. this year as you can see, the soil is dried. we can see grass is dead. the drought is being blamed on a el nino phenomenon, which has seen thailand get less rain than usual.
>> translator: we have been unable to plant rice seedlings because we have no water. i've been working at construction sites. >> reporter: experts say the low rainfall is not the only factor behind the drought. they suspect dams built by china on the upper regions of the miko are also to blame. conservationists say the country conservations say the country has built six dams in the past 20 years. they believe another dam is under construction. experts attribute the unnatural fluctuation of the water level in the river to restoring and releasing of water at the dams. local residents are angry. they say the falling water level has had great impact on their lives. >> translator: a change in the
water level is making the environment unfit for fishing. china's control of water is unacceptable. >> reporter: chinese officials announced they would release water from the dams for a limited period to help countries along the river hit by drought. following this, the water rose almost 1 1/2 meters in northern thailand. >> translator: water is very important. we're happy our rice paddies have water now. >> reporter: experts say china is using the river to exert greater influence over the region.
>> translator: releasing water is clearly not aimed at helping countries hit by drought. it's a move to increase china's influence in this region. >> reporter: the miko is an indispensable part of people's lives in thailand. concern is rising over china's control over it. nhk world, thailand. >> that wraps up eye on asia. let's look at weather. several media sources say 11 people have been kill and six are missing. our meteorologist robert speta joins us with the latest.
>> this is all a result of this depression, a tropical low that's been spinning across the area, now slowly tracking off towards the north. you can see it really on the satellite picture, just continuing to swirl through this area. all right we have been seeing some fairly heavy rainfall reports. in just the past three days, some areas out here nearly 300 millimeters, but in the past week from the 9th through the 16th, upwards of 7 to 800 millimeters fell here, and definitely very serious situation for a lot of people. first, i'll show you out of sri lanka here, further down toward the south, you can take a look at this, the severe flooding that was taking place, 114 homes have been destroyed. we are seeing very heavy rainfall still heading into wednesday morning definitely affecting traffic rather badly. the good news, if there is any shining light coming out of this, it is bringing some relief to the heat that's been dominating much of this area.
so far this pre-monsoonal season we've seen a significant heat wave. so this does usher in some cloud cover and cooler temperatures, but the flooding definitely the very adverse sides of this. we're still seeing that threat of flooding. eventually working its way up the coastline over the course of the next several days, depending on how close this low really interacts with the land mass here is going to determine if it does become a full-fledged cyclone or not. the rain has become less intense, but it's still there over the rest of the week. showers here on wednesday, but we're still looking at dust blowing some gusty winds by thursday into friday. much of japan, north korea, high pressure is dominating, making these dry and warm, temperatures ranging from the mid 20s to the 30s across much of this region. really it's going to remain that way.
further down toward the south, we do have showers into the southern japanese islands. main thing here is really season front is continuing to dominate. how had about this? 28 drops down to 13 over the next 24 hours. showers on thursday, 12 only by your friday. tokyo remains into the mid 20s, warming up to the high, 20si saturday, as i mentioned, we are expecting rain shower the rest of the week. severe weather still a possibility out here across much of central and eastern texas. some waerngs were already issue odd your tuesday. the threat will linger. if you have travel plans, it's something to watch for.
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