welcome to nhk world "newsline," i'm gene otani in tokyo. here's a look at some of the stories we're following this hour. delegates from around the world have started negotiations in switzerland on bringing peace to syria, after nearly three years of war. the thai government has declared a state of emergency in bangkok as protesters show no signs of backing down. and experts dealing with fukushima daiichi head to chernobyl to see how people are
handling the world's worst nuclear disaster nearly 30 years on. international delegates are now meeting in the swiss city of montreux for a long-awaited peace conference on syria. representatives of president bashar al assad and opposition leaders are sitting down for the first time since the uprising began nearly three years ago. delegates from about 40 countries are attending the meeting. delegates from the u.n., the united states, and european countries want to discuss a limited cease-fire, and they hope to set up a transitional government. the members of the assad regime have rejected calls for the president to resign. u.n. officials had invited representatives of iran to take part. syrian opposition leaders and u.s. diplomats complained. and on monday the u.n. withdrew the invitation. some former war crimes prosecutors say there is proof of systematic torture and killing of detainees by the syrian government. they say about 11,000 people may
have been killed, and that the evidence could support charges of war crimes against syrian officials. the findings were based on 55,000 pictures provided by a syrian defector who worked as a military police photographer. he said he had photographed bodies of detainees who had been killed. the majority of the images were bodies of young men. they showed signs of starvation, beatings, and strangulation. reuters reports lawyers acting for qatar commissioned the examination of the evidence. former war crimes prosecutor and forensic experts interviewed the men and analyzed the pictures. they concluded that the testimony and images were credible. >> what we can say is that this was systematic, ruthless, and methodical killing, in a pattern that would certainly support a charge of crimes against humanity. >> de silva said the people
participating in the peace talks in switzerland need to keep the report in mind. political and business leaders are arriving in another part of switzerland. they're in davos attending the annual meeting of the world economic forum to discuss several issues, including the crisis in syria, and iran's nuclear program. top government leaders from nearly 30 countries and more than 1500 business people are taking part. participants will discuss volatility in emerging economies, and youth unemployment. two major problems that are facing the global economy. on thursday, iran's president hassan rouhani will give a speech. he will be followed by israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu, a critic of iran. observers say attention is focused on what the two leaders will say -- will have to say about iran's nuclear development program, and also the efforts to resolve the syrian conflict. japan's prime minister shinzo abe will talk about his economic policy wednesday in a keynote
speech to the opening session. the four-day meeting wraps up on saturday. the thai government has imposed a 60-day state of emergency starting wednesday, covering bangkok and the surrounding areas. but so far, the situation in the region seems to have changed little. dhra dhirakaosal has the story. >> the newly declared state of emergency in and around the capital seems to have had no effect so far. protesters are still occupying major roads, intersections, and business districts. the day after the government announcement demonstrators are still in place across the capital, while the authorities look on as before. >> translator: they have no way out. that's why they declared a state of emergency. they are trying to cover us up.
>> since late last week, there have been bomb attacks targeting demonstrators. one person has been killed, and more than 60 injured. fears are growing over the deteriorating security situation. prime minister yin luck shinawatra has so far given no indication that she intends to remove the protesters camps in the wake of the emergency declaration. the ongoing security operation is being led by the police, while the thai military is remaining neutral and observing developments. meanwhile, on wednesday, the election committee asked the constitutional court to decide if it has the right to delay the upcoming election. the current tensions highlight more than eight years of division in thai society. prime minister yingluck and her brother, the south exiled ex-prime minister thaksin shinawatra, still have strong support in rural parts of northern and northeastern thailand. the anti-thaksin side relies mostly on the urban middle class for support.
despite the current state of emergency, the protesters are going nowhere, and are sticking to their demand that next month's general election be postponed. they also say deep reforms are necessary before any poll can be held. however if the government decides to use force to crack down on the protest movement, the potential for even greater unrest is clear to see. that's it for update. i'm dhra dhirakaosal in bangkok. a prominent chinese human rights activist has gone on trial in beijing for his role in anti-corruption protests. xu jiyong is charged with gathering crowds to disrupt public order. xu is the founder of the new citizen's movement which started last year. it encourages people to get involved in politics. many people in the movement have been detained for taking part in demonstrations. they have demanded the disclosure of assets held by senior communist party officials.
>> translator: the proceedings don't meet the minimum requirements for a fair trial. they lack legitimacy. >> xu's supporters waved banners outside the court and shouted that he is innocent. they called for freedom of speech. police stopped the protests, and could be seen hauling some people away. a u.s. military official says the chinese navy plans to take part in a u.s.-led multinational drill this summer. this will be the first time for china to participate in the biennial military drill conducted off hawaii. the official told nhk that china has notified the u.s. it will send three or four vessels to the rim of the pacific exercise or rimpac. the vessels include a hospital ship. more than 20 countries took part last time, including japan. the u.s. official says the details have yet to be determined, but the chinese vessels are likely to cooperate
in a drill simulating relief work in the wake of a major disaster. the u.s. military believes the dispatch of chinese vessels means that china is considering taking part in the drill on a full-scale basis, rather than just observing. the chinese military has recently been increasing its maritime activity. bilateral tension flared last month, after a near-miss involving chinese and u.s. military vessels in the south china sea. the u.s. military hopes the drill will nurture mutual trust and help prevent problems caused by misunderstandings. the japanese economy is improving, but the nation's central bank is going to continue with its easy money policy. ron madison is here with more on that. >> that's right, gene. policymakers at the bank of japan decided to stay the course. they're going to stick with the money boosting measures that they introduced last april. boj governor corrode today says the economy continues to recover at a moderate pace and he sees reduced risk for the japanese economy.continues to recover at moderate pace and he sees
reduced risk for the japanese economy.economy continues to re a moderate pace and he sees reduced risk for the japanese economy. >> translator: there are much clearer signs that the advanced nations, including the u.s. and europe, are on a recovery path. it means that risk factors for the global economy overall are waning. >> kuroda also says front-loaded demand will push up growth during the january to march period. some people have been rushing to buy big ticket items like homes and autos before the sales tax goes up in april. the boj governor expects drawbacks in the april to june period, but he says the negative effect will wane afterward. he says public investment will remain at a high level, and exports and investments on plant and equipment will grow at a modest rate. boj policymakers maintain their projection that the inflation rate in fiscal 2015 will rise to 1.9%. kuroda expressed confidence that deflation will come to an end. he says it's likely that the boj's 2% inflation target would be reached during the forecast
period. all right let's get a check and see how japanese shares responded to the boj decision. the nikkei average initially fell but that reaction was pretty short lived. as the outcome was in line with market expectations. at the close the index gaining there almost 0.2%, 15,820. in asia, most markets declined today. china's shanghai saw the biggest gain in two months as concerns eased about a credit squeeze in the country. in bangkok the s.e.t. index declined 0.2%. amid a state of emergency declined by the government. the bank of thailand announced it would maintain its key rate at 2.25%. some economists had predicted a rate cut to shore up the flagging economy. and european equities are moving at this hour. we're seeing declines across the board right now. london is lower by a tenth of a percent. frankfurt declining about 0.4%. paris' cac 40 losing a quarter percent. let's see what's going on in
currencies. dollar/yen is at 104.33. the u.s. currency fell on the boj decision but it soon regained the level before the announcement. traders are awaiting for cues from prime minister shinzo abe's speech at the world economic forum in davos. euro/yen meantime trading at right around 141.32. meanwhile the british pound shot up after the uk unemployment rate fell more sharply than expected. it dropped to 7.1% for the three months ended in november. analysts now expect that the bank of england may raise its key rate sooner than previously thought. well, a key indicator shows the japanese economy is recovering. officials at electric power companies say monthly power consumption by japanese industries in october through december rose year-on-year. in the first -- it's the first time that electricity consumption has risen for three straight months since may 2012. that's when there was a rebound from the drop in energy use that followed the march 2011 earthquake and tsunami. the officials say electricity
sales to japanese factories in december rose nearly 2% from a year before. sales to steelmakers grew more than 8% while chemicals companies used almost 5% more electricity in december. electricity consumption by machinery makers rose just over 2%. the officials say those numbers show corporate production is picking up. japan's television market has been in a slump since demand went up in the countdown to switching over to digital broadcasting in 2012. domestic shipments of flat panel tvs in 2013 declined for a third straight year. researchers at the industry association say tv shipments last year were down 16.7% compared to the previous year. that makes the figure nearly 5.4 million units, which is about a fifth of the total in 2010 when shipments peaked. makers say they plan to step up their sales campaigns to encourage consumers to replace their current sets for high-end flat panel tvs. executives at tvmakers are
hoping the upcoming winter olympics in sochi and the world cup soccer in brazil will boost demand for new sets. they say there are signs of recovery, since manufacturers launched 4k ultrahigh definition models last summer. the new tvs can display images four times sharper than current high definition models. major japanese expressway operators are to overhaul wornout roads over the next 15 years. the plan is estimated to cost nearly $30 billion. three major companies oversee expressways in eastern, central and western japan. their combined stretch covers about 9,000 kilometers. 40% of the roads are more than 30 years old. the operators plan to rebuild the bridges in disrepair that stretch a total distance of 240 kilometers. the cost will be around $17 billion. major repairs would also be needed for some other bridges and tunnels. a total distance of 1,870 kilometers. the companies estimate this work
to cost about $12 billion. the transport ministry plans to finance the project with user tolls. as a result, ministry officials want to delay a plan to make expressways free until at least the year 2065. that would be 15 years later than scheduled. all right. that's it for me in biz. i'm going to hand it back over to gene. >> ron, thanks. nhk has learned the u.s. ambassador to japan, may soon be jetting south to okinawa where the presence of american military bases remains a source of tension. embassy officials say caroline kennedy is scheduled to travel to the prefecture for the first time on february 11th. kennedy is expected to meet governor nakaima. last month nakaima approved a request by the japanese government to reclaim a coastal area of nago that will allow japan and the u.s. to start the process of relocating an american military base there. right now the u.s. marine corps
futenma air station in the densely populated city of ginowan. the plan is to move the facility north to nago. but the newly re-elected mayor of the city opposes the relocation. kennedy is expected to raise issues related to american military bases in okinawa during her meeting with nakaima. the ambassador will visit futenma and meet troops. u.s. embassy officials say she's also considering making a speech as an opportunity to connect with the people of okinawa. analysts say kennedy will try to -- will be trying to get a firsthand look at the issues stemming from u.s. bases in the southern prefecture and seek support for her country's policies. government officials from several countries met in western japan to try to prepare for the worst. the international conference on disaster recovery has been held since 2005. participants are sharing ideas on how to deal with the aftermath of a natural disaster. and ways to help those affected get back on their feet.
nhk world reports. >> reporter: the meeting took place in kobe, a city hit hard nearly two decades ago by a powerful earthquake that killed more than 6,000 people. the meeting drew more than 150 participants from over 20 countries. the largest attendance ever for the conference. when disasters make headlines, aid pours in from around the world. but longer-term recovery requires international cooperation, too. and that's exactly what government officials, ngo workers, and many others, came here to kobe to discuss, how to work together to minimize the effects of disasters. presenters brought lessons that they have learned from their disaster experiences back home. one speaking is from the philippines.
two months ago, extremely powerful typhoon haiyan caused extensive damage there. an official from the country said the government thought they were prepared. but the scope of the disaster was well beyond their imagination. >> unfortunately when the storm surge hit the facility, or the warehouse, all the food were destroyed. >> reporter: representatives for japan and the united states spoke about their own experiences rebuilding. ibm japan chairman heads the disaster preparedness committee of the japan business federation, or keidanran. he said the disaster on march 11th nearly three years ago in japan's northeastern region affected global economic activities from supply chains to trade, and investment.
he emphasized the private sector needs to actively play a role in rebuilding disaster-hit areas. >> reporter: we won't be just looking after our own business, we'll work with other corporate members, private citizens, and the public sector to help with disaster recovery. >> reporter: elizabeth zimmerman from the u.s. federal emergency management agency, for fema, talked about how the private sector helped after hurricane sandy more than a year ago. >> we partnered with google. google came in, google does the mapping, we all have it on our iphones, and to be able to say, where can i go for assistance. >> reporter: many participants expressed their views on private sector involvement in reconstruction. >> i will convey this message to my government, and i will encourage the private sector in disaster management, also.
>> reporter: organizers of the conference say this gathering is a major stepping stone for the world to be better prepared with disasters. international communities are working together to prepare for the unexpected. and to find stable and efficient ways to revive communities when disaster strikes. nhk world, kobe. crews at the chernobyl plant in ukraine are nearly three decades in to a decommissioning job that experts say could take a century to finish. they face high levels of radiation daily. the government is trying to keep them safe in various ways. the workers live in a specially-built town, 50 kilometers from the facility. they take a free train to the plant. a nurse is on board should they need any help. the government care goes much further than that, though.
this edition of nuclear watch is looking at how people tied to the cleanup of the fukushima daiichi accident here in japan are trying to learn lessons from chernobyl. nhk world went there to find out more. >> reporter: from japan visit ukraine to learn how officials manage the risks workers face. the japanese government has asked professor ozakach to advise the operator of fukushima daiichi on ways to protect crews from radiation. >> translator: we really want to learn from what you are doing here in ukraine. >> reporter: a government official told him the practices are based on lessons from the past. chernobyl was the world's worst
nuclear accident. the soviet union rushed thousands of poorly equipped workers to the plant to tackle the crisis. official figures at the time said 31 of them died within a few months. many others became seriously ill. government leaders in ukraine started implementing changes after the country gained independence following the fall of the soviet union. >> translator: the most important thing is to protect the life and health of workers. thorough measures are needed to manage their safety and well-being to prevent the risk of accidents or illness. >> reporter: professor okazaki went to see how staff carry out health screenings on the workers. they periodically check for more
than 200 types of illness, including heart disease. doctors also focus on the eyes. that's where the effects of radiation usually appear. they monitor balance, too. >> translator: health checkups are an indispensable aspect of our work. we're very grateful to medical institutions. >> reporter: okazaka learned that the national institution manages the resource. the centralized system enables doctors to quickly identity abnormalities and respond. the situation is quite different at fukushima daiichi. screening workers is left up to the contractors that supply the
facility. they are not obliged to submit data to the plant's operator or any national institution. professor says japan has much to learn from what's happening at chernobyl. >> translator: japan hasn't decided how far it wants to go to monitor the health of workers at fukushima daiichi. ukraine provides an example we should follow. >> reporter: he says japanese leaders should introduce a centralized system to collect health data right away. he's now preparing to submit his report to the government. mamoru ichikawa, nhk world, chernobyl, ukraine. there's a snowstorm in parts of the u.s. meteorologist robert speta has more on that. robert? >> hello, gene. yeah, we've been talking about this for a few days now, and
just in the past 24 hours the snow really has been coming down all across the eastern seaboard. even as far south as virginia beach. typically known for its warmer weather. actually, you've been seeing some significant snowfall due to this storm system. it started here. now it's pushing northeast. you can see on the satellite picture really starting to wrap up and become stronger and more intense, and still some areas out here you can see some significant snow totals. but you see all these lines really close together. that's creating almost blizzard-like conditions. so the wind is blowing. you have the snow, so reduced visibility. this is going to continue to move off towards the northeast, though, an additional 20 to 40 centimeters across the canadian maritimes. good news is improving behind it. but you will be digging out. already know that there is thousands of flights that have been canceled up and down the eastern seaboard because of this storm system already. it is going to continue to push northeast. the other thing is that cold air i mentioned, accompanied by the gusty winds, really is making for some bitterly cold
windchills. not to mention another system is going to be coming through. you can see chicago actually minus 8 with snow in your forecast on wednesday. that's because we're seeing another system in the dakotas over towards minneapolis, you currently have blizzard watches in effect. so a lot happening with this. also the cold air is not going anywhere any time soon. new york, you're warming up but you're going from minus 10 to minus 5, average for this time of year is right around 4. so, things are just going to be staying chilly for most of you here. at least going in to the weekend. now, take us over towards japan. where we are continuing to look at that cold air. but the good news, there's going to be a warm-up by the weekend. but thus far this week we have been seeing frigid air coming out from the northeast out of siberia across much of japan. and it's resulted in some unusual formations. i want to show you what's going on here in eastern parts of hokkaido. this is where you have been seeing what is called in
japanese the umai watari, it's the pressure rinks, ice from two floes that come together and create this up and down through the coastal areas. pretty beautiful to look at. but definitely showing you some of this very cold weather, these ice floes coming in, interacting and show up like that. the good news, it will be warming up so some of that will be melting off at least going into the weekend. we've been looking at the sea effect snow. that's going to start to dissipate out. clear skies coming in. reason is, high pressure, here it is. coming out of eastern china. that's going to taper off. even bring dry weather to the philippines. i know you've been just reeling from the severe flooding that has been occurring out here, and that's going to be improving by the weekend, as well. but this is going to push east. pull that warm air from the south along the eastern periphery, and your temperatures will be reflecting it. hong kong at 18. you'll be up into the mid 20s. tie pay, similar conditions for you. even in shanghai, the high teens
including tokyo, as well. you have partly cloudy skies throughout the rest of the week, and temperatures will get up to 16 degrees by saturday. but that's a look at your world weather. here's the extended forecast. that's "newsline" for this hour. i'm gene otani in tokyo. from all of us here at nhk world, thanks for joining us. oyj
>> we will be talking to the head of human rights watch at the world economic forum in davos, any tree for all of you star wars fans. you will get a glimpse of storm troopers like you have never seen them before. straight to our top news stories on "france 24." are gathering just outside geneva for the most serious effort yet to end the bloodshed in syria. regime -- the syrian regime and opposition meeting for the first time since the start of the civil war. the opposition went into the conference