welcome to nhk "newsline." we're coming to you life from tokyo. i'm james tengan. south korean and u.s. military officials are analyzing pyongyang's latest missile launch. u.s. officials say it exploded seconds after takeoff and they are condemning the attempt. south korean defense officials say the launch took place on wednesday morning from an
eastern coastal city where other missiles have been launched. they are trying to figure out what type of missile it was. u.s. officials called on pyongyang to stop provocations that threaten peace and stability. earlier this month, pyongyang fired four ballistic missiles into the sea of japan. they're believed to be extended-range scuds that can fly about 1,000 kilometers. north korea announced the launch was in response to ongoing u.s./south korean military drills. the two countries say they are stepping up their monitoring. wednesday's launch follows the u.s. secretary of state's visit to the region in which he said, a military option was on the table to deal with the north. at a news conference i in seoul rex tillerson set a new direction for american policy on the matter. he declared the end of what the obama administration called strategic patience. japan's chief cabinet secretary yoshihide suga said the country's national security has not been affected and the
government is currently analyzing the situation. amid rising concerns over the launch, north korea says in a few weeks, it will convene its parliament. the annual supreme peopople's assembly will be held next month in pyongyang. the session decides the country's budget, legal amendments, and other decisions by the ruling party. observers will be focusing on a possible reshuffle of high-ranking officials and are warning it could be a time for the north to carry out provocative acts. it coincides with the fifth anniversary of kim jong-un taking on the top post of the ruling workers party. the 105th anniversary of the birth of kim's grandfather, north korean founder kim il-sung, follows. there's been a development in the case of a school operator in western japan. it had planned to open a school on land it purchased from the state for far below market value. the court has approved the temporary seizure of its assets.
the land was bought last year for less than 20% of its appraised value. it's also accused of receiving a state subsidy based on false documents. it gave up a plan to open an elementary school after lawmakers raised questions about the land deal. officials from the construction company hired to build the school say they haven't received payments, and they're afraid they may not be able to recover about $9 million. so they asked the court to seize the property of a school run by the operator. he has been making headlines with controversial remarks. he alleges the prime minister donated about $9,000 for the planned school. shinzo abe has denied making any donations. he also denies any involvement in the land deal. lawmakers will summon kogike to testify in the diet on thursday. japan's prime minister has
wrapped up his european trip and once again called for unity amid rising concerns over protectionism. shinzo abe met with the italian prime minister before returning to japan. >> reporter: the role of the g7 is becoming more important as a leader of international order based on free and open rule. >> both leaders say they'll continue to pursue that objective as italy is the host of the next g7 summit. >> translator: we would like to deepen discussions at the next summit following japan. >> paolo gentiloni also says freedom of navigation in the south and east china seas is extremely important for world trade. he and abe agreed on taking a balanced approach in the region. the day before abe met with e.u. leaders and agreed cooperation between japan and the e.u. is
more important than ever. both sides say they will continue to work closely to maintain and reinforce free trade and maritime security. zblrvel the british government says it's joining the u.s. in banning most electronic devices from the cabins of flights from certain countries. leaders from both countries say it's part of the fight against terrorism. the u.s. has imposed the restriction on direct flights from eight predominantly muslim countries in the middle east and africa. britain has six countries on its list. passengers flying to the u.s. or uk from those countries will have to check in all devices bigger than a mobile phone. they include laptops and tablets. a senior u.s. government official said they have information that terrorist groups are looking to target civilian airlines. the british government says it took the measure after careful discussion with the u.s. the american civil liberties union has denounced the ban, saying it's simply another way to target muslim travelers.
now turning to business headlines. tokyo shares tanked following sharp declines in the u.s. we go to gene otani for the latest updates on the markets. >> major indexes on wall street posted the worst performance since the u.s. presidential election, and that pulled down stocks in tokyo. the nikkei average dropped to its lowest level since february. the stronger yen and sagging bank shares also weighed heavily on investor sentiment. our business reporter has more from the tokyo stock exchange. >> investors were shedding stocks on the doubts that president donald trump's pledges of deregulation, tax cuts, and pro growth policies will materialize any time soon. take a look at the closing levels for this wednesday, march 22nd. the nikkei 225 fell 2.1%, closing at 19,041. the index saw its worst performance since november 9th. the broader topix also lost the same margin. let's now check currency levels.
the dollar dropped to a four-month low, hitting the lower 111 yen level in earlier tokyo hours. many traders sold the greenback as they sought to limit risks on those doubts about u.s. policy. looking at individual stocks, financials were hammered, tracking their u.s. counterparts as bond yields fell. insurance companies such as dai. ichi life holdings, and banks like mitsubishi ufj all tumbled. looking ahead to thursday, we have federal resererve chair jat yellen speaking. market players are eyeing her speech after the fed took a relatively dovish outlook on rate hikes last week. other benchmarks across the asia pacific region joined the selloff on the unclear outlook for trump's policies. seoul's cospi retreated half a percent from tuesday's six-year high. the shanghai composite snapped two days of gains on speculation that authorities may tighten
control over financial markets. hong kong's hang seng index declining by 1.1% as we see 24,320 the closing number. the benchmark hit a 20-month high on tuesday. in sydney, falling more than 1.5% to its lowest in six weeks. a drop in commodity prices weighed on the benchmark. shoppers in japan are buying less at department stores. sales at the retailers for february dropped for the 12th month in a row. sales were down 1.7% year on year. officials attribute the fall to a calendar with one less business day and sluggish sales of spring clothes. they also cite limited benefits from government-backed campaign to boost consumption. february saw the first so-called premium friday when companies are encouraged to let companies off early on the last friday of
the month. supermarket sales also fell 3.3%. ey marked the third consecutive month of decline. the shorter calendar was one reason, but businesses also blamed weak sales of some seafood due to smaller catches and high prices. the latest data shows japan's trade balance swung back into the black in february. officials at the finance ministry say last month's trade surplus stood at around $7.3 billion. imports were up 1.2% in yen terms from a year earlier. that's as production cuts by opec countries lifted crude oil prices. exports were up by a much wider margin coming in 11% higher. customers in china have brought in more japanese car parts. u.s. president trump has been criticizing japan for its trade surplus with the u.s. that figure for february rose for the first time in three
months to about $5.5 billion. transport officials have told japanese automakers to improi improve how they gather fuel economy data. the move comes after a series of mileage scandals hit the industry last year. carmaker currently obtain fuel figures for their catalog at indoor test sites under controlled conditions. but data obtained in this way often differs from real world performance. the gap is said to be from 10% to 40%. an expert panel of the transport ministry has now ordrdered automakers to collect four types of data. methods include driving through urban areas affected by traffic jams, data from expressway conditions are also required. manufacturers will be obliged to use the new methods for vehicles to go on sale from october next year. fallouout from a scandal in one of the world's biggest meat
exportrting nations is spreadin across the world. brazilian investigators are looking into allegations that products from meat packing companies have been evading inspections. a number of countries have started suspending imports. the authorities have searched 21 companies suspecteded of bribin government officials to avoid inspections and selling meat that didn't clear the country's health standards. inspectors have still not disclosed the amount of substandard meat sold or when sales took place. the authorities have closed the factories being probed and temporarily banned them from exporting. products of the firms have also been removed from local stores. authorities in other countries are also taking action. china and chile have stopped importing brazilian meat. japan's chief cabinet secretary yoshshihide suga says japan has suspended import clearance from all 21 countries. mandarin oranges are a
popular japanese treat. our next story focuses on a farmer who has found sweet success by using the citrus to make premium juice. his attention to quality and detail has won praise from top hotels. >> reporter: this juice is much thicker than your average orange juice. in a 180 millimeter bottle carries an eye-popping price tag of $10. 70,000 are sold annually, mainly to luxury hotels. this is the producer. chemical fertilizers have no place in his garden. he does his best to draw out the fruit's natural sweetness. the idea of making juice grew out of a challenge. smaller than average fruit. 70% of his crop does not meet the standard shipment size. if he sold it for processing, he'd make less than 10 cents per kilogram.
>> translator: they're sweet but too small. actually, the taste is very good. >> reporter: his solution was to make his own brand of juice. he built a plant at his orchard and installed a special juicer from the united states that can extract both the juice and the pulp. the machine costs about $13,000 a year to lease. he manually removes the peels and seeds but keeps the pulp. he goes the extra mile to retain the fruit's original texture and taste. he also immersed himself in research on heat treating the juice to prevent fermentation. he tested hundreds of methods, fine tuning temperature and time in the process. >> translator: too much heat sterilization kills the scents
and flavor. it all comes down to how much of the fresh aroma you can keep. >> reporter: his mekon juice is now shipped to seven hotels in tokyo, osaka and other places. bookings at this luxury hotel start at around $800 per night. since it opened three years ago, his juice has been a fixture in the guest t rooms, cafe and restaurant. >> translator: great balance of sweetness and acidity. and the texture is wonderful. our guests enjoy it very much. >> reporter: there's another reason his product has won praise. he adjusts the flavor for each client. for hotels frequented by europeans and americans, he enhances the acidity. for those that cater mainly to southeast asian visitors, sweetness is the key. >> translalator: we askeked him test many, many blends. he is meticulous about the details. we enjoy working with him very
much. >> reporter: his efforts have paid off. he sells about $700,000 worth of juice each year. >> translator: a product's true value lies in how much time and effort you put into it. there's muchch more i can do in terms of squeezing and heating the fruit. i only ship out products that i'm satisfied with. >> reporter: word about the juice is spreading. it's now sold at a japanese department store in malaysia, and he hopes it will soon become available in other countries too. >> and you can catch our report again online together with a full transcript. look for nhk world and business wrap. that's a look at business news. i'm going to leave you with the markets.
prosecutors in south korea are going over answers given to them by the former president as they weigh whether to seek an arrest warrant for her or indict her without arrest. it's in relation to the political scandal that ousted park geun-hye from office. prosecutors finished questioning her by midnight, but it took hours for them to get park and her lawyers to confirm written documents of the interrogation. she spent more than 21 hours in the office before being allowed to return home. she's reportedly denied all allegations. park also didn't reply to questions by reporters. it was the first time
investigators have been able to question her over links to the corruption scandal that ousted her from office. she's facing the possibility of 13 charges. they include alleged collusion with a long-time friend to receive over $30 million in bribes from samsung. she's also suspected of extortion by coercing other conglomerates to give money to two foundations run by that friend. another accusation is abuse of power. she allegedly ordered a close aide and the then-culture minister to draw up a blacklist of thousands of artists deemed unfriendly to her. park is the fourth former president to be questioned over criminal allegations, but she's the first to be forced out of office by impeachment. earlier katherine kobayashi spoke with our reporter covering the story in seoul.
>> it was a long day for park. how did she seem when she emerged from all those hours of questioning? >> reporter: well, katherine, it won't come as a surprise that park looked quite tired when she left the prosecutor's office this morning. unlike when she arrived on tuesday morning, park did not stop to make a statement. but when she reached her home in southern seoul, she smiled and said hello to her supporters who had essentially been camped out waiting for her return. >> but park didn't speak to media. has her legal team said anything? >> reporter: one of her lawyers sent a mobile message to reporters, but the team feels prosecutors are taking a more neutral approach than the constitutional court that upheld her impeachment. the insinuation is that the previous court ruling was politically charged. the lawyer added the truth might come out through the interrogation. >> park has said that in the past. the next big question is, what now?
>> reporter: it's whether or not prosecutors will seek an arrest warrant. so far they have avoided directly commenting on the issue. but they reportedly said there is no plplan to question park again. experts are divided over what happens next. some feel there will be an arrest warrant issued, while others think prosecutors will indict park without detention. out of three other former presidents who were questioned by prosecutors, two were arrested and convicted. ♪ ♪ now for sports. japan has lost to team usa in the semifinal of the world baseball classic. japan last took the title in 2009.
the game was played at a rainy dodger stadium in los angeles on tuesday. japan's starting pitcher sugano threw well, but in the fourth inning, second baseman kikuchi committed an error that lead to team usa's first run. kikuchi later atoned by blasting a home run in the sixth inning. the u.s. scored the decisive run in the eighth when third baseman matsura bobbled a grounder. the score was 2-1. team usa will now try to win its first wbc championship against puerto rico in the finals. board game battles between humans and artificial intelligence are becoming more common around the world. what's more, they are showing possiblele uses for the technoly that go well beyond the board. nhk world's shikako tanaka has the story.
>> reporter: l like a parent watching a child compete, kato watches the performance of his ai program. it's facing off against a chinese master o of the ancient strategy board game that's more complicated than chess. kato places the pieces for the program. in the end, the program loses. but that is still impressed. >> translator: to be honest, i'm surprised at how well it played in the game. >> translator: i didn't expect the mistake. i also ran into trouble in the final phase. i could have lost the game if it wasn't't for my y opponent's's mistake. >> reporter: kato's team relies on the latest developments to strengthen its software. they have been using cutting-edge a.i. technology known as deep learning, which allows the computer to learn on its own.
it learns from matches it has played and data from other games. so far, that's over a million matches. because deep zen go never gets tired, it can keep on learning without needing to rest. >> for scientists, it's a good way to see what a.i. can do. so it's a good benchmark. >> reporter: he says that benchmark has potential for finding patterns that can improve daily life. >> it can be applied, for example, to find the best routes for bus lines, the best trains, the train companies also work on ai technologies to improve the schedules of the trains. >> reporter: as for worries that a.i. technology will leave people out of a job one day, he sees it as an opportunity. >> people that will not do these jobs anymore, they can move on to do different jobs t that are
more creative where ththey can actually use their imagination and use their creative mind. >> reporter: a.i. is a fast-evolving technology. while we don't know how it will change our lives just yet, the hope is it will be for the better. chikako tanaka, nhk world, tokyo. you're watching nhk "newsline" live from tokyo. cherry blossom viewing is a cherished seasonal past time for many japanese. let's see what the outlook for us in tokyo is like with sayaka mori from our weather desk. >> typically the blossoms start to come out five days later but yesterday the flowers started to bloom in tokyo. typically it takes one week to reach full bloom this time. temperatures are expected to be cooler than normal. it will be around april 1st in tokyo. so, yesterday the flowers started to come out in tokyo and temperatures are going to be a little cooler from friday into next week. it should be around 15 degrees
but only 10 degrees on saturday in tokyo. rainy weather is expected on monday. now the start of the bloom will likely around next week in osaka and then in april in the tohoku region and in may in sapporo. so within the next month we will see colorful, beautiful pink colors in many places of japan. now, as for the north, actually wintry weather is gripping hokkaido. over the past 24 hours, nearly 40 centimetersf f snow hasas fallen in parts of hokkaido and more snowy weather is expected as we go into tomorrow. rain will likely spread over the southwestern islands of japan into tomorrow. temperatures for asia are as follows. 15 in seoul. down to 8 in beijing with rainy weather on thursday. and rainy wither in hong kong as well. and partly sunny wither in manila with a high of 34 degrees. let's go to north america. severe weather happened on tuesday across the southeastern
corner of the country. we have numerous reports of damaging winds as well as hail in south carolina. hail as large asas baseballs fe. also in georgigia, a tree fell down on a home, killing one person, unfortunately. now rainy weather istillll occurring across the carolinas. but that weather will likely move away as we go into tomorrow. then across the oppositete sidef the nation, we're e expectctinge heavy rainllll across s the wes coast. seattle will see one more day of wet weather and rainy weather will likely happen in los angeles as well. temperatures are going to be as follows. 17 in los angeles. seattle at 12 degrees. but on thursday, drier weather is expected to come back. still on the hot side in denver, 24 degrees. down to minus 1 in winnipeg. out toward the east, down to the single digits in places like washington, d.c. as well as new york city. sunny weather is expected on your hump day. let's go to eueurope. bad weweather is expected acros the western areas of the continent. we're expecting quite a lot of heavy rainfall across the
british isles and down toward the iberian peninsula, thunderstorms expected. and these systems are slow movers. soso bad weather will kekely continue into the weekekend. temperatures a goioing down.n. even madrid may see some snowfall on your thursday so bundle up. temperatures are going to be as follows. 11 in paris. london, you'll see rainy weather with a high of 9 degrees. 9 for stockholm. now yesterday, on monday actually, spring began in the northern hemisphere but some places are still seeing some snowfall and there's a very unique hotel in sweden. sweden's ice hotel founded in 1989, it's t the first hotel ma of ice and snow in the world. the hotel is located 200 kilometers north of the arctic circle. the ice is f from a nearby rive. a tourist can also experience dog sled touours and ice fishin in the village. all l right, that's it foror me. here's your extended forecast.
genie: this is france. time for 60 minutes live around the world to read i'm genie godula. these are the headlines. belgium marks the one-year anniversary of the worst terror attack in its history. blew suicide bombers themselves up in brussels at the airport and in the subway. a new nepotism scandal in france. the interior minister abruptly a probe i after