. hello there, and welcome to "newsline." it's thursday, august 18, 8:00 a.m. in tokyo. i'm catherine kobayashi. japanese government investigators have learned that senior officials in charge of fukushima daiichi were kept in the dark on march 11th about a key event at the nuclear plant. they were unaware the emergency cooling system for reactor one had been manually shut down following the earthquake. the reactor was equipped with an
emergency cooling mechanism in the event the external power source was lost. tokyo electric power company officials told investigators that one worker suspected water had dried up in reactor one's system. he couldn't see the steam that signaled things were functioning properly. so the worker manually shut down the system to prevent it from being damaged. fukushima daiichi's chief masao yoshida wasn't informed. as a result, certain actions were taken on the assumption the system was working properly. yoshida reportedly said it was a major error he and other leaders did not immediately know about the manual shutdown of the cooling mechanism. tepco says the meltdown inside reactor one started five hours after the earthquake. that generated large amounts of hydrogen leading to an explosion the following day. nuclear expert koji okamoto says the lack of communication on march 11th affected the utility's response to the fukushima daiichi accident.
>> translator: if the leaders didn't know what was going on at the plant, the government probably didn't know either. this communication breakdown may have made the situation worse by delaying orders to remove residents who live nearby. fukushima daiichi has been emitting radiation for more than five months now, but the japanese government and tepco say the amount has been decreasing. it's now one-fifth of what it was a month ago. the government and tepco say maximum radiation levels around the facility during the past two weeks were 200 million becquerels per hour. that's one-ten millionth of the levels recorded in mid-march after the meltdown at the plant. nuclear crisis minister goshi hosono says there's no major change in the timetable for bringing fukushima daiichi under control. he adds that the goal continues to be processing contaminated wastewater and reducing radioactive emissions before
achieving cold shutdown of the reactors. hosono says the government will draw up a plan by the end of august for the decontamination of the evacuation zone around fukushima daiichi. the idea is to launch a model project early next month. experts say before the government allows displaced residents to return home, it'll be necessary to plug any new radiation leaks. on top of that, they say contaminated materials must be cleaned up along with the mud and sludge generated in that process. a nuclear reactor in northern japan has become the first to resume commercial operations since the march accident at fukushima daiichi. the nuclear and industrial safety agency authorized the number three unit at the tomari power plant in hokkaido to restart on wednesday. the reactor went into test mode in march following a routine checkup. this examination period usually lasts about a month, not five months.
inspectors carried out final checks last week, opening the door for the resumption of commercial operation. but, japan's central government didn't want to give the final go ahead until hokkaido officials agreed the reactor should restart. governor harumi takahashi gave her official approval on wednesday. later in the day, the nuclear and industrial safety agency issued a certificate marking the completion of the reactor's regular inspection. that means the unit has officially switched from test-run mode to commercial power generation. people who live near the tomari plant reacted cautiously. >> translator: it cannot be helped. i just want the plant to operate safely. >> translator: i'm worried what this village would be without a nuclear plant. i cannot easily say no.
line line line "nuclear watch" brings you insight on the impact of the fukushima daiichi crisis. and "the road ahead" examining japan's efforts to recover and rebuild. don't miss "nuclear watch" and "the road ahead" on "newsline." u.s. vice president joe biden is now in china on the first leg of his asian tour. one objective of the trip is to build a relationship with the likely successor to the president. biden is expected to hold wide-ranging talk with the vice president during his six-day visit. many believe that she will take over from president hu in 2012. the two will meet for discussions and dinner. they'll also visit szechuan province, which was devastated by a major earthquake in 2008.
white house national security adviser on asian affairs daniel russell says one of biden's main goals is to strengthen ties with shi. he says this is an investment in the future china-u.s. relation. discussions are expected to touch on the global economy, china's nuclear program, and north korea's attempt to buy f-16 fighter jets. china is the largest foreign holder of american bonds. following his trips to china and mongolia, biden will head to japan. he'll spend three days in this country starting next monday. the u.s. vice president will meet prime minister nato kahn. he'll also travel to sendai city to observe reconstruction efforts following the march 11 disaster. the indian government is attempting to calm growing protests following the arrest of an anti-corruption campaigners.
police detain anna hazare on tuesday as he was about to stage a public hunger strike in new delhi to demand the government act immediately against corruption. his arrest triggered protests across india. his supporters call hazare's jailing undemocratic. in parliament, opposition lawmakers are also increasing their criticism against the government. in an attempt to ease tensions, the government offered to release hazare who has been staging a hunger strike in jail. but he has refused to leave and is demanding freedom of assembly. in a bid to resolve the standoff, the government began negotiating with hazare's supporters on wednesday to allow him to hold a planned rally for a limited period. the situation is putting more pressure on the prime minister who is already under fire for rampant corruption and surging prices. a british court has sentenced two men to four years in jail for inciting disorder
using a social networking site during the recent riots. the rioting early this month spread from london to other cities. police have so far arrested 1,700 people. on tuesday, a court in chester handed down sentences to the two men, aged 20 and 22. the men posted messages on facebook encouraging rioting and looting. >> they decided in that court to send a tough sentence, a tough message, and i think it's very good the courts feel able to do that. >> human rights activists say that the riots that the two men tried to planned never happened, and their sentences were harsher than those caught stealing clothing during the unrest. former soviet leader mikhail gorbachev has criticized the russian government for moving backward toward what he calls soviet authoritarianism.
. >> translator: our country should continue to follow the path of democracy. >> translator: our country should continue to follow the path of democracy. it should not imitate the bad points of the soviet communist party. >> the coup attempt in 1991 led to the collapse of the soviet union four months later. at wednesday's news conference, gorbachev was critical of the coup, saying the soviet union could have been preserved through reforms. he said prime minister vladimir putin deserves credit for helping russia out of the chaotic years after the fall of the soviet union. but he questioned putin's stance of holding on to the post of premier. >> translator: putin would have been remembered in history if he had quit politics after ending his presidential term.
china is in the midst of a pet boom. and it's not just your regular house cat that's in demand. it's rare and exotic species. for affluent dog lovers, the breed to have is the tibetan mastiff. >> reporter: no, it's not a lion. tibet an mastiffs are from western china. standing guard over homes and livestock. they have religious status in the homes. they are called dog of the gods. outside of tibet, the himalayan hounds are now overrunning the markets in beijing. prices start at $3,000.
some sell for more than $30,000. this buyer is from the northeastern city of habin. >> translator: this is a brave and attractive looking tibetan dog. i'm really happy to buy it. >> reporter: the canine trade is booming. there are more than 100 markets like this across the country. this 44-year-old keeps 10 tibetan mastiffs in beijing. this 2-year-old male is his favorite, and most expensive. $77,000. >> translator: this one has thick legs and big eyes. this pedigree of tibetan dog is not easy to come by. it is very precious.
>> reporter: he rented 1,000 square meters of ground next to his home for their exclusive use. a walker caters to all their needs. it costs $43,000 a year to feed his dogs and pay the staff. in tibet, these proud beasts stood watch for their masters. here, it is the mastiffs that have to be protected. a security guard patrols the compound around the clock. have now become a status symbol of the affluent. >> reporter: a growing price is being put on the tibetan dogs.
he is the head of a construction firm in beijing. he went to tibet three years ago to make his first purchase. >> translator: that tibetan dog you looked at yesterday, i can lower the price by around $90,000. do you want it? >> reporter: today, he keeps more than 100 mastiffs at his breeding centers. he focuses on rare dogs. they bring in good income. dog contests add value. past winners raise the profit of breeders. his reputation is well established. on this day, he gets a visit from a beijing trader. a well groomed specimen is presented, along with its
pedigree certificates. >> translator: the price is $230,000. i can't mark it down. >> translator: no discount? >> translator: that is the lowest i can go. >> reporter: he is still holding his groubtd. ground the final price $230,000, double what he paid for it. the dog will be sold at the beijing market. dog breeders make a good living. he bought a new car last month. his next purchase will be an apartment. >> translator: the cost of tibetan dogs are rising year by year, making it a very attractive investment. it's a seller's market right now, and a good source of profits.
>> reporter: the run-up in prices may not last. but one thing is clear. the mountain guard dog is now an urban trophy. and much like china's bounding economy, there's no going back. nhk world, beijing. clearly a flourishing trade, but it does have its critics. they say the mountain dogs are not adapting well to the urban environment. and are dying of illnesses. another problem is the dwindling number of pure blood tibetan mastiffs. a bubble around developed around the market. but like all bubbles, it could very well burst if not properly managed. true dog lovers will surely be keeping an eye on this one. rescuers in central japan
continue their search for three people after a fatal accident on a river. a sightseeing boat capsized on wednesday, killinga the least two people. fire department officials say the boat was carrying 23 people, including the crew and a tour guide. it capsized on the river. two women in their 60s and 70s died, and four others were sent to the hospital. the operator of the sightseeing tour says the boat did not have a motor, and was powered by the crew. it says the river was slow moving during most of the 50-minute tour, except where the boat capsized. that part of the river is known for its strong current. the operator says it advised children to put on life jackets during the trip, and that adults also had access to life preservers. japan's transport safety board is sending a team to investigate the accident. the website of another japanese company has been
illegally accessed. this time it's japanese edition of the british science journal "nature." "nature," japan says, its website was hacked on july 1st. the names and e-mail addresses of about 14,000 of its 190,000 registered website users were stolen. the credit card information of a number of subscribers was also leaked with minor unauthorized purchases made from more than ten other cards. nature japan says it found out about the hacking in early july and reported it to the police. the magazine says it has apologized to its website users and pledged to improve the security of its website. a new type of endo scope that can be moved freely inside the digestive system is gaining attention in medical circles. the self-propelling capsule endoscope developed by japanese researchers will help detect digestive diseases at an early stage.
>> reporter: this little machine swimming around in the water is the new self-propelling capsule endoscope. the capsule is equipped with a fin, allowing doctors to control it remotely. the device can screen the did i gue digestive system for up to eight hours. the capsule is 46 millimeters along and 11.2 millimeters wide. it's roughly the same diameter as a conventional endoscope. capsules are nothing new, but this latest model can be controlled remotely by physicians. when examinations are completed, the endoscope is kpreeted. -- excreted. this professor developed the endoscope with a team at osaka medical college.
>> translator: it will enable us to examine from the stomach to the intestines. the device is a groundbreaking improvement in medical checkups. >> reporter: a patient swallows this new endoscope just as they would any other capsule endoscope. he was the first to try the device. this image shows the capsule endoscope moving inside his stomach. the patient said he felt no discomfort after swallowing it. the machine fires a flash twice a second, while traveling around inside the stomach to screen its walls. this is the image produced by the endoscope. the doctor and his team say the device offers a real breakthrough in digestive screening, as it can enter the small intestine, an organ that's currently very difficult to examine. the small intestine is the
longest portion of the digestive tract. about 67 meters long. it's a flexible tube that twists and turns inside the body. conconventional endoscopes can't reach very far into the coiled organ. but the self-propelling endoscope will allow doctors to examine every part of the complex bowel in detail, as it can be moved in any direction. >> translator: the small intestine has been very difficult to examine, and has been called the dark zone. but the bowel may be responsible for various disorders, including stomach aches for which causeds have not yet been identified. so i believe examinations of the small intestine are very important. >> reporter: in may, the team unveiled their latest endoscope at a conference on digestive diseases. with the new device, doctors
will have a better chance of detecting diseases in the small intestine, which may be otherwise overlooked. it should help doctors detect bleeding caused by anti-inflammatory pain medicines. and crohn's disease, an unexplained illness that causes ulcers along the small intestine walls. the team has concluded tests using the device inside artificial small intestines and plans to carry out human trials on a human small intestine within the year. >> translator: we can remote control our device inside the body, but we want to have better command of it. i also want to improve the device to make it easier to use so it can be implemented at any medical institution. >> reporter: despite its small size, the self-propelling
capsule endoscope holds enormous promise for better detection of digestive problems. now let's take a look at the markets. the dollar briefly fell close to a record low against the yen in new york on wednesday on persistent concerns about the u.s. economic outlook. the greenback temporarily dropped to 76.41 yen, which is near the record low of 76.25 yen set several days after the march 11 earthquake and tsunami hit eastern japan. market players say concerns about a possible u.s. economic slowdown remain strong, prompting traders to sell the dollar in favor of other currencies. they say the dollar selling is also being driven by speculation that u.s. federal reserve chairman ben bernanke may discuss additional monetary easing measures in a lecture next week. now here is a look at the market figures.
downpours today. especially throughout the night, looking at torrential downpours to occur in tohoku as much as 180 millimeters could fall into your friday morning, so that certainly is increasing the risk of flooding as well as landslides. strong wind gusts to watch out for as well. but we've got that heavy rain. temperatures looking fairly moderate today. 25 degrees up in almori. 35 degrees in tokyo, but hopefully a bit of a respite on friday. across the northern section of china, we are going to be seeing ongoing rain over the next few days. the heaviest rain could occur today, but looking at that widespread rain to stay put over the next few days. here we're looking at high flooding risk as well. down in the south, it does stay dry. very humid, mind you, and heat wave continues will continue.
41 degre 41. now taking a look at the americas, severe thunderstorms and heavy rain impacting central canada. that will pull away tonight. but for the midsections of the u.s., we will start to see in severe conditions develop, especially for nebraska, colorado, tonight. looking at the possibility of large hail, strong wind gusts as well. and as we head into your thursday, similar areas will continue to see similar conditions. becoming a bit more widespread, stretching into south dakota and minnesota as well. but again, we're looking at the possibility of torrential downpours as well as strong thunderstorms. line of showers will prevail along the four corners, and then into western mexico. isolated heavy rain is expected here as well. tropical storm greg nearby. it continues to move in a northwesterly direction. thundershowers in mexico city today. 23 degrees. 39 in houston.
same goes for oklahoma city. and then winnipeg coming in at 30 degrees. very hot day out here. now for europe, we are looking at a very long and active frontal system, stretches across western russia. again we are seeing widespread heavy rain as well as lots of thunderstorms occurring here. so very, very unstable conditions. out towards the west, a rain band moving into france. fairly scattered rain, but isolated areas should watch out for heavy downpours as well as strong thunderstorms, brushing against the southern u.k. as well and then eventually spreading into the low counties. london at 19 degrees with heavy rain. very warm in paris. 29. but with thundershowers. vienna warms up. stays hot in madrid, 36 degrees with the sunshine. here is your extended forecast now.