glad to have you with us on this edition of "newsline." it's friday november 21st. i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. political leaders in japan are about to hit the campaign trail. members of governing and opposition parties don't have much time to prepare. prime minister shinzo abe is set to dissolve the lower house on friday. abe and cabinet members met on friday morning to sign official papers. they will set the election for december 14. the lower chamber will be disbanded in the afternoon and abe will hold a news conference. he has pledged to win the vote. he said he will speed up the implementation of measures and deliver the benefits of economic
recovery to all corners of the nation. >> translator: i am determined to clarify whether the government's growth strategy is right or wrong. and whether there are other ways to replace it. >> the main issue of the election is abenomics, the prime minister's economic policies. le the last general election took place two years ago. a u.s. congressional panel says china's advancing military capabilities will challenge those of america and japan. the warning is in the u.s.-china economic and security review commission's annual report. it says that chinese president xi jinping appears to have more control over policy than his predecess predecessor, and he's pursuing a more active role for china in regional and international
affairs. the report indicates his approach is ratcheting up tension with japan over the senkaku islands in the east china sea and with southeast asian nations over islands in the south china sea. china and taiwan claim them. the panel notes the chinese military is rapidly advancing its space development and has tested a hypersonic weapon vehicle that can travel at more than five times the speed of sound. the committee warns all u.s. military satellites could be under threat from chinese forces in five to ten years. chinese nuclear force might also be more of a threat. professor robert sutter says that china's activity undermines u.s. interests in asia. >> we want to get along with china, and we hope they will be collaborative with us as we go forward, but we have to keep our powder dry. we have to be prudent.
>> sutter says the u.s. needs a stronger alliance with japan and south korea to counter chinese activity. japan and taiwan have been increasing exchanges of people and commerce. and those of both sides have signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at boosting ties. it covers tourism, immigration control and nuclear safety. they concurred japan and taiwan will promote tourism by sharing information. the officials also agreed to allow their immigration control officers to directly contact each other. this will enable them to respond swiftly to emergencies. more than 2 million taiwanese traveled to japan this year between january and october. by adding in the number of japanese visitors to taiwan, more than 4 million people will have traveled between the two sides by year end. moscow and pooe
they talked about political and economic cooperation. he also delivered a letter to russian president vladimir putin from kim jong unand described it as an important factor in building relations. >> reporter: this could include a summit at a time favorable to both sides. >> lavrov also said russia is ready to exceed with a plan to export energy. it would send coal, gas and electricity to south korea from the north. he is expected to visit cities in the far east to discuss economic cooperation with business owners.
russian president vladimir putin wants tougher measures to counter extremism and protests. he told members of his security council demonstrations in ukraine and other countries led to a change in power warned them to take action to prevent anti-government movements. putin spoke at a meeting on combatting extremism. he referred to toppling of governments in former soviet republics ukraine an georgia following an uprise known as color revolutions. putin says russia sees the tragic consequences the wave of such revolutions led to. he pointed out concern about outside interference. he said the color revolution resulted from foreign meddling. putin said russia should do everything necessary to prevent similar events. he said they must act before radical influences spread through the internet and other media. the leaders of ukraine, moldova, and poland have reaffirmed their intention to
maintain pro-european policies and not yield to pressure from russia. ukraine's presidential office announced the leaders of the three countries met in moldova on thursday. at the meeting ukrainian president petro poroshenko stressed linking up with europe is the only option. he said both ukraine and moldova will continue their efforts to join the european union with the support of poland. moldovan president emphasized his policy of promoting political and economic reform in his country with the assistance of the eu. his country will hold a parliamentary election on november 30th. polish president who is a hardliner against russia showed his support for the remarks of poroshenko. the three presidents met out of concern for russia's influence in separatist eastern ukraine and fear that russia may try to meddle in moldova's general election. the united nations human rights agency warns that the
situation in contested areas of eastern ukraine is getting worse. officials estimate that nearly 1,000 people have been killed since a cease-fire was established in september. the u.n. released a report on the human rights situation in eastern ukraine. it says at least 4,300 people have been killed in fighting between government forces and pro-russian rebels since mid-april. the report also says a number of internally displaced people has surged to nearly 470,000 as of wednesday. the figure rose by 190,000 over the last 2 months. u.n. high commissioner for human rights zeid ra'ad al hussein said that all parties must work harder to resolve this protracted crisis peacefully in line with international laws. people in the u.s. say a car safety device that was supposeded to save lives ended
up takiing them instead. now they're confronting officials at the japanese firm that made the product. ai uchida joins us from the business desk. >> right, catherine. families of at least five people say the air bags exploded and killeded their loved ones, and they want someone to take responsibility. well, executives have confronted a u.s. congressional hearing and apologized for three deaths. senior vice president for global quality assurance testified about accidents linked to the produc product. >> we are deeply sorry about each of the reported instances in which the air bag has not performeded as designed and the driver or passenger has suffered personal injuries or deaths. >> an executive vice president of honda north carolina also addressed the hearing. he said the company should have reported problems faster.
a woman injured in an accident last year testified. stephanie lost sight in one of her eyes. she blames the takata air bag in her honda civic. she said car makers haven't -- she said the carmaker hasn't handled the problem the right way. honda's representative said the firm wanted to put customer safety first, and he apologized to people who have been affected. >> we understand the urgency of the current situation and are taking proactive steps to encourage honda and acura owners to get their vehicles repaired. >> executives at the carmaker have recalled more than 6 million cars worldwide. shimizu said takata hasn't found any problem with the way it has conducted recalls. he said takata accepts responsibility for three deaths but that two others are still being investigated. lawmakers blame takata and honda for not doing enough to uphold safety standards. they called for an independent
investigation. >> i want to know from someone in your company under oath whether those standards were applieded to every airbag design. >> i think your company is making a big mistake in not supporting this recall wholeheartedly. >> the family member of a woman who died in an incident in 2003 attended the hearing. kim spoke about the loss of her sister, 24-year-old charlene weaver. >> the airbag is what killed my sister. we firmly believe that what was intended to save lives actually took tigger's life. that's why i'm here today to do what i can to ensure this does not happen again, that another family does not have to experience what we have. >> a senior official of the
national highway traffic safety administration also spoke. he said the authority will ask other manufacturers to provide parts to repair faulty takata airbags. he indicated this will be necessary to carry out a nationwide recall requested by the administration. he said people at takata hasn't provided all the information about the problem. in other news, people at japanese companies pay a corporate tax rate that's among the highest in the developed world. they hand over about 35% of their earnings. government officials want to lower the rate to between 20% and 30% over the next few years. they have drawn up plans to finance a reduction in the tax by more than 2.5 percentage points over three years starting next april. under current rules, even big companies that are in the red have to pay the tax. the government hopes to impose the levy on a wider range of companies to help finance a
corporate tax cut of 1.5%. officials will also review a special tax break for large companies carrying losses and increased taxes on dividends from shares. but some in the government and ruling parties want to go further. lawmakers will resume discussions on tax reform after the lower house election scheduleded in december. now let's check on markets. toek stokyo stocks opened lower. nikkei now trading lower by 0.7%. many following the disillusion of the lower hougs expecteded later today. now onto currencies. the dollar is trading at the -- now trading below 118 yen level. this is after it approached 119 yen on thursday. analysts say some traders are selling the dollar to take advantage of recent gains.
but many in the market are expecting the weakening trend in the yen to continue. policymakers at the the u.s. federal reserve are leaning towards higher interest rates. japan on the other hand is boosting its monetary easing measures, making the dollar more attractive to investors. let's take alook at what's happening. kospi is up by 3% this morning. let's see what's happening in australia. the benchmark index down under in the negative, down a touch this morning. so a bit of a mixed picture in the asian-pacific. i'll be back next hour with more of your business headlines. here's a check on some of your other markets.
four insurgents have died after trying to break into a complex housing foreign workers in the afghan capital. the assault is the latest in a series of high-profile attacks against foreigners in afghanistan. the attack began on wednesday night with an explosion near the gate of the the green village complex. >> translator: a vehicle carrying four suicide attackers swarmeded the gate. three of the attackers were killed and the other blew himself up with the vehicle. >> there are no civilian or military casualties. the taliban has claimed responsibility for the assault. a day earlier a truck bomb ripped through the outer perimeter of another foreign compound in kabul, killing at least two security guards. the u.s.-led international
forces are scheduled to withdraw most of the troops by the end of the year. militants are intensifying attacks on foreign troops, afghan government officials and security forces. officials in south korea have held a disaster drill at the nuclear plant in the country's south, along with the representatives of japanese and chinese governments. this is the first time for the three countries to participate in a drill in south korea. south korea's nuclear regulators staged the exercise on thursday. the scenario involved an earthquake in pusan, triggering a release of materials from the plant. about 7,600 people took part, including those from the south korean military, pli police andl residents. they examined challenges expected to arise during an emergency response, such as evacuating residents using public transportation systems. they also discussed with japanese and chinese officials how the three nations will share information and cooperate to deal with accidents.
researchers in northeastern japan are investigating the effects of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami on spawning salmon. they want to see if there's any difference between fish formed before and after the disaster. a spawning salmon normally returns to its birthplace when it reaches three to five years of age. a highly developed sense of smell allows the fish to identify the river where it spent its early life. however, the disaster in 2011 and following reconstruction work greatly altered the riverbeds in northeastern japan. researchers at the university of tokyo's atmosphere and ocean research institute taggeded 70 salmon caught at a bay. to track the fish, radio receivers were placed around the bay and at river mouths. a trial study last year found 6 out of 18 salmon born before the
disaster made their way upstream. seven salmon never entered rivers at all. the current study focuses on how the fish travel upstream according to their date of birth. the age of each salmon is estimated by examining the number of rings on a fish scale under a mike microscope. >> translator: much of salmon behavior remains a mystery. we wanteded to help revive the fishery in areas affected by the disaster. >> the research will continue until winter, and a follow-up study is also planned for the same period next year. a japanese pop group a japanese pop group is trying to get people to change their tune about trash. they're singing in the streets while they clean. and some of their fans are helping them along the way. >> reporter: tokyo's
neighborhood bustles with young people. on this day, volunteers have shown up for a cleaning event. once a week this group gathers to clean the shopping district around the train station. some female volunteers have joined the large number of men at the event. the girls are members of a pop group. ♪ >> reporter: this all female pop group released their debut record in september. their acts encourage people to clean. ♪
>> translator: it's really hard to be successful if you don't have a specific concept. when i asked them what they're good at and what's special about them, they said the young woman said they like to clean and tidy up. so we started to think that cleaning should be their theme. >> reporter: they have put together a plan to spruce up the whole country. all of the group's key members are certified cleaning professionals. between meeting with fans and performing in concerts, the members find time to participate in cleaning events, organized by npos around the country. removing trash with the help of fans helps make the group a growing concern.
with their members go to pick up trash, scores of fans help. >> translator: it's fun to be able to clean up with them. it's like killing two birds with one stone because the town gets clean too. i think it's great. >> reporter: today roughly 40 people took part in the cleanup. they spend more than an hour picking up garbage and separating it. >> translator: we hope that as our fan base grows people will stop throwing trash on the street and more people will take part in cleanups like these. >> translator: i hope that our activities will encourage people to keep clean. >> reporter: clears has made local cleanups a core activity. so far, the members have formed trash collecting groups in cities like tokyo, osaka and nagoya. this has paid off.
they use the cleaners as brand ambassadors. >> translator: if we can form clears groups all over the country, our towns will be cleaner. we want to continue to expand to wherever we receive a request. >> translator: our dream is to go overseas to clean and then give a live show. together with our fans. >> reporter: some day clears aims to have groups in all 47 of japan's prefectures. they've been gaining attention as a model for success, ever diversifying the pop business. people in beijing are hoping to see the clear blue skies they saw last week. but residents are seeing heavy rains once again.
meteorologist robert sp speta explains. >> let's go to images coming out of beijing. we are seeing the very thick fog. a lot of the restrictions have been lifteded since then. authorities are calling for pollution levels to be up near hazardou hazardous. a daily level should be around 20 right now we are seeing about 350. so it's definitely a day where people are advised to stay indoors. try to reduce any outdoor strenuous activities. because that is what we're going to be expecting. we have the cold front pushing away from northeastern china right now. this didn't do too much to set up the atmosphere. high pressure setting in. and when that happens, you get
the air stagnant. the pollutants that are in the atmosphere stay in place and it makes for hazardous breathing conditions. let's talk about the weather elsewhere in eastern asia as well. still seeing rainfall out there. it's expected to really pick up as we go through friday and saturday. northeast monsoon dominating the south. in a tropics across the philippines and into the 30s. bangkok, a high of 35 for you. a warm spot on the map. then i want to talk about southern india. you have been seeing several days of persistent rainfall. you can tee the cloud cover here on the satellite imagery. past 24 hours, one location about 55 millimeters was reported. that's on top of days of heavy rain. so there's a threat of flooding and landslides, and as you look ahead, you could still see more rainfall piling up out here. so definitely that's a big threat for this area of the world. let's go to the other side of
the world. be big topic we've been talking about for several days. more on the snowfall. the good news for buffalo. the winds are shiftg from the northwest. you can see these lines pulling in the general dlex. the big lake-effect snow bands are moving south of the city. you're still seeing areas with some incredibly hef heavy amount of snowfall. there is the threat still of very dangerous driving conditions near zero visibility. also thunder and lightning. some of the storms very con vektive. something to watch out. and on top of that you have a tremendous amount of snow to get rid of. right now at least ten deaths have been reported. people trying to shovel out of their homes. 191 centimeters reported in lancaster. one location and unconfirmed may be over 200 centimeters. that's well over my head, by the way. just kind of put that in perspective. and then all that snow has to go somewhere eventually. take a look at this. this is your snow to water
equivalent. some areas have upwards of 25 to 30 centimeters of water on the ground. and if all this was to melt at once, it's not going to melt all at once, but as we go through the weekend, a lot of snow will shift over to rain. we'll see a warming trend and there is a threat of very serious flooding potentially out in this area by early next week. all right, that's a look at your world weather. i'll leave you with your extended forecast.
it marks the beginning of the holiday season. the two kilometer illumination has strings consistenting of 800,000 light bulbs strung from the trees along the avenue. since 2007 city workers have been using l.e.d. bulbs. it's a mere 2% of what it was eight years ago. >> we come here every year. i think it's just like magic for children. >> the light show will continue through january 7th. an estimated 26 million people are expecteded to turn up. that's all for this edition of "newsline." i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. thanks for joining us.
china's leader hails a n new era of free trade. what does that mean for the etp? >> he should turn japan around and save japan. he's ruining japan. >> aging pets, fewerring kids. meet the companies learning new tricks in old dogs. hello. you're watching asia biz forecast. i'm yuko fukushima. leaders in the region have been working on ways to integrate the economy. the latest idea proved at an apec summit meeting in beijing is the most ambitious