welcome to "newsline." it's friday march 13th. i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. iraqi military forces appear to be getting closer to taking back a key northern city from the islamic state group. government soldiers and militias have seized more than half of tikrit, the hometown of late president saddam hussein. thousands of troops are involved in the operation, and they're now into their second day of a street offensive against the militants. local authorities say government forces have seized 60% of tikrit despite counterattacks and are advancing toward the city
center. prime minister haider al abadi instructed them to ensure the safety of residents. defense minister haled al obeyedi also suggested that troops should avoid harming the hundreds of civilians still trapped in the heart of tikrit. he noted it will take several more days to gain full control of the city. islamic state militants captured tikrit last june. the operation to take back the city involves iraqi soldiers and shia muslim militiamen. the u.s. and other governments are concerned the fighting could rekindle conflicts with the mainly sunni muslim population. officials at the world health organization say the ebola virus may be responsible for more than 10,000 deaths since the outbreak. was first reported in west africa one year ago. health officials say the total number of ebola infections including suspected ones has exceeded 24,000 in the three hardest-hit west african nations. they say the pace of the spread
has dramatically slowed in some areas. in liberia the last-known ebola patient left hospital earlier this month. but guinea and sierra leone each registered 58 new infections in the first week of this month. w.h.o. officials warn adequate steps are not being taken to prevent the spread of infection. they're asking the international community for more help to end the outbreak. environment ministry officials in japan will start a long-awaited and contentious project later in the day four years after the nuclear disaster in fukushima. they're overseeing the transfer of radioactive soil and debris to an intermediate storage facility. the waste has been piling up across the prefecture as decome tommenation work continues. officials spent a considerable amount of time trying to find a suitable site because they had to negotiate with residents.
the storage facility is located in an area between two towns near the damaged fukushima daiichi plant. construction only began last month. so the transfer will start before the facility is completed. in the first year the environment ministry plans to transport 43,000 cubic meters of contaminated materials from across the prefecture. so far the government has only secured enough land to accommodate less than half of that. once completed, the 16-square-kilometer facility will hold up to 22 million cubic meters of waste. but the timeline is unclear because negotiations with land owners are ongoing and have been difficult. environment ministry officials also need to start looking for a location to store the contaminated materials long-term. they promised the citizens of fukushima that if they host the intermediate site for 30 years the final disposal facility would be outside the prefecture. the radiation released by
fukushima daiichi is keeping tens of thousands of residents away from their homes. by law, they're not supposed to stay in the restricted area around the plant, but nhk has learned members of at least 53 households are living there. the government established evacuation zones in ten municipalities. the red, orange and light green areas on this map correspond to high, medium, and low levels of radiation. residents of low and medium zones can return home during daytime hours only. but security patrol groups tell nhk at least 53 households in the restricted zones are occupied. they say people are even living in highly contaminated areas. some residents confess they're simply more comfortable at home. others want to take care of abandoned livestock. government officials have repeatedly warned them of the health risks and urged them to leave, but they say it's difficult to persuade people who want to stay. the current law stipulates those remaining within the restricted
area face no punishment. japanese officials have been considering how to boost the role of the self-defense forces abroad. they want a permanent law allowing personnel to provide logistical support to foreign troops. and they want to make it easier to respond to requests from international organizations such as the u.n. officials will present an outline of the bill on friday to ruling coalition lawmakers. the law would enable the country to dispatch the sdf more quickly to assist foreign troops fighting to secure global peace. in the past government leaders have sought a special law each time they sent sdf units abroad. officials want to support foreign forces acting on u.n. resolutions. such as the multinational gulf war campaign in the early '90s. they also want to help respond to incidents the u.n. acknowledges as a threat to peace. the military operations carried out by the u.s. and britain following the 9/11 terror
attacks is one such example. officials want to be able to consider providing support at the request of regional organizations such as the eu. the law would allow sdf members to provide ammunition but not weapons. they would be allowed to provide transportation and medical support. the defense minister would suspend the activities of personnel if fighting is likely to begin near their operation. but those involved in search and rescue operations might continue their work. a senior member of the junior coalition party komeito has called for a careful and thorough discussion. >> translator: we aim to reach a broad consensus within the coalition on the frame okay of the security legislation by the end of this month. but we should discuss it thoroughly, not trying just to meet the schedule. >> government officials plan to submit a set of security bills in may. china wants to take a
leading role in helping develop economies in the asia pacific region. now a western country wants to come on board with the effort. ai uchida joins us now from our business desk. good morning, ai. tell us what this is all about. >> good morning, catherine. well, as you know chinese leaders are creating a huge development bank for the region. they're calling it the asian infrastructure investment bank. and as the name implies, chinese president xi jinping says he wants it to fund projects and expand infrastructure in the region. well, now britain says it will become a founding member of the bank. it is the first g-7 nation to announce its intention to take part. a statement from the chancellor of the exchequer george osborne says membership will give british companies an unrivaled opportunity to work and invest in the world's fastest growing region. 27 other countries have announced their intention to participate. that includes southeast asian nations, india and new zealand. none of those are g-7 members. japan and the united states are
cautious. they note the region already has a similar institution, the asian development bank. they're also concerned about a lack of transparency in the new bank's operational framework. >> obviously individual countries make their own decisions. we have expressed a desire to see a increased level of transparency and more details on how the asia infrastructure bank would work. >> the british government says the aiib will complement the existing bank. it adds britain can contribute to discussions on governance accountability and operating practices. now let's check on markets. the nikkei touched the key 19,000 level yesterday. then on wall street investors turned bullish once again on weaker retail sales and a pause in the dollar's rally. the dow jones industrial average rose almost 1 1/2% to 17,895. the tech-heavy nasdaq was at
4,893. that's up .9%. to see how markets here are reacting ramin mellegard joins us from the tokyo stock exchange. what are you seeing over there? >> just touching on the u.s. markets we did see investors booking a little bit of profits on that dollar which had advanced quite significantly. but very positive start here for tokyo. let's have a look at the opening levels. we're hitting fresh 15-year highs and we're back above 19,000 there, which we actually broke above briefly on thursday. 19,164. up 0.9%. investors really hoping the corporate profits here may lead a lot of companies to raise wages and bonuses already we've seen signs from the auto and banking sectors that wages may rise and investors are hoping that in turn will lead to higher consumer demand. all pretty positive stuff for japan's economy. now, on the tech side however,
we may need to watch out for shares relating to the tech sector. intel came out and said it may cut its sales forecasts for the first quarter. and there's also interest from the online retail giant rakutan here after it announced interest in buying a stake in u.s. ride company lyft. a lot of interest in the online sectors as well. >> and ramin, with that pause in the dollar's rise where do major pairs stand now? >> we do see that backing off a little bit. let's have a look at the dollar/yen. 121.38-43. that's just come off a little bit the euro/dollar pair also trading at 1.06 after the single currency dipped to a 12-year low. now, bond yields also rose just a touch. investors selling the bonds yields on the u.s. treasury ten-year yield 2.1139%. now, later today we're going to see producer price index data
for the u.s. which may provide another guide for interest rate movements in the u.s. now, domestically energy prices have of course been on the decline and many analysts say japan's shipping and airline sectors may see further buying by investors because they see that oil-induced profits may lead to a better bottom line for a lot of these japanese shipping and airline companies. and across asia i'm also going to keep track of south korea's markets, bank of korea cut rates yesterday and also the thai index. the central bank cut rates. we'll see further reaction there. there was some positive sentiment flowing through the markets yesterday, but we'll see if that continues today. we're above 19,000 for the nikkei. back to you. >> all right, ramin, thanks a lot. we'll talk to you in a few hours. well britain's rail system is getting high-speed upgrade that will dramatically reduce travel time. japanese maker hit avpi delivered the first of nearly
800 rail cars ordered by the british government. the five-car bullet train was unloaded at southampton docks after a two-month voyage. passengers will enjoy the view at just over 200 kilometers per hour. the intercity train is also equipped with diesel engines to run on stretches of british rail that lack electricity. it will undergo test runs starting next month. the british government has ordered a total of 866 rail cars from hitachi. >> we're now very strong in the uk and europe as well. so this makes us a very strong player. so moving forward into the future i think we will continue to grow and become a global player in the transportation market. >> hitachi will assemble the first 76 cars in japan, and british workers will complete the remainder at a domestic factory now under construction. the huge earthquake and tsunami that pummeled japan's northeast region four years ago devastated local businesses.
seafood processors, one of the region's key industries were hit especially hard. about 80% of the small and medium size seafood processors a along the coast say sales are still below predisaster levels. some are fighting their way back on the global market. nhk world's keiko aso has more. >> reporter: ishinomaki in miyagi prefecture was hit by a tsunami of over eight meters. houses and shops along the coast were swept away. fish processing was almost wiped out in some parts. 40% of the seafood processors that stood on the coast are still closed. even the plants that have struggled back on their feet face serious changes. this firm processes oysters, scallops seaweed, and other products. it lost its factory in the
tsunami. but reopened two months later in a makeshift building. yasushito kon. so in charge of sales at the company. he was dismayed to find that some predisaster customers started buying seafood from other areas while his company was on its knees. >> translator: i don't think supermarkets can turn their backs on producers that helped them out while they couldn't get produce from us. >> reporter: the lack of japanese customers has forced kotouno's company to seek new business opportunities overseas. his small company has a limited line-up of products. and it doesn't have the brand power of its bigger rivals. so kotouno has built up a business consortium with five local seafood processors.
working together they can now sell kotouno's oysters and scallops as well as their grilled mackerel and smoked yellowtail. over 100 items in aup. the shift didn't come cheap. to be competitive overseas kotouno's company invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in a new refrigeration system. the new system freezes food instantly. it protects the taste of food by not destroying the cells during the freezing process. so kotouno's products keep their flavor. with its expanded product line-up and new refrigeration system in place the consortium has launched its sales abroad. in february kotouno met with
officials from a taiwanese food import company. he brought with him six processed products including oysters and salmon. he says the frozen oysters stay fresh and delicious even after six months. the technology gives kotouno the competitive edge. >> mm. >> translator: i tasted his oysters today, and they're really good. i'm sure this is going to be a very popular and essential item in our restaurant. >> translator: we have the processing technique to preserve the natural flavor of the food. i hope i can take advantage of japan's great freezing technology to offer delicious foods that can be enskroid in all seasons. >> kotouno and his partners are exporting to five regions and countries including hong kong and singapore.
they're aiming to double the consortium's exports. keiko aso, nhk world, ishinomaki. >> and that's all for now in business. i'll leave you with a check on markets. ♪ china's top judge says cases involving terror attacks and secessionist activities increased by nearly 15% last year. the supreme people's court chief
justice delivered the annual working report for 2014 at the national people's congress. he said courts in china dealt with 558 cases involving terror and secessionist activity last year and 712 people were convicted in those cases. he vowed to deal severely with those crimes. >> translator: we will severely punish violent terror crimes and attempts of secessionism and will resolutely safeguard national security, ethnic unity, and social stability. >> among the cases was a deadly attack near tiananmen square in beijing involving a vehicle. a court in shenzhen autonomous region handed down the death penalty to three suspects who are said to be uighurs. xiao said the court gave the suspects harsh punishments. gunmen carried out a deadly ambush in northern afghanistan.
they killed seven policemen. no one has claimed responsibility. the officers were traveling from northern kunduz to a neighboring province to collect their salaries. up to 30 gunmen attacked them. earlier this week four police officers were killed while manning a security post in parwan province just north of the capital kabul. insurgents in afghanistan killed more than 5,000 police officers last year. taliban militants have been intensifying their attacks since foreign combat troops left at the end of last year. members of a south korean civic group want to share the glory and the burden of hosting the 2018 winter olympics. they want to shift some events from pongchan and other cities in the country and even overseas. they said the organizing committees should make use of existing facilities elsewhere in south korea and they're looking at other sites in the region. possible locations would include a new ski resort in north korea
and nagano japan, which hosted the 1998 winter games. the civic group says sharing the olympics would save south korea nearly $750 million. and it adds this would cut down on the financial losses incurred by facilities after the games. president park geun hye has already come out against this suggestion though. she rejected the idea of co-hosting the olympics in december. the spring grand sumo tournament is now under way in osaka western japan. we'll turn things over to our sumo expert hiro morita for an update. >> there's no question who the man to beat in osaka, hakuho. he captured his 33rd title in japan january, the most ever in sumo history, and the mongolian dynamo is showing no signs of stopping. the grand champ has come out on top in the last five tourneys and looks well on his way to another championship.
simply put, hacko smokes tack roh foouji. hakuho is 5-0. well, hakuho may be the strongest guy out there, but when it comes to popularity nobody even comes close to goweto. the ozeki champion from osaka. he too entered thursday's session with a spotless record. other he's clear about what he wants to accomplish in his holecoming tournament win his first championship. to achieve this he set a goal of winning at least 13 bouts this time around. he wants to catch tamawashi but the mongolian doesn't let that happen. he keeps the separation and then uses his long arms to knock goweto back out and of the ring. he suffers his first defeat. now here's the latest on terunofuji, the young up-and-coming mongolian we featured last week. he sounded very confident when i
interviewed him and that's reflected in his ring performance. terunofuji can do it all. tell you what i mean. first his aggressive forward charge is so powerful he has little trouble moving stocky opponents back. not many people can get someone to back-pedal. also once he gets a hold of his opponent's belt he's very potent. look at his overarm throw in victory against tamawashi, just picked him up and buried him. nothing to it. after five days the newly promoted edd sekiwacki is holding his own with five wins and nos losses. sekiwake is the third highest rank and if terunofuji wins the championship, that's a big if the way hakuho has been competing, but terunofuji would become the first sekiwake in 15 years to accomplish the feat. we'll see what happens 37.
time for a check of the weather. islanders in the western pacific are getting hit hard by a powerful storm. meteorologist robert speta joins us with the latest. >> yes. specifically around the vanuatu area we are seeing cyclone pam, severe tropical cyclone pam that is. and this storm system is going to be bringing the possibility of some very destructive winds up and down the island. especially for a lot these low-lying coastal communities where people are living here. take a look at the satellite imagery. this is a visible satellite. where you can see that very clear and defined eye. but around that see these higher cloud tops the areas that look like puffy popcorn? that is the eye wall. and within that we are seeing winds sustained well over 220 kilometers per hour. gusts could be as high as 250 to 260. that is enough to cause some significant damage but not just the winds alone. we're also seeing the threat of storm surge and also heavy rainfall. so if you are out here i know a lot of people have already been making the preparations the last several days. we have had warning out of the
storm system but those last-minute preparations need to be made in time to start hunkering down once this does come overhead and expect it to last throughout the day here. basically starting friday night into saturday. definitely going to keep a close eye on this one. but this isn't the only tropical system out here. we have cyclone pam now moving over vanuatu but just north of that we have tropical storm bobby. i'm going to talk about that in a second. back toward the west nathan moving over the queensland area and also olwyn which made landfall on friday. let's talk about tropical cyclone nathan lingering just off the coastline. this did not make landfall but did bring high winds and also heavy rainfall. some areas over 200 to 300 millimeters including around the cairns area even extending upwards into cooktown. good news it is going to pull back out to see. bad news we'll see 50 to 100 millimeters. not moving fast enough. expected to reintensify once it gets back out over the coral
sea. on the other side you can see some showers kicking up around western trial. that's because cyclone olwyn made landfall, about the equivalent of a weak typhoon if this was in the northern hemisphere. winds around 140 kilometers per hour sustained. but we did see some gusts during the overnight hours with this. around 180 kilometers per hour there into the area. this is definitely bringing some fairly rough weather for many of the people that live out here many miners in this entire community, and looks like it's going to move to the south in the next few days. tropical storm bobby watching this one too. right now tropical storm warnings and watches in effect for the marshall islands. those are going to taper off. but guam and saipan you have to be watching this as we head into saturday night. and especially on sunday winds will be kicking up possibly gusts of typhoon strength and also looking at the threat of some heavy rainfall with this as the gusts push overhead. and eventually into the extended range not just here but might be
seeing this impact the philippines in the next week. plenty of time to watch it but we're keeping a close eye. back toward the north. showers kicking up across japan. actually a few thunderstorms could be seen there but the good news, it's going to be on and off, nothing too intense but if you are in the mountains you'll be seeing some snow here this coming weekend. to wrap things up we're watching this storm system into the gulf of mexico. this is pulling moisture making things very unstable. your storms some could become strong to severe as this does roll off there toward the northeast. that's a look at your world weather. i'll leave you with your extended outlook. ♪ ♪
japan's leader is shaking up forming co-ops. it's the biggest reform in half a century. and meet the boilermaker who turned disaster into what could be a billion dollar deal. we begin with efforts to revive growth in the two largest countries, china and india. the leaders have been playing out plans for dea