they both claim the territory. japanese prime minister yoshihiko noda wants to resolve the dispute in court. he's holding a news conference later in the day to explain his country's position. no da wrote a letter to south korean president lee myung bak following lee's visit to the islets earlier this month. japan calls them takeshima. south korea controls the islets and calls them dokdo. no da's letter asks for both sides to settle the dispute peacefully and in accordance with international law. his government wants to bring the issue before the international court of justice. but the south korean government refused to accept the letter. officials there sent it back to japan's foreign ministry by registered mail. no da is planning to talk about the territorial issue later on friday. he's also expected to speak about a group of islands in the east china sea. japan controls the territory and calls it senkaku.
china and taiwan claim the islands as their own. the territorial dispute is just one issue creating friction between japan and south korea. lee myung bak's comments about the japanese emperor are causing a stir. the president said emperor akihito should offer a heartfelt apology to koreans who died fighting for independence from japan before he visits south korea. senior south korean official says the japanese government is overreacting. the official argues lee made the comment without malicious intent and that the president understands how people in japan feel about their emperor. but the official described their reaction to the comment as "unimaginably excessive." the official defended lee's visit to the disputed islets saying the president did nothing wrong and that japan should respond calmly. japanese authorities say they have not mentioned the emperor's visit to south korea.
they plan to clarify the south korean's government stance in diplomatic channels. opposition forces in syria are digging in and preparing to defend turf they've won in the northern city of aleppo. they say government troops are getting ready to carry out a major assault against them. before that, syrian soldiers appear to be broadening their offensive in a suburb of the capital,amass. fighting between government troops and rebel forces accelerated last sunday, after u.n. cease-fire monitors wrapped up their mission. an opposition source in damascus says syrian soldiers fired tank cannons in a residential area on the outskirts of the city. at the same time, war planes staged air attacks. the source says more than 50 people died, including citizens and members of the free syrian army. opposition forces say they believe government troops are trying to secure the capital before they launch their assault on aleppo.
the syrian military continued its air strikes against the northern city thursday. targets included a christian district. 17 people reportedly died there. rebel forces are trying to reinforce their positions in aleppo. they're calling their fighters back from turkey, where they've taken refuge. now human rights group amnesty international has released a report on syria. it expresses great concern over the sharp increase in the number of civilian victims of indiscriminate attacks by government forces. the report mentions 30 cases of indiscriminate attacks on civilians who were not related at all to the armed conflict. it says members of a family who fled from their home after a government attack were killed in another attack in their new shelter, a relative's house. the report also says government attacks near bakeries killed or injured residents, including children, lining up for bread. it also points out that rebel forces have killed or abused
captured government soldiers. greece's prime minister is getting ready to plead his case to the leaders of the eurozone's two biggest economies. an on it yo samaras is trying to buy his country some time. yongghi kang is at the business desk with more. what does samaras want? >> very important events coming up for europe's debt crisis and samaras wants more breathing space to implement budget cuts to get the next installment of the bailout. angela merkel and hollande are expected to urge him to stick to tough reform targets to receive rescue funds. leaders of germany and france met to build a consensus on what they'll say to the demand from greece for more time to implement fiscal reforms. at a news conference, the two leaders suggested that the decision on whether to grant
greece an extension will depend on next month's report from the european union, the european central bank, and the international monetary fund. >> translator: it is important for me that we all stay to our commitments and above all wait for the report to confirm the result but we will and i will encourage greece to continue on its path to reform. which has demanded of a lot of greek people. >> translator: we want, i want greece to stay in the eurozone. this is what we have said since the beginning of the crisis. it is up to the greeks to make the necessary effort so we can achieve this goal. >> samaras will meet merkel on friday to demand leeway but major progress is unlikely. and it is time to check on the markets now. overnight u.s. stock prices fell as concerns about eurozone debt
continued to weigh on sentiment. the dow jones industrial average was down about 0.9% at 13, 05, the fourth straight day of declines. to see how stocks are trading this friday morning here in japan, we do go to ramin mellegard, who is standing by at the tokyo stock exchange. good morning, ramin. how are stocks kicking off this morning? >> very good morning to you, yongghi. exactly, following declines in germany and france, the u.s. markets also fell, investors really worried about greek debt payments and of course, the meeting, the upcoming meeting that you were just talking about there. also, a little bit of a focus on the high tech sector following weak quarterly earnings from hewlett-packard, and that came in below analysts forecasts. let's have a look at how we're kicking off this friday morning, and really following on from germany, france, and the u.s., and the nikkei and the topix there, lower, 9,066, down 1.2%
for the nikkei. the nikkei, however, did end in the positive yesterday, but on pretty low volume. we'll see how volume is today. investors really waiting to see the outcome of that key meeting between german chancellor merkel and the greek prime minister samaras later today. lot of focus on the euro and greece, but there are also concerns about what the federal reserve may do with boosting growth for the u.s. and that also meant that the dow fell on thursday. now, a lot of focus on central bank moves, of course, with chinese, japanese, and u.s. central banks, all poised really to make any extra moves there to boost growth but in japan it's not only export growth, which is a concern, but also domestic growth, which we saw in the trade balance figures there, so that's another worry for investors. the yen, of course, coming up there on the screens, looking at some of the pairs there, the dollar/yen at the top of the
screen, 78.57-59, and euro/yen 98.70-75. so the yen, of course, fluctuating quite a bit. the yen did gain against the dollar following the fomc minutes yesterday. yongghi? >> yes, ramin, a lot of focus on the development in europe also on central banks but anything else on the economic front today which may move markets? >> yeah, economic data this week has been pretty light, but there will be durable goods orders later today in the u.s. and that covers pretty much everything from fridges and rice cookers to cars, so that's going to be a big piece of data for investors to watch out for, and of course economic data out of the u.s. has been relatively upbeat, but again, nothing to get too excited about, hence the focus on what the federal reserve may do or say, so that's another big focus for investors in japan as well. we'll watch out for any other signals which may affect stocks.
yongghi, back to you. >> that was ramin mellegard at the tokyo stock exchange. and that's all for now in business news. i am going to leave you with the latest market figures. people in japan have been wrestling with the consequences of using nuclear power ever since last year's accident at fukushima daiichi. they've focused on the safety of the country's 50 reactors. they've also debated the future use of atomic energy. now there are concerns about the by-product of the nuclear process, highly radioactive waste. nhk has learned top scientist its are going to urge the
government to rethink its final disposal plan for this waste. we've obtained a draft proposal by the science council. the government says there are approximately 235,000 containers filled with highly radioactive waste. each one is about a meter long and almost half a meter wide and they weigh half a ton. utilities store them in stainless steel containers. the nuclear waste inside is vitrified liquid so it's esebially solid. because of its dangerous nature it needs to be stored away from people and the environment. the government decided on its final disposal plan 12 years ago. crews would bury the waste deeper than 300 meters underground for tens of thousands of years. but members of the council are questioning that idea. their draft proposal says science has its limits and japan's frequent earthquakes and active volcanos make it difficult to identify areas
underground that would stay stable for such a long period of time. they say the government should reexamine its disposal plan even if it means restarting discussions from scratch. nhk world kazuho spoke earlier with gene otani. >> if we can't bury the nuclear waste underground, what are the scientists say the government should do with it? >> the members of the science council insist that utilities keep the waste at or close to ground levels for decades or if needed centuries. during this period they say the government and industry should develop necessary technologies and gather public opinion on the final plan. they also say japan should reduce its dependence on nuclear power and set a limit on the amount of highly radioactive waste it will create. right now 94% of the storage containers are kept onsite at nuclear facilities across the country.
the rest can be found at the facility in the northeast. the government requires them to be left at ground level for 30 to 50 years so they release their heat, but ultimately it needs to find a final and safe storage place. >> so what's going to happen to the science council's proposal? >> the science council is expected to submit its proposal to the atomic energy commission of japan. one expert told us this report will help generate a discussion about how to dispose of this waste and also about the future of nuclear energy. >> translator: we should move step by step and decide little by little. for that we need to review our nuclear energy policy first. i think this proposal has given
us material from which the whole country can discuss that path. >> so this is yet another example of how the march 2011 earthquake has changed japan's approach to nuclear power industry. how are other countries dealing with similar kind of situation? >> only finland and sweden have a concrete plan. they both decided to bury their waste underground and they have already designated locations, but a not in my backyard debate is playing out elsewhere. people in the u.s. had planned to build a final storage facility underneath the desert in the state of nevada, but president obama put the plan on hold when he took office. political change in germany shelved the underground storage plan there as well. in canada, canada decided to keep this waste at ground level for 60 years and prepare for a final storage plan within that time, so other countries are in the same position as japan. what's different is they haven't
been dealing with the aftermath of a nuclear accident. this issue is yet another conundrum facing the government and the public. >> nhk world's kahu izumitani. people in tokyo are customed to overcrowding. in one of the world's biggest cities it's just a part of life. it's also part of the afterlife. the traditional japanese burial is in a crowded graveyard under a heavy stone. but as space is getting squeezed and society changes ideas about burial are evolving. one of the newest approaches is coming from the tokyo government. nhk world's chia yamagishi has more. >> reporter: 20 kilometers out of central tokyo this 800-square meter patch of lawn could be a neatly landscaped plot in a well-to-do suburb, but a closer look reveals this hole. it is 1.5 meters in diameter and two meters deep.
we are at the public burial ground called the forest cemetery. the tokyo metropolitan government plans to intern the remains of about 400 people in this hole. about 10,000 will find their final rest in 27 holes. bones and ashes will be placed in biodegradable containers so they return to the soil over the years. the situation for conventional burials has changed along with japanese society. the ancestral grave visit is a traditional ritual. but it has become less common as society ages. the family unit is smaller these days and the birth rate is falling. there is also the issue of cost. head stones are expensive, and it costs a lot to buy and maintain grave space.
as a result, more graves now lie abandoned because there is no one to take care of them. in short, many people find traditional burials too complicated. many wish simply to return to nature after they die. the tokyo metropolitan government authorized burial rights in the foreign cemetery in july. 500 places were offered. over just two weeks more than 8,000 people applied. on thursday officials of the metropolitan government held a draw for the winners. >> translator: i don't want my children to still have to take care of me after my death. >> translator: i hear that people buried here will return to the soil after 30 years. that's all right with me. >> translator: we don't have any
children, so we'll have no worries about the future if we can only arrange our graves. >> reporter: many tokyo residents are showing a lot of interest in this new type of cemetery. more people than expected have come here to find out the results of the lottery. this room is packed. government officials made the first announcement of the foreign cemetery in april. they had so many inquiries they ran out of pamphlets. they're bracing for more interest in future. one factor behind the forest burial's popularity is the low cost. it is only a one-time fee of around $1,500. that's about a tenth the price of a traditional plot. >> translator: people's burial
needs are different depending on whether they have children or if they want to return to nature after they die and so on. we hope we'll be able to fulfill all sorts of demands. >> reporter: the market for final resting places is opening up as people demand more choices over their departures. chie yamagichi, nhk world. people who like to pamper their pets are headed to an expo outside tokyo this weekend. if you think they'll just be looking for leashes or collars, think again. smartphone-controlled feeders and cutting-edge diapers are the hot items these days in japan's pet industry which is worth about $20 billion a year.
nhk world's rina nakano explains. >> reporter: this is a pet lover's paradise. from high-end food to stylish leashes to the latest technology for dogs, cats, fish and more. it's all here at interpets 2012. >> translator: i don't any think other industry has as much market potential as ours. >> reporter: more than 250 companies from 13 different countries are here selling products they say pet owners can't live without. much of the focus is on domesticated animals that live in the city. spokespersons for the pet food manufacturers association of japan say more than 40% of pets in the country are kept indoors. that's pushed interior design companies such as this one to expand their business to provide pet-related products. it makes removable and washable carpet squares for dogs that just can't hold it.
>> translator: for regular large carpet, owners might have to pay up to $120 for cleaning. but with this, you can just brush it like this. it's much more hygienic. >> reporter: they also make this, a solution for people with pets that like to paw at the walls. this material is scratch resistant. really smooth. technology is now as much a part of owning a pet as leashes and food bowls. this product combines smartphones with robotic monitors. the camera and snack feeders are connected to the internet. owners can monitor and remotely feed their pets in realtime from their smartphones. manufacturers say this is especially useful for people who live alone or are away for a day. recently more businesses are becoming pet friendly. so for those who want to travel with their pets, it just got a
little easier. car companies are focusing on making road trips comfortable, both for owners and pets. these cushioned carry cases can be secured by a seat belt. the firm also makes waterproof seat covers for certain models. this business designed a product specifically for male dogs who often like to mark their territory. places such as hotels and resorts want owners to prevent their pets from doing that. this easy to put on wrap is the answer to that problem. the company also sells the latest doggy diapers for puppies who aren't potty trained. it says these have a snug fit and are leak-proof. experts say all of these unique products enhance the connection between people and their furry friends.
>> translator: having a pet really improves our quality of life. we hope more people will come to realize that. >> reporter: innovation for a niche market and adapting to the changes in human behavior are what make the pet industry recession-proof. rina nakano, nhk world, chiba, japan. we've been following a powerful storm making its way to taiwan. rachel ferguson gives us the latest in her world weather forecast. >> the two twin systems that we are following are the typhoons almost of the same strength. it's also slowing down. that said, it's very hard to say what's going to happen to a slow moving storm in the warm waters of the south china sea as it enters, it could move very erratically so we need to keep a close eye on what it's going to
do into the weekend. thousands of people have been evacuated from southern taiwan yesterday in preparation for the storm. we're now experiencing hurricane force winds, winds actually of 126 kilometers an hour have been reported in southern taiwan, very heavy rain, storm surge as well as high waves. we have a second storm to deal with, this one is bolevan. typhoon bolevan is also a strong typhoon, heading up to the northwest at the moment, and it can also intensifying. now that is an issue. it's a storm twice the advertise of tenbin and today it's expected to affect daitojima and saturday okinawa and the imami region and sunday the peak of the storm for that region. beyond that it could move up into the yellow sea and bring some heavy rain to southeastern china first or eastern china first and then up towards the korean peninsula.
that's of particular concern, because the korean peninsula has received so much rain in the last several weeks. widespread flooding has affected both north korea and south korea and you can see right now we have a front just stalled out across south korea, it's being enhanced by a new tropical depression, which has formed in the yellow sea, and that front is going to be heading up towards the north anyway so more heavy rain to be coming, talking about 200 miters or so in the last 24 hours and if the storm, typhoon bolaven heads up to the yellow sea that could spell disaster. as it is before we get to that stage we're looking at a very serious situation with these two typhoons in the western pacific. we have another tropical storm to talk about, let's go to the eastern caribbean sea and talk about tropical storm isaac, which is now just up towards the south of puerto rico. it looks like it's going to head toward hispaniola making landfall in the dominican republic or very close to the border with haiti, and then
heading out towards the gulf of mexico, where it's expected to become a hurricane and move towards the east of the florida peninsula. at the moment, it's moving at 26 kilometers an hour, with sustained winds at 65 kilometers an hour, with gusts up at 83. we're going to be seeing storm force winds of course, dangerous rip currents are possible as well as storm surge and then the rain. 300 mill meters, maybe up to 500 millimeters locally for parts of hispaniola. heavy rains expected around the four corners and coming in toward the central plains. having said that, missouri stays very dry and also wyoming, montana and idaho, fire warnings are posted here, too. into europe we go. starting to get wet and windy for the british isles, that will be your weekend. we have a big system come in. heavy rain across the alpine region and gusty winds particularly here as well as the system moves through central europe. to the south it stays very, very