welcome to nhk world "newsline," i'm gene otani in tokyo. here's a look at some of the stories we're following this hour. markets across the asia pacific take a big tumble, sparking concerns more turmoil could weaken the global economy. japanese and south koreans are at odds over what to call the sea between their countries. now, the naming debate is causing ripples in the united states. and trying to solve china's water woes.
officials in the country are coming up with creative solutions to meet the growing demand. investors have said markets across asia on a downward slide and the tokyo stock exchange racked up the worst losses. the benchmark nikkei average posted its biggest one-day loss in more than seven months. it tumbled 4.18% to end at 14,008. its lowest close in almost four months. investors pulled their money out of riskier assets such as stocks after disappointing u.s. manufacturing data fanned fears. investors went after safer assets such as the japanese currency. the stronger yen hurt local equities, especially export-related issues and growth sensitive shares. the nikkei climbed 56% last year. the best performer among major economies in the world. since then, many investors have reduced their positions in part because of worries about slower growth in china, and fund outflows from emerging economies. the index has declined 14% since year end.
the tokyo stock exchange wasn't the only market taking a beating in asia, and ron madison joins us from the business desk with more. >> that's right, gene. many other markets across the region tumbling to multimonth lows today. seoul's kospi slid to a five-month low. hong kong's hang seng hit a low not seen in more than six months. singapore's straits times index fell for a fourth day moving around its lowest levels in a year and two months. sydney's main index ended at a level not seen in six weeks. australia's s&p asx 200 dropping the most in six months. it gave up 1.75% finishing at 5,097. the country's central bank decided on tuesday not to cut its key rate further. this dealt a blow to the already weak market. now the hang seng index suffering the biggest single-day loss that it's seen in more than a year, finishing down nearly 2.9%. 21,397. shares of chinese companies and especially cyclical stocks faced
pretty heavy selling. and the negative sentiment is also hurting european markets at this hour. london is down by nearly 0.4%. 6,442. while frankfurt is declining nearly a percent, 9,096. and we've got paris' cac 40 lower by 0.2% at 4,099. resources stocks are among the day's major losers. investors are worried about global demand for raw materials. turning to currencies now. the dollar is rebounding from a 2.5 month low it hit during tokyo trading hours. right now dollar/yen at 101.24 roughly. analysts say some traders bought back the u.s. currency after it had fallen to the upper 100 yen level. many participants want to see more clues on how the u.s. economy is doing. they're waiting for a key jobs report which is due out on friday. meanwhile, checking in on euro/yen right around 136.80. well, leading japanese companies are reporting pretty
strong earnings. that's despite the volatile financial market. toyota motor executives announced their company's operating profit more than doubled for the april to september -- april to december period, and they're forecasting a record profit for the year through march. officials say the group operating profit totalled more than $18 billion for the nine months through december. executives at the world's biggest selling automaker say a weaker yen helped to boost sales in europe and north america. although sales in the asian region did slow down. now they revised the profit forecast for the whole business year upward to more than $23 billion. that's bigger than the profits toyota had posted before the global financial crisis in 2008. in other earnings news japanese electron electronicsmakers are also doing pretty well. sharp has reported a net profit for the april to december period. that followed losses for the same period over the past two years. sharp officials announced record
profit of $175 million for the nine months. sales surged over 20% year-on-year to more than $21 billion. executives cited brisk sales of small to midsize panels used in smartphones and other devices. demand for solar powered cells also rose. this is due to government measures to encourage purchases of electricity, generated from renewable energy sources. meanwhile, panasonic posted a record net profit, as well, of $2.4 billion. company officials said overseas business improved due to a weaker yen. strong sales of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles also helped out. and hitachi revising its operating profit outlook upward for the year through march. the company's executives are expecting the first record profit in 23 years. all right that is going to do it for biz tonight. here's the markets.
officials in japan and south korea disagree on what to call the body of water between their countries. japanese refer to it as the sea of japan. to south koreans, it's the east sea. now the dispute over the naming is causing waves half a world away in the united states. nhk world has more. >> reporter: a group of lawmakers in the state of virginia is pushing to pass a
bill on school textbooks. it would require them to include the name "east sea" as well as "sea of japan." members of a korean-american group have been lobbying for the change. a lower house committee voted in favor of the legislation on monday. the bill will now go to a vote before the full house. the state senate has already backed another bill on the same issue. a spokesperson for governor terry mcauliffe told nhk that if the bill reaches his desk, he's likely to sign it. the japanese government is urging virginians to reject the legislation. chief cabinet secretary yoshihide suga has repeatedly emphasized japan's stance on the issue. >> translator: the sea of japan is the only internationally
established name. the japanese government has asked the international community to understand and support the name, sea of japan. we'll continue to stress our position, and respond appropriately. >> reporter: u.s. officials are supporting the japanese counterpart. the state department reaffirmed the government's long-standing policy of using the name "sea of japan." >> the u.s. border and geographic standard name for that body of water is the sea of japan. >> reporter: but local changes are afoot. some schools in maryland, which is next to virginia, have already introduced textbooks that include the name "east sea." korean-americans have successfully lobbied on other issues relating to japan. activists ee rhetted a statue near los angeles last year in honor of so-called comfort women.
many women from korean peninsula, japan, china, and other countries, were forced to work in brothels, serving japanese soldiers during world war ii. the statue has stirred debate in other parts of the country. in december, a man in texas launched an online petition on the white house website calling for the statue's removal. more than 120,000 people have signed it. a counterpetition was started to defend the statue. more than 100,000 people have showed support for that initiative. both petitions have met the white house minimum threshold for signatures, so the obama administration will now take up the issue. in the meantime, another monument went up late last month in new york. it commemorates a resolution signed last year by state lawmakers on comfort women.
the debates in the u.s. highlight thorny issues between japanese and south koreans. right now, there's little sign that they'll come to an agreement, any of them, any time soon. nhk world. japanese prime minister shinzo abe wants to make it easier to amend japan's constitution. the country's supreme law hasn't been amended for more than 60 years. article 96 of the constitution says only the diet can propose amendments. getting the diet to approve a proposed change requires at least two-thirds of the members of each of the legislature's two chambers to vote in favor. a simple majority in a public referendum is then necessary for it to become part of the constitution. >> translator: even if 60% to 70% of the public support an amendment, a little more than one-third of lawmakers in either house of the diet can reject it.
i don't think the current system is appropriate. >> abe has said that article 96 should be revised so that simple majorities in the two houses of the diet are enough to approve amendments. he says he believes the constitution represents what japan is and should be. he notes that it hasn't been amended since coming into effect in 1947. abe says this may be due to a general assumption that the constitution should never be changed. japan's shinkansen bullet trains have earned a reputation for speed, safety and punctuality but a suspected business scandal threatens to tarnish their image. tokyo prosecutors are looking into allegations of bid rigging on contracts for a line under construction. the prosecutors launched their investigation with officials from the fair trade commission. they rated jrtt, the japan railway, a construction transport and technology agency, and they searched offices of equipment engineering firms that took part in the bidding.
those firms wanted to supply jrtt with snow-melting equipment for for the hokaruku shinkansen line. they had placed orders worth more than $245 million. some of the bids jrtt officials accepted were within 1% of what they'd been prepared to pay, a possible sign of collusion. a person connected to a suspected firm told nhk that officials at jrtt had given suggestions for bid prices. >> translator: jrtt would have had a problem if no bids had been successful for some parts of the line. i heard officials looked at the first round of bids, then went to the cheapest firm and told managers how to price their bids for the second round. >> prosecutors suspect jrtt officials helped companies win contracts so parts of the line could start operating on time in the spring of 2015.
government officials in china are trying to find ways to meet the country's growing demand for water. by international standards, some regions fall significantly short of having a safe and clean supply. many are now taking steps toward a solution. and it's creating business opportunities along the way. nhk world's kiltenny reports. >> reporter: the water in this northern chinese river has evaporated. rainfall has been sparse. development of cities and factories makes things worse. chinese are also running out of another water source. groundwater levels are falling by almost a meter every year. residents of beijing and other areas get about 40% of their water from underground sources. as ground water levels fall, the surface directly above caves in.
this hospital in northern china had to be rebuilt because it was sinking. you can still see the effects. >> translator: we are suffering from acute water shortages in this area. we want the problem to be resolved soon. >> reporter: to solve the chronic shortage authorities are building canals to bring in water to drought-hit areas. the main source is the yangtze river. the length of each waterway is 1,400 kilometers. the government has spent about $40 billion on the project so far. after 11 years the main part is nearly finished. more than 1,000 bridges span the canal for the convenience of locals. the water is expected to flow sometime next year at the latest. >> translator: i'm honored to be involved in this national waterway project. i'm fully committed to
proceeding with the work, bringing it to a perfect completion. >> reporter: but the waterway can only supply about one-third of the annual demand in the capital, beijing. that's far from a complete solution. that's why china is building water recycling plants. a japanese water processing plant is operating in dailen. the local authorities have contracted the firm to supply industrial water from purified household and industrial sewage. the water is discolored. advanced technology makes it colorous. the japanese have come up with a process that used special water purifying membrane. the straw-shaped porous layer efficiently screens out impurities. the membrane needs to be replaced on a regular basis.
the market for this filter is said to be hundreds of millions of dollars. and it's growing by nearly 20% every year. >> translator: the idea is to supply high volume consumers with water recycled from sewage. that way, we can make the water business viable. >> reporter: chronic water shortages may pose further problems if the economy continues to grow. at the same time, water shortfalls offer a profitable opportunity for innovative companies. ryuta okutani, nhk world. next year is the 70th anniversary of the end of world war ii. authorities in a city in southern japan want to mark the occasion by asking the u.n. to recognize letters written by kamikaze pilots as a cultural heritage. the city was a staging ground for the suicide missions. the peace museum in minami
kyushu city has 40,000 letters, farewell notes and poems from the pilots. the town of chiran was a home base for kamikaze missions against u.s. navy vessels near the end of the war. authorities say 330 of the messages have been translated into english. they submitted them for inclusion in the 2015 unesco memory of the world register. mayor kanpei shimoide said that not many of the pilots' relatives are left to carry on their stories. >> translator: i would like the whole world to learn about the importance of peace, and the value of life from the words of these pilots facing death. >> the u.n. established the memory of the world heritage to record historic documents. the items include the diary of anne frank.
two american women who involved an ancient pilgrimage route in western japan have documented their adventures. the journey known as ohendo affected them so deeply they've hand-made an illustrated book to capture the americans. >> reporter: the 40-page book called "temple by temple" uses traditional japanese paper to depict the distinct difficult your of ohenro. it is a religious journey which more than 100,000 pilgrims try every year. many wear traditional white robe. there are 88 temples to visit on the western island. pilgrims can take any route they wish, but each journey cannot be less than 1,000 kilometers. pilgrims' motives vary. some worship. others look in to themselves. the drawings in the book are
evocative. the words, like poetry. >> pushing up the steep roads to temple 20, she seemed hopeless. >> reporter: the authors are chelsea reedy and alana snyder. they had been teaching english to children in shikoku in summer of 2012 and before going back to the u.s. they took on the ohenro challenge. at first, all they wanted was a good memory. but the impact of their 15-day bicycle trip was strong. while visiting the sacred locations along the way, they decided to write a book. >> ohenro is like life, make you think about life. >> reporter: last fall, they returned from the u.s. to gather material. snyder photographed the enchanting scenery to help with her illustrations.
reidy sought inspiration at each location in an effort to find the best words to accompany the drawings. they completed the book last month. in one section, the two shared their experience of spending a rainy night outdoors. the physical challenges they endured sometimes triggered a spiritual dialogue. >> what are we searching for? >> reporter: and the local people they met along the way were kind to them. once, when they could travel no further, a man gave them a lift in his car. >> people often help ohenro, it becomes their journey, too. >> reporter: the ohenro experience deepened their compassion for others. >> i want to always remember how much people help me. i want to -- i don't want to foreget. so that any time i can help
somebody, i will. i will help them. >> japanese people, very good community, so i can see and take with me to -- back to america, or to next place. >> reporter: reidy and snyder aim to find a publisher for the book, and to let as many people as possible know about their ohenro experience. a journey that helped them to re-examine life itself. it's snowing in tokyo but even colder temperatures in europe. our meteorologist robert speta takes it from here. robert? >> oh, yeah, we have been looking at that severe winter storms out across much of eastern europe. and into the balkans. you've been seeing storm after storm out here in slovenia. you had some fairly heavy snowfall. over the past several days. now there's some good news that we're going to be seeing over the next, well rest of the week,
really, high pressure is going to start to retreat off towards the east. that's been bringing this very cold air. you're starting to see a warm-up in belgrade up to 13. well above average. bucharest up to 1. kiev going from minus 2 up to 2 degrees there on your friday. so our attention really is shifting from eastern europe to western europe. now we have a new storm system that's coming in. this is bringing some snowfall across the higher elevations into the alpine regions. down towards the south, the iberian peninsula. you're going to be continuing to see some heavy rainfall here on wednesday as this next system starts to come onshore. not to mention gusty winds with this one. that's about 100 kilometers per hour. some higher elevations, you can see about 30 centimeters of snowfall. so a very messy winter storm, indeed, coming on here for you. in these areas where the ground's already saturated you really don't want any more rainfall. especially there in to southern portions of the uk. take a look at your temperatures, though. london just a high of 8. paris, 9. rain showers for you. same in madrid, and even lisbon.
much of italy you've been dealing with flooding rains as of late. this is the big topic definitely into much of japan today. it is the snowfall, not on sea of japan coastline but in to the conto plain. this is just north of tokyo. what you see here is about 9 centimeters of snowfall. really, this whole system, this whole band of snow started in northern canto, worked its way south across to the tokyo metro now down towards kanagawa and chiba. the good news it's not lasting very long. so if you're expecting the snow to linger going in to your wednesday, especially for the morning commute, it's not going to be there. it's going to move off towards the northeast. the sea of japan coastline, though, you're not sharing on the same space. this one's going to move east. the sea effect snow continuing to linger up to 60 centimeters. expected there for you going through the next 24 hours. let's stay on this topic of severe winter weather, though.
another storm system developing in the central plains. this is following right in behind that one. you see it moving off towards the east just off the right side of your screen there. well, this brought some heavy snowfall across much of the mid-atlantic states, including new york city. that's where this video is coming out of where you saw some fairly significant snowfall accumulation. numerous schools, governmental buildings, were closed here on your monday. central park saw about 15 centimeters of snow. remember this is coming about a day after the super bowl was held right there in new jersey. so, would have been very interesting if that occurred about 24 hours earlier. but that storm is moving east. another one is coming in from the west. this is going to start here in the lower rockies. but widespread, 15 to 25 centimeters of snowfall. it is expected with this one. even freezing rain there in the light green. you could really see about 3 millimeters of that. and then, from the south, that warm air inflow. any time you get that warm air inflow with the moisture combined with the cold air from
tuesday is the beginning of spring on the old japanese calendar. and fishermen in of nikato mark the day by holding a special festival. the community first held the event some 300 years ago. fishermen prepared about 40 cod each weighing more than 10 kilograms to display at the festival. fishermen and children paraded from the port to a shrine two kilometers away with the cod hoisted on bamboo poles. they hung the cod in the shrine grounds and prayed for a good catch this year. >> translator: i'm happy that we could prepare cod to offer at the shrine. >> local fishermen have been able to go fishing only half the usual number of days so far this season because of rough seas. that's "newsline" for this hour. i'm gene otani in tokyo. from all of us here at nhk world, thanks for joining us. have a great day wherever you are.
>> hello. welcome back to the "france 24 newsroom. the opposition in ukraine lays its latest amounts on the table today and parliament. it wants the unconditional release of jailed protesters and cuts and the president's powers. a landmark trial here in france, a former rwandan army captain is in court, linked to the massacre of 800,000 people in rwanda 20 years ago. and it is a very happy birthday for the company that turned friend into a verb. facebook is now 10 years old.