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. japanese officials have released figures showing the economy defied expectations by shrinking in the last quarter. japanese prime minister shinzo abe has returned from a diplomatic tour. analysts say he's likely to postpone raising the consumption tax and may dissolve the lower house. and okinawa's newly elected
governor bows to prevent the relocation of a u.s. military base within the prefecture. we look into why voters lined up behind the base opponent. japan's latest gdp figures could spell trouble for prime minister shinzo abe's program to revive the economy. the figures released by cabinet office officials this morning shows the economy is shrinking. the july to september decline is japan's second straight quarterly fall. the preliminary data shows japan's gdp fell 0.4% in the three months to september, from the previous quarter. that translates into an annual downturn of 1.6% and follows a 7.3% plunge on an annualized basis in april to june. the figures were a shock for investors and politicians. and ron madison joins us now from our business desk. ron, break down the number for us. >> gene, a lot was really riding on this month's data. the prime minister had stated
that he would be using these gdp numbers to either postpone or go ahead and press ahead with another consumption tax hike. this time, raising it from 8% to 10%. analysts were expecting the economy to recover slightly, after plunging in the previous quarter. so they were a bit surprised to see the economy shrink again. and in particular they thought they would see better numbers in housing and in corporate spending. personal spending grew just 0.4%. the impact of the april consumption tax hike faded. but higher prices and cooler weather in the summer made people a bit reluctant to spend money. the hike in the sales tax also dampened demand for big ticket items. housing investment plunged 6.7%. corporate capital investment shrank 0.2%. well let's see how markets reacted to the data. tokyo's major benchmark suffered its biggest one-day loss since february. the nikkei plunged below that 17,000 mark for the first time in five sessions. there you see it's down nearly 3%. 16,973.
the disappointing data gave investors a chance to take profits from recent gains. a broad range of shares, particularly the exporters, saw heavy selling on the back of a stronger yen. and speaking of currencies the dollar is still under pressure against the yen. right now we're seeing it at roughly 116.24. analysts say investors have been shifting funds into the japanese currency, which they do regard as a safety asset. the falling nikkei seems to have sapped their appetite for risk. the yen is also holding pretty firm against the euro. right now we're seeing it at 145.19. the leaders of australia and china have concluded negotiations on a landmark free trade deal. the talks have been ongoing since 2005. china is australia's top trading partner. australian prime minister tony abbott and chinese president xi jinping reached the agreement in the australian capital canberra. representatives of the two nations signed a memorandum of understanding. under the deal both sides have
agreed to abolish tariffs on a wide range of items including agricultural products, wine, coal and medicines. the agreement would abolish import duties on 95% of australia's exports to china. now australia cited economic partnership agreement in july with japan and earlier this month china agreed to sign a free trade deal with south korea. well stock exchanges in hong kong and shanghai have launched an exchangeling system that allows investors at one exchange to trade stocks listed on the other. cross exchange trading kicks off on monday after ceremonies at the two facilities. the chinese government has previously restricted investments from outside of the mainland in an effort to control the flow of speculative money. until now on the shanghai exchange stock trading was limited to investors with approvals from chinese authorities. exceptions included some stocks that were traded in u.s. dollars. under the exchange link program investors with minimum account
balances of $82,000 can trade shares listed on the hong kong bourse. and investors outside china can now access most of the shares listed in shanghai. let's see how those bourses traded on the first day of the exchangeli exchangelink. investors bought as much as they were allowed under shanghai's daily investment quota. right after the market opened we saw the composite index shoot up by 1.2%. it wasn't enough to cover selling by mainland investors and the index ended up in the negative over 0.1% at the close. the hong kong exchange saw a limited buy orders from mainland. analysts say retail investors appeared less enthusiastic for hong kong listed shares, and that's because of their lack of knowledge apparently about companies outside the mainland. well the end of the day's trading saw the hang seng index snap the five-day winning streak dropping 1.2%. around the asia pacific region most benchmarks did finish lower tracking the nikkei's sharp decline.
looks like the downbeat tone is carrying over to europe, as well. major benchmarks are all lower there. frankfurt and paris down 3 trss. . london down as well just about 0.3%. japanese tech stockmaker toray industries has agreed to provide fiber to boeing. the contract is worth over $1 trillion yen, roughly $8.6 billion. toray's president says his company will provide the carbon fiber for boeing's next generation 777-x passenger jet. in addition to the 787 dreamliner. he said the firm will extend its current supply yield which was to end in 2016 to last more than ten years starting this year. toray is spending more than $800 million to spend a new carbon fiber plant in the u.s. to meet demand from aircraftmakers. the two companies also signed an agreement to jointly develop carbon fiber for next generation
>> from the decisions that could change the course of an economy. >> to the companies at the forefront of change. >> up to the minute market reports. and analysis by specialists from around the world. >> get all the latest business news and insight every day here on "newsline." japan's prime minister is back in tokyo from a diplomatic tour abroad to face some challenges at home. shinzo abe's preparing to tackle the biggest one head-on. political analysts say he's almost certain to postpone plans to raise the sales tax, and they say he play announce as early as tuesday that he'll dissolve the lower house. government officials want to put the tax up from 8% to 10%. they had plans to do that next october but abe has suggested he'll put it off to april of 2017. he said the tax is meant to raise revenue, so it's pointless to increase it if that hurts the
economy. the prime minister said decisions bearing on the day-to-day lives of ordinary people should not be decided lightly. he said it's better to dissolve the lower house than call an election. people in okinawa have voted for change. they've ousted the incumbent governor who was in favor of a government plan to relocate the futenma air station within the prefecture. they've chosen a candidate who has pledged to move the american marine base out of okinawa. and the decision could now affect the future of the plan. nhk world reports. >> reporter: takashi owe nicaragua ga was handed a landslide victory. he's the mayor of naha for 14 years. >> translator: we are turning a page in okinawa's history. >> reporter: onaga was a member of abe's liberal democratic party. he had supported the government's policy of maintaining u.s. bases in okinawa.
until this election. >> translator: i've been calling for the relocation of the futenma base to another prefecture or another country. i've made it my goal not to allow the construction of a new base. >> reporter: the big issue for voters was how the land now occupied by this u.s. marine base should be returned to okinawa. futenma sits right in the middle of a densely populated city. it's been described as one of the most dangerous military bases in the world. okinawaen government officials want the base moved for reasons of safety. accidents involving aircraft and crimes committed by servicemen have added fuel to their demands. in 1995, the people of okinawa demonstrated their rage after a 12-year-old schoolgirl was raped by three u.s. servicemen.
following the incident, officials of the japanese and u.s. government were forced to agree to return the land where the base was situated to japanese control. but, the agreement fell far short of what most local people wanted. it called for futenma to be relocated within okinawa, and for creating a landfill along the northeastern shore. the issue has remained controversial for nearly two decades. people in okinawa feel their prefecture bears an inordinately large share of the burden of hosting u.s. military bases. 74% of all american military facilities in japan are located. and the prefecture accounts for less than 1% of japan's total land area. last year, prime minister shinzo abe announced measures to
revitalize the prefecture's economy. he promised to allocate the equivalent of 2.9 billion dollars to okinawa each year for the next eight years. the incumbent governor approved the landfill plan shortly thereafter. but onaga says he might withdraw permission for the landfill. central government officials say they are going ahead with the work. >> translator: we think relocating the base to the sea coast is the only way to reduce the burden on okinawa. we will proceed based on governor nakaima's decision, and make every effort to return the land beneath the futenma air station to the people. >> reporter: but, experts say it won't be easy. sato is a professor at okinawa international university who specializes in japan/u.s. relations.
sato says onaga has gained support from not just liberals, but also certain portion of conservative voters. >> people can express their own true feeling through onaga. we will carry the -- i don't think it's the burden of the u.s. here, but not anymore. this is already enough. >> reporter: u.s. officials once referred to okinawa as the keystone of the pacific. they said their military strategy has been built around the bases here. japanese leaders have described the bases as vital for the stability of the region. onaga will take office early next month. the people of okinawa, as well as officials with the japanese and u.s. governments, will be paying close attention to the new governor's actions.
jun yotsumoto, nhk world, okinawa. japanese coast guard officials say the number of chinese fishing boats suspected of poaching coral in the waters south of tokyo has dropped to nearly 60. they say at the peak there were about 200 boats in the area. and they say they've seen fewer vessels return after leaving the region. they say 58 chinese boats were spotted on sunday near the ogasawara islands. they say they sent out warnings to stay away from the japanese islands. chinese vessels have been spotted near ogasawara and izzo islands since september. coast guard officials say they've arrested six crew members since last month, and they say they'll continue to patrol the area. an ornament made with red coral are sold for high prices in china. prime minister fumio kishida said japanese leaders will work with their chinese counterparts to crack down on the alleged poaching.
investigators are trying to get to the bottom of a mystery that's testing relations between countries. they've begun sifting through the remains of the malaysian plane that crashed in eastern ukraine. 298 passengers and crew died in july when malaysia airlines flight mh-17 went down over remote farmland. nine bodies are still missing. the victims were on their way from the netherlands to malaysia. the investigators have previously struggled to get access to the crash site. they've been trying to avoid fighting between ukrainian soldiers and pro-russian separatists. the sides signed a cease-fire in september but they continue to engage in sporadic fighting. investigators will spend a few days combing through a wide area of land for debris. they'll take important evidence back to the netherlands for examination. authorities in the u.s. and europe accuse pro-russian separatists of shooting down the plane. government officials in russia have denied any involvement.
meanwhile the ap news agency has released video footage taken immediately after the crash. a ukrainian who lives near the site took the two minute video with a mobile phone. one resident shouts out that a number of planes may have crashed because there's so much debris. ap suggests the footage may be the first taken after the airplane went down. japanese artisan has a unique fake on the classic picture book. she crafts each one by hand from fabrics, adding a personal touch that seems to connect with readers. and now her creations are reaching children around the world. nhk world has the story. >> reporter: this is a classroom at a school for disabled children and their parents in tokyo. students with disabilities get the chance to experience something new here. junko watanabe created the special books they are
exploring. she has been making them for 35 years as a way to give disabled children opportunities to learn. >> reporter: watanabe uses felt, kimono material, and other fabrics. details include embroidery, buttons, and strings. children can practice tying and untying, buttoning and unbuttoning, while touching the books. these exercises can foster independence. >> translator: sometimes a mother calls me to let me know a cloth book inspired her child's first words. that makes me so happy it brings tears to my eyes. >> reporter: watanabe has assembled a group of volunteers who help make the books and
donate them to libraries around japan. so far the group has given more than 20,000 books to around 500 libraries. this library in tokyo suburb has 300 of them. aiko and her 8-year-old son daisuke live nearby. daisuke was diagnosed with down's syndrome at birth. when he was a year and a half old he started coming to the library with his mother to borrow cloth books. a book introducing musical notes really caught his eye. >> translator: we also borrow regular books but he's really drawn to the cloth ones. if i bring a big bag of them home he'll say, i want one of those. >> reporter: now, daisuke can play the piano. it's a simple song, but it requires both hands. ♪
>> translator: the cloth books have broadened his world. he learned how to read from them. and he got interested in knowing more about the things around him. >> reporter: it's tough for daisuke to interpret the notes, move his fingers, and listen to the music all at the same time. but he keeps trying. now, watanabe and her team are sending the cloth books to children around the world, especially those living in poverty or without access to education. some books were sent to an orphanage in myanmar that takes care of 200 kids. many had lost their parents in ethnic conflicts, or were abandoned due to poverty.
other books were sent to students in africa. they reflected cultural differences like the way people there count with fingers. >> translator: people learn their own country's language and think and act in that language. just one cloth picture book is something people can explore and learn from. that's why i want to pass them on to future generations around the world. >> reporter: watanabe believes all children, regardless of their circumstances, can learn something from her picture books. and she hopes this seed of an idea takes root around the world. mikiko suzuki, nhk world, tokyo. japanese and french institutions are working together to attract more students to japan. tokyo's meiji university, and a french national agency hosted an education fair in paris.
21 universities from japan took part in the event and pantheon sorbonne university. representatives of 16 universities spoke directly with students. they explained their courses and scholarship programs for foreign students. >> i want to know which other university i could take in international relationship. >> reporter: the event took place amid growing interest among young french people in anime and other cultural aspects of japan. >> translator: we want to attract students that are interested in science, as well as japanese culture. >> he added not many japanese students are interested in studying overseas these days, but he hopes visiting foreign students will spark their interest. the education ministry of japan says 790 students from france came in 2013.
that's more than double the number ten years ago. people in north america are bundling up in heavy coats. they're dealing with extremely cold weather and snow. meteorologist sayaka mori joins us with the details. >> yes, gene. it's like a winter wonderland for many parts of the u.s. although we are one month ahead of the official start to winter. now, this was the scene coming out of new york on saturday. lots of snow there, and also this was the same in missouri on your sunday. and then up in the mountains in oklahoma, you can see a nice combination of snow and also a cactus. now, because we have a couple of winter storms affecting the eastern areas of the u.s. and canada, snow is affecting the eastern portions of the continent from minnesota towards the eastern end of canada up to 10 centimeters of snow is likely, and accompanied by very gusty conditions that could lower visibility. so driving is going to be quite hazardous. more of a concern is actually freezing rainfall. this is actually looks like
rainfall, but because temperature itself is below average, or below freezing, so once it contacts the ground, it will create icy roads, making for very hazardous driving conditions. into the south, because colder air is competing with warm and juicy air from the south, severe thunderstorms are happening over the deep south region and, in fact, six tornadoes have been sighted over the gulf coast on your sunday. now, the system will likely make its way towards the northeast quickly, so by the time we head to tuesday, nicer weather should come back over the eastern parts of the u.s. now temperatures are below freezing in many locations. negative 11 degrees in winnipeg. that's 10 degrees more than normal, minus 4 degrees in chicago. and only 1 for the high in oklahoma city with subzero temperatures in the morning hours. because colder air will continue to move over the great lakes region, lake-effect snow will continue at least in through wednesday in many places, and snow will likely continue. so temperatures will be below
freezing, and strong winds, you could feel much colder than these numbers. now, across europe we have been talking about drenching rainfall, although it has been over northern italy and on sunday additional heavy rain fell. take a look at this video. northern italy once again was hit by heavy rain sunday. causing a landslide. the rivers burst their banks because of the high amount of water. at least two people were killed after their house was hit by a landslide. many roads and bridges were closed because of the poor road conditions. well heavy rain will likely continue in the north, at least for the next couple of days, but the peak of heavy rain will likely shift towards the south. this area has already seen up to 160 millimeters of rain as i mentioned more to come as we go into the next several days. severe weather is likely for the mid part of italy and the northwestern corner of the balkan peninsula, even tornadoes cannot be ruled out, and out west another batch of heavy rain
can be found over western france. gusty conditions expected on your monday. temperatures are in single digits across the east. only 6 degrees for the high in warsaw and minus figures in moscow despite sunshine. a quick look at asia. sunshine for you in many parts of china and the korean peninsula. across the kanto region as well. for the rest of japan rain is falling but by tuesday, clear weather should come back across the area. temperatures are as follows. tokyo at 17 degrees for the high with partly sunny skies. more than normal across seoul at 10 degrees. and also ulan bator at 2 degrees for the high on tuesday. here's the extended forecast.
bone part. an enthusiast in south korea has forked out almost 1.9 million euros, about $2.4 million for one of the french emperor's hats. that's five times higher than expected. experts believe napoleon wore the trademark felt hat around 1810. and they think he took it with him on to the battlefield. >> translator: there are very few of napoleon's hats left. there were only about 120 in all. today 19 are documented and 17 are in museums. >> napoleon's vest later came into possession of the hat. it's been on display at a museum in monaco. a major south korean food producer made the successful bid at auction near paris. a representative said the firm would show the hat at its new office to attract visitors. it was the first time in 45 years one of napoleon's hats has gone to auction. that's "newsline" for this hour. i'm gene otani in tokyo. ññ
x hello, and welcome. it is 1:00 p.m. here in the french capital. at what isa look making headlines this hour. an act of pure evil, that is how american president barack obama a manbes the beheading of from an aid group. also, in the wake of an acrimonious cheese to any summits, another round of sanctions is being discussed for