welcome back to "newsline." it is tuesday february 2nd. i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. the world health organization said the outbreak of the zika virus is an extraordinary event. the agency placed the virus in the same category of concern as ebola. w.h.o. director margaret chan told reporters on monday that coordinated international action was needed. she said the goal is to improve detection, speed up work on a vaccine, and develop better diagnostics for the disease. she also advised pregnant women to avoid traveling to affected areas. the first cases of the mosquito-borne virus were confirmed in brazil last may. the w.h.o. has noted a
suspicious link between the zika's arrival in the country and a surge in the number of babies born with abnormally small heads. >> the experts agree that a cause al relationship between the zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly are connected, though not scientifically proven. >> infections have now been reported in 25 countries and territories, mainly as crocrossl and south america. other nations have confirmed infections among travelers who returned from affected countries. the disease has an incubation period of 3 to 12 days. the symptoms include mild fever, muscle aches and headaches that last up to a week. there is no treatment or vaccine available now for the zika virus. russia is sending more military might into syria.
defense officials have dispatched advance fighter jets on syria's western coast. the move comes after turkey accused another russian warplane of violating its air space last week. a russian defense ministry spokesperson announced the deployment of state of the art 35-s combat planes. to an air be last week. the base is central to russia's air campaign in support of bashar al assad. russian media say the s-u 35-s has more advanced combat capabilities than other models. they say it can launch an attack on an enemy target while escorting bombers. tensions flared in november when a fighter jet downed a russian bomber. it took place near the turkish border with syria. delegations from the syrian government and main opposition
group are both in geneva for peace talks. the aim is to bring an end to the five-year civil war that has killed more than 250,000 people. but there's still work to be done before both sides are able to sit at the same table for negotiations. representatives from the main opposition group held talks with u.n. special envoy stefan for the second day in a row on monday. after the meeting, the opposition expressed hope that the u.n. mediator will urge the syrian government to accept its demands. it's calling for an end to sieges and air strikes against civilia civilians. the opposition said the demands are preconditioned to entering into direct negotiations with the assad administration. the u.n. special envoy said he will send these requests to the government side on tuesday. >> the discussions are starting, but meanwhile, the challenge is now let's also have those who have the capacity of discussing
this at different levels, time to discuss about cease-fire. >> he's expected to have separate talks with both sides on tuesday in a bid to help narrow their differences. also on monday, a leader of the rebel group army of islam arrived in geneva. the syrian government opposes the inclusion of the armed group in the opposition delegation. alush told reporters the army of islam is working together with those in the main opposition group. at least 20 people have been killed after a suicide bomber blew himself up in front of a police station in kabul on monday. the attacker detonated his explosives after a policeman spotted him close to the gate. afghan police say at least 29 others were injured, and the majority of the dead and wounded are civilians. the taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack. the militant group conducted another suicide attack last july in the afghan capital.
a car with explosives rammed into a mini bus carrying tv station staff, killing at least seven people. the afghan government and the taliban held their first direct peace talks last july, but there's been no second round of discussion. the impact of the bank of japan's negative interest rate policy appears to be wearing off. investors are again looking at oil prices. io ai uchida joins us from the business desk. >> stock prices are down this morning. tokyo share prices did see a strong gain for two straight sessions, following the historic boj move into negative territory. u.s. stock indices closed mixed overnight as oil prices turned downward. the risk on sentiment has waned and tokyo stocks opened lower. the nikkei is trading lower by more than a third of a percent. 17,798. the topix also lower by .4%.
shares of major oil exporters are declining yesterday's weak manufacturing figures from china, another negative factor in addition to lower crude oil prices. the dollar's retreating from yesterday's high, trading at 120.88 to 93 against the yen. the dollar/yen pair had spiked after the boj move last friday. the dollar is edging lower against the euro. analysts say comments from the u.s. federal reserve vice chairman yesterday on the recent market turmoil could signal a slower pace of rate hikes. let's see what's happening across the asia-pacific region. we are seeing a negative picture so far. australian shares down by more than half a percent as the reserve bank needs to review interest rates today. kospi trading lower by half a percent, too. a japanese business leader is urging thailand to become part of what he calls a win-win trade deal.
the chairman of the japan chamber of commerce and industry wants the southeast asian country to join the transpacific partnership to strengthen its role as a regional export hub. he made a comment in a meeting with thailand's interim prime minister. na muehra is visiting southeast asia with a delegate of nearly 80 executives ahead of the signing in new zealand thursday. thailand's a major manufacturing base for japanese companies. he said working together to make products and export them to tpp member countries would benefit both japan and thailand. >> translator: the tpp members include vietnam and malaysia. if thailand is not part of the pact, it may disadvantaged when japanese companies try to boost production capacity in asia. >> he agreed that joining the
tpp is an attractive option, but he added his country first needs to sort out domestic issues. he said he would like to make a decision after examining the effects of the trade deal on participating nations. well, vietnam is part of the tpp, and japanese officials have been visiting that country, too. officials from the japan external trade organization put together a seminar on how the free trade deal can be used effectively. they were speaking to representatives of japanese firms doing business in vietnam. officials from japan's trade ministry presented an outline of the broad agreement. this included a timeline on when far rifs on items like textiles and auto parts will be eliminated. speakers also explained an expected increase in exports from vietnam to the united states after the tpp pact takes effect. investment and services will be liberalized in vietnam. the officials explained this would improve the business environment for japanese
retailers, including convenience stores and supermarkets. a japanese trade ministry official called the tpp an economic partnership with a lot of potential. he wants japanese firms to understand the content of the deal and make good use of it. a new task in thailand is aimed at the wealthy. government officials say their levy on inherited assets is designed to narrow the gap between rich and poor. but critics are pointing to what they say are loopholes. inequality is a major issue in thailand. households in bangkok and other cities earn on average up to five times more than those in rural areas. the disparity is said to be behind anti-government demonstrations. officials have responded by levying a maximum 10% on inherited assets worth more than 100 million bot, about $2.8 million. the tax applies to only certain assets, including real estate,
cars, stocks, bonds, and bank deposits. but gold is an exemption. and that prompted many thais to buy the precious metal. >> translator: we're receiving a lot of calls. this is because gold is not subject to the tax, and is easy to inherit. >> some people proposed lowering the minimum taxable amount to increase the number of taxpayers, but lawmakers were opposed. a tax scholar in thailand is calling for a revision of the inheritance tax rate to more effectively eliminate the economic gap. today we begin a two-part report on some unusual trendsetters in the textile industry. the common thread here is their efforts to revive past traditions. in part one, we meet someone putting a new spin on a traditional fabric in danger of fading away. here's more. >> reporter: it's not hard to
see this fabric. it was traditionally used to make kimona, as well as work garments. it took off in the 1800s. by the mid-20th century, the area of western japan accounted for 20% of the country's output. few japanese wear kimonos anymore. and an aging work force is shrinking the pool of artisans. at the peak, there were around 250 makers. today only two remain. hir oshima wants to help revive the industry. she used to work for a
department store. she traveled around the country buying women's wear. that's the beauty of his hometown product. >> translator: it has a special feel to it. i wanted to find ways to tell more people about the textile. >> reporter: my casa set up his own business and started a campaign to win people back to the textiles. he started by getting in touch with his old contacts at department stores. he set up booths at more than 30 stores nationwide. if mikasa could get people to feel the fabric, he knows they would buy it. he also developed a new product
improving women's clothing of jackets. he hasn't limited his creations to clothes. accessories are in the lineup, too. mikasa is starting small, but he says sales have been growing steadily. >> translator: it's very warm. i like the warm and soft feel of cotton. >> translator: our production capacity is limited, so i can't hope to attract huge interest straight away. i want to create a brand steadily, offering products for every season. >> reporter: it won't happen overnight, but once it's out there, this entrepreneur is determined to put people back in touch with an old favorite.
that's the latest in business news. i'll leave you now with a check on markets. china's military established five regional commands for its operations on monday. the move is president xi jinping's latest step in overhauling the country's armed forces. state-run china central television reported the people's liberation army held a ceremony
to mark the occasion. it said the military calls them battle zones. at ceremonies, xi gave military flags to the new commanders of the five zones. the east, south, west, north, and central regions replaced the seven previous military regions. observers point out that maintaining firm control over the previous structure was difficult. they say the regions were locally oriented in terms of procurements and personnel relocation. the central military commission chaired by xi launched a general command unit last month. the purpose of the unit is to streamline the operations of ground, naval and air forces. the commission also plans to set up a joint operational command structure for each of the battle zones. chinese authorities have arrested a japanese man on suspicion of spying. the 70-year-old from japan's northern island hokkaido was detained in beijing last june. chinese authorities say he's suspected of trying to undermine
china's national security, but gave no details about his alleged action. he's the fourth japanese to be arrested in the country since last year. japan's chief cabinet secretary, suga, said china told japan over the weekend about the arrest. >> translator: japan does not spy on any other country. the government is working through its diplomatic mission in china to protect the arrested japanese national. >> chinese authorities say a japanese woman was arrested in november after being taken into custody in shanghai last june. two more japanese men were arrested in september, one near a military facility, and the other near the border with north korea. they had been detained separately last may. china has been stepping up its surveillance of foreigners' activities since new anti-spying legislation came into force in
november 2014. a pastor at one of china's biggest christian churches is under investigation for corruption. church leaders say the pastor has been charged with embezzlement. the state-sanctioned church is in the eastern province of zhejiang. he led protests against authorities for taking down crosses around the province. church leaders say over 1,200 crosses have been removed from the past two years. religious leaders and lawyers protesting the crackdown have also been detained. international human rights groups believe the investigation is the latest in a series of moves to suppress chinese christians and to present dissatisfaction with the government from spreading. a shanghai court has ordered two food processing companies to pay large fines for producing substandard products. it also handed down prison terms
to ten people for allegedly reusing expired food to prevent losses. in 2014, a chinese tv station reported shanghai fusi food had been selling relabeled expired food products. the report prompted the company's food regulators to launch an investigation. it's a sub sit area of osi chinese, the chinese office of u.s.-based global food processor osi group. the company supplied its products to mcdonald's japan and other restaurants. china's xinhua news agency reported the court imposed fines of roughly $180,000 each on the companies. the other firm is also affiliated with osi china. chinese leaders say they want to play a greater role in the global fight against terrorism. they see countering uyghur separatists in western china as part of that struggle.
officials say they pose a threat domestically and internationally. but critics say moves by beijing to combat what it calls terrorism could put further restrictions on the media, and more pressure on minority groups. >> the colors of the french flag appeared over the skyline of shanghai last november. it was a sign of solidarity following the paris terror attacks, something chinese leaders say they understand all too well. >> translator: china is also a victim of terrorism and is an important partner in the global fight against terrorism. >> the government's anti-terror campaign is widely covered by state-run media. the day after the paris attacks, security officials released photos they say show the crackdown on terrorists. in the uyghur autonomous region. state-run tv followed up with a report of an attack on a coal mine in the region.
the report claimed the attack killed 16 people, including police officers. and it said police hunted down and killed 28 terrorists responsible for the attack. the incident was in september. nearly two months before the report came to light. that has led to speculation about the motivation of officials regarding the timing of the report. the attack and the later report are being investigated by radio-free asia. the washington-based station broadcasts in nine asian languages. journalists at the station have been talking to people in the region in an attempt to uncover more details about the attack. leading the investigation is this man, a uyghur who moved to
the u.s. 17 years ago. he doubts the claim by authorities that those killed by the police were terrorists. >> translator: chinese officials have not mentioned that there were women and children among those killed by the police. >> he said that the paris attacks gave chinese officials a chance to justify their actions. he also believes that they're trying to put pressure on him by detaining his brothers, who are still in china. >> translator: we report what the chinese government doesn't want the world to know. authorities are trying to stop us, because we can hit them where it hurts. >> journalists inside china have also been targeted by authorities. a french magazine carried an article criticizing beijing's appeal for solidarity. its author claimed that the real aim of the leaders was to win global approval for their
policies on uyghurs. a rebuttal in a communist party affiliated newspaper accused gottier of distorting the facts. officials demanded she withdraw the article and apologize. >> translator: she blatantly championed acts of terrorism. she did not apologize. she's no longer suitable to continue working in china. >> gottier was based in beijing as a correspondent. a request to extend her press visa was denied. >> translator: china is urging foreign media to agree to its terms. and become a part of the channels to promote china's propaganda campaign. >> the authorities are placing more and more restrictions on uyghurs in the region. activists and journalists say that policy could backfire. now a time for a check of the weather. people in tokyo are seeing clear, blue, sunny skies this
morning. but they're bundling up. meteorologist robert speta has the details. >> yes, what we have been seeing is the cool air coming in from the northwest. that is bringing snowfall across parts of hokkaido, down through tohoku. a few locations seeing as much as 40 centimeters of the white stuff. once that gets over the mountains, it drys right up and into the tokyo area, blue skies definitely prevailing. it's going to stay on the cool side over the next several days. if you follow this front, the leading edge of that cold air, that is creating a tight pressure gradient for those across taiwan, and southern japanese islands as well. we've been seeing wind reports out here, about 70 to 90 kilometers per hour over the course of the past 24 hours. also, that cold air continuing to spill in. now, with that, though, we are going to be looking at some precipitation for parts of southeastern china, even into taiwan as well. you might want to have an umbrella ready if you are out there into taipei. a high of 14.
if you notice south of that frontal area, things are on the warm side. manila, 32, partly cloudy skies. you haven't seen rain showers out here yet this past month in february, and also towards january, just because most of the precipitation continuing to stay farther to the northeast. let's look over towards the americas now. talk about a severe storm system. if you are traveling anywhere from southwestern areas of california, extending up through ontario, in fact, over the course of the next 48 hours, you may want to be taking it slow on the roadways and also check your flights. this is going to be a potent storm. for example, into san diego, a tree down just from one of those thunderstorms that flared up here on sunday. now storms continuing to gather strength. still very dangerous. in fact in san diego, a tree also fell on top of a car. one casualty was reported out of there because of this. as it pulls to the east, we'll see very gusty winds. some areas looking at about 60,
70 centimeters of snowfall. that alone is not that bad. it is heavy snow, and some of these areas it's not that uncommon. but combined with 90 kilometer per hour wind gusts, it's going to be creating very low visibility. we're talking about dangerous windchills. that's why we have blizzard watches and warnings in effect. the moisture surging in out of the gulf of mexico. across the gulf states, to tennessee, we're looking at severe thunderstorms coming out of this, with a chance of tornadoes, and even large hail as well. look at the contrast in temperatures, though. this is what's really fueling up our storm system. houston a high of 20. back to the north, minus 10 there in winnipeg. a lot of you are going to be looking at basically this roller coaster ride in temperatures. toronto getting up to 7 here on wednesday. but dropping down to minus 3 by thursday. in st. louis, 19 all the way down to 5 on your wednesday. so you may be wanting to bundle
up, even though it feels a little more spring-like. here towards europe, the british isles, we have the area of low pressure bringing gusty, somewhat dangerous winds in a few locations. already reports around 140 kilometers per hour. you still get the gusts that high. south of that, it is on the mild side. rome high 14. athens getting up to 21 here on tuesday. here's your extended outlook.
"euromaxx highlights." and here's your host, louise houghton. louise: welcome to a special edition of our highlights today. we'll be featuring the top five destinations in europe, as chosen by you and the rankings from the world tourism organization. here's a quick look forward to some of our reports. famous footsteps. tracing edinburgh's literary roots. delicious dough. traveling to the birthplace of pizza. and panoramic pictures. seeing the german capital from above. so we start the countdown with the country that comes ift