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tv   Newsline  LINKTV  December 18, 2013 5:00am-5:31am PST

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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. japan has introduced new safety standards for facilities handling radioactive materials. meanwhile, massive amounts of radioactive particles fell on the ground around fukushima daiichi. today's nuclear watch looks at the cleanup effort and the challenges ahead.
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and health officials say women in china has died after contracting another strain of bird flu. a new set of safety guidelines for nuclear facilities other than power plants has come into effect. they will cover almost 250 facilities nationwide. the rules are much stricter than before, especially for processing plants. operators will need to take similar measures against accident accidents as those who run nuclear plants. nhk world has more. >> reporter: in total, 248 facilities across japan will be subject to the measures. the new rules apply to nuclear facilities such as a nuclear fuel fabrication facility in tokai prefecture. japan's nuclear regulatory body, the nra, approved the rules last month in response to the 2011 accident at the fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant.
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>> translator: the new safety standards, while laid down, considering japan's environmental conditions and other difficulties. i think they are strict enough. >> reporter: the severity of the requirements varies according to the type of facility. for instance, kyoto university's research reactor in osaka is required to take measures to prevent accidental emissions of radioactive material. the nra's personnel will regularly carry out inspections. the strictest rules apply to two processing plants and seven fuel fabrication facilities. operators must take measures equivalent to nuclear power plants to prevent serious accidents, such as hydrogen explosions and nuclear chain reaction. they need to have emergency measures in place in case of
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huge earthquakes and tsunamis. anticipating the new measures, the operator of one processing plant has already installed some equipment such as this fire truck. it can douse storage pools for spent fuel to prevent the fuel from melting in the case of a power loss. they also installed this air compressor to help prevent hydrogen explosions by supplying air to lower the content pressure in the plant in the case of a power outage. but even with these new standards, some local officials and residents live near these facilities express anxiety. one city is in the vicinity of the reprocessing plant. currently, the city has an evacuation plan for residents who live within a five-kilometer
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radius, but they feel that the japanese government should review the measures. >> translator: we hope the government will announce the guidelines as soon as possible, then we can start drawing up the new evacuation plan. >> translator: i think evacuation plans for residents should be strengthened, along with the preparations for starting the plant, but i feel that the only thing taking place is the speeding up of the start of the plant's operation. >> reporter: the accident at fukushima daiichi shook the nation. even when the new stricter regulations, the anxieties of people living close to nuclear-related facilities have not been entirely quelled, and more steps need to be taken.
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nhk world, tokyo. the people in charge of the fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant say they've decided to scrap two reactors that escaped serious damage in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. they've already made plans to dismantle the other four. tokyo electric power company officials say reactors number 5 and 6 are stable. an emergency power system kept them cool when the disaster struck, but the utilities directors decided on wednesday to decommission them. the mayor of okuma, one of the towns hosting the plant, acknowledging that it provided the community with jobs and an economic boost. >> translator: we will face various problems with our plant, but we must look to the future and try to rebuild the community. >> tepco executives say they won't scrap the reactors
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immediately. they want to train workers there and test technologies for decommissioning the reactors that suffered meltdowns. they say it may take 40 years to fully close the plant. the japanese government has begun to publicly solicit information on technologies that could help safely remove fuel debris from the crippled fukushima daiichi plant. in 2020 or later, japan plans to restart removing melted fuel from the three reactors that suffered meltdowns in the march 2011 disaster. the removal of the fuel debris is a core part of the work to decommission the plant. it's expected to take 30 to 40 years. the international research institute for nuclear decommissioning, or irid, explained the current plan to some 130 engineers and researchers at a briefing session in tokyo. the plan is to fill the reactor containment vessels with water to minimize workers' exposure to radiation. institute officials said they are seeking information on ways
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to examine the commission of the melted fuel inside the reactor and containment vessels, which have complicated structures. they are also asking for ideas on ways to remove the fuel by remote control. >> translator: we welcome a broad range of proposals from various fields. >> the officials said they believe there are numerous technologies in the world that can be applied to this project. proposals will be accepted in either japanese or english through the irid website through january 31st. french nuclear safety specialists have been trying to clear up what they say are misconceptions about fukushima. they took a group of french journalists on a tour of the prefecture. journalists visited date city around 50 kilometers from the nuclear plant. they saw how residents are tackling contamination from the resident. they watched officials test dried persimmons and told
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reporters the readings were within the safety standards. farmers recently resumed shipment of the fruit after a three-month hiatus. they were impressed to see how hard people are working to ensure the safety of local produce. >> translator: it's important to describe things accurately and challenge the preconceived notions of people abroad. >> the reporters were also visited a former peach orchard that's now used to store contaminated soil. they learned authorities were able to secure the use of the site with cooperation of locals. much of the talk about the cleanup of japan's nuclear accident has focused on fukushima daiichi, but levels in the community surrounding the damaged plant have kept nearly 150,000 people from returning home. crews are decome tam nighting
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cities and towns. over the next three days, nuclear watch will take a look at the decontamination process from different angles. nhk world's nokura yamikawa starts us off. >> reporter: a massive amount of radioactive materials were dispersed over land and sea. nearly three years old, some of those materials have reached their half-life and their toxicity is diminishing, but the radiation levels are still above safe limits in many areas. entry is restricted in the orange area. no one can go into the red area. the radiation there is more than 50 times the government's desired exposure limit. the work includes cleaning up land, vegetation, buildings, and roads. crews are using brushes to scrub rooftops and they are wiping down walls.
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they are removing about five centimeters of topsoil and gravel and replacing it with sand and other materials. they are using high pressure washers to spray down roads. the government has set aside $15 billion for the decontamination effort. but the work is taking longer than expected. we went to find out why. he is a notary from iwate. the village is about 40 kilometers northwest of fukushima daiichi. high levels of radiation there are keeping him away from his home. he lives with his parents in a nearby city.
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>> translator: in the early days of the nuclear crisis, radiation levels were very high in the rain gutters around here. >> reporter: late last month, workers hired by the government decontaminated his home. they followed government guidelines as they scraped away topsoil and ripped out weeds. they pack the waste into plastic bags and carried it away. the radiation level of the waste was very high. yamaguchi was disappointed with the results. the level on his property was still twice the target, even after the decontamination. he thinks there won't be another chance to clean up his property.
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>> translator: i feel like the government is just going through their motions. but the objective of the process should be to ensure safety for the people who want to return without fear. >> reporter: central government officials have been trying to gain support for their guidelines. >> translator: our decontamination follows the same rules. please understand we can't apply different rules for different places. >> reporter: the government needs permission from residents before it can decontaminate private property. it's facing resistance. >> translator: i have no idea if the current procedures are
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effective where radiation levels are higher than elsewhere. >> reporter: in some areas, residents are withholding their concerns and demanding a more effective cleanup. another factor slowing down the decontamination program is the extremely difficult task of deciding where to store radioactive waste. these hundreds of bags contain soil, branches, grass, and other materials removed during the decontamination process. and there are many, many more bags around fukushima. they are piled up at temporary storage sites. in some places, local officials can't even secure a short-term depository, so decontamination
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work can't begin. in the midterm, the plan is to start transferring the waste by 2015 to properly sealed storage facilities, but no communities have agreed to host them. they want assurance that the permanent storage site will be built elsewhere. central government officials say they will keep looking for more effective solutions. >> translator: there is options. we'll be studying to accelerate the decontamination process. it's important to discuss these matters with people in local communities. >> reporter: japanese leaders are considering spending billions of dollars to speed up the process. but one of the greatest challenges still remains, winning the trust of the local
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residents. noriko okaza, nhk world. our special edition of "nuclear watch" will continue this week. in our next segment, we'll look at how contaminated soil is affecting the region's main industry, agriculture, and how farmers are trying to change the situation. it's getting more expensive to buy homes in the big cities of china. ron madison has been following the latest. ron? >> this current situation no doubt leaving government officials scratching their head. they may have to rethink policies because new home prices in china just keep rising in major cities. in november, they rose in most of the cities surveyed and that's despite the government's efforts to control prices. researchers say housing prices increased last month in 66 of the 70 cities that were surveyed compared to the previous month. prices went up 1.3% in fuzhou
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and 0.9% in the south. compared to a year earlier, shanghai and beijing home prices jumped more than 20%. government officials are stepping up measures to curb the upward trend. big cities must also set price control targets, but the continuing advance may fuel public frustration. meanwhile, foreign direct investment continues to grow at a modest pace. foreign firms made direct investments worth around $8.5 billion in november. that's a gain of 2.4% from a year ago. the pace has moderated following sharp rises of 20% in both june and july. china has become less attractive due to soaring labor costs and a stronger u.n. from january through november, investments from the e.u. grew 17.4%. those from the u.s. went up 8.6% compared to a year ago, but
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investments from japan were up only 2.3%. souring relations between japan and china may be behind the weak growth. let's get a check of the markets now. european equities lifted by signs germany's economic outlook is brighter going forward. dax is up by nearly 1%. business confidence among german companies reached its strongest level since april 2012. this matched upbeat indicators out of germany released early in the week. london is up by 0.3 of a percent. earlier in asia, market performance was pretty mixed. tokyo's nikkei climbed more than 2% with market heavyweights leading the advance. india rebounding from six straight sessions of declines. the country's central bank left it unchanged. checking in on currencies now. dollar/yen is little changed
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currently trading right around 102.93. all eyes on whether the fed will scale back its $85 billion a month in bond purchases in a policy meeting ending later on today. the british pound rose after the uk unemployment rate saw a bigger decline than estimates, dropping 7.4%, leading expectations england may drop its key rate earlier than forecast. imports have surpassed exports for the 17th month in a row, making fuel more expensive to import. officials at the finance ministry say the deficit in november came to $12.6 billion, which marks the longest string of negative trade since 1979. it's also a record figure for november. exports surged more than 18% from a year earlier when calculated in yen to about 57 billion dollars. vehicle exports to the u.s. surged on the back of the weaker
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yen and china bought more chemical products. imports soared more than 21% from a year earlier in yen terms to right around $70 billion. japan bought more aircraft from the u.s. and the cost of crude oil and natural gas continues to rise. exports grew both in value and volume but japan did spend more on its imports. a japanese state-backed bank has taken a step towards promoting infrastructure projects by japanese firms. it will provide a loan with favorable terms to a saudi arabian utility. top executives of the japan bank for international cooperation and state-run saudi electricity company signed a lending agreement in tokyo. the bank will team up to offer more than $360 million in loans,
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that is to help thermal power generation from japanese firms. details of the loan were not disclosed, but officials from the state-backed bank say they have set a lower interest rate in order to ease the utilities burden. that is going to wrap it up for biz tonight. let's get a check of the markets. health authorities in hong kong say another strain of bird
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flu has killed someone. they say a woman in mainland china died earlier this month after contracting the h10n8 strain. experts say it's the first time they detected it in a person. officials at hong kong's center for health protection say the victim is a 73-year-old woman. she went into the hospital on november 30th with pneumonia. she died six days later. officials say before following ill, she visited a live poultry market. health authorities are now checking to see if anyone around her has contracted the flu, but they haven't found any abnormalities. an expert with the institute of infectious diseases says gene analysis shows it's a weak strain of the virus but health authorities need to monitor the situation closely. another strain has infected more than 140 people this year in
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chi china, taiwan, and hong kong. at least 45 have died. united nations officials fear hundreds were killed. battles erupted on sunday between rival groups, soldiers in the capital juba. a group close to the former vice president plotted a coup. u.n. officials believe about 400 people killed and 800 injured. the situation was killing down, but gun battles were reported on tuesday near the former vice president's residents. tanks and armored vehicles were deployed. at least 7,000 civilians have been taking shelter in the city. about 400 japanese self defense force personnel are in the country for a peacekeeping mission. 170 are unable to return to japan because the local airport has been closed. they've already completed their six-month mission. it's snowing in western
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tokyo, and our meteorologist robert speta has more on the first snow this season in the capital. robert? >> some of these areas in higher elevations, including western kotu have seen accumulation through the afternoon and evening hours and a lot of that white stuff is going to be pushing east through the overnight hours all due to this low pressure area which started off in southeastern china, now moving south of japan. this is the path storms typically have to take to get that snowfall in and around the tokyo area. we always talk about the sea effect snow, but those storms come from the northwest and typically gets stopped before it gets over there towards the pacific coast. this one is coming in from the south. has cold air wrapping around it and that is why right now we're seeing rainy and coastal areas, but that's going to be shifting farther inland and some areas could see upwards of 30 to 35 centimeters of northern tokyo and going through the overnight
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hours, we're going to be seeing a dusting of snow on the ground in the downtown area, very well possible. nothing that's going to accumulate too much, but around midnight to 3:00 a.m., much of tokyo extending down through northern portions and the east, you're going to be seeing frozen precipitation, rain, but really a mix going into the morning hours near that coast. the big thing, though, is it will be melting off as we go into the afternoon and evening hours. expecting temperatures to rebound back up around 10 degrees. farther towards the north, really just snow is continuing to linger across much of korea. this storm system's pushing off towards the east, separate low pressure area and that's going to bring foul weather to northern japan and the sea of japan coastline, as well. all that pushing east. we have the northeast monsoon, cold surge diving in behind that. leading edge bringing thunderstorms across parts of
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the philippines. manila, you've been seeing strong weather here through the day on wednesday. partly cloudy skies on thursday. taipei with a high of 15, rain showers. seoul at minus 2. tokyo thursday getting up to 8. still getting the rain and snow mix, though, especially through the early morning hours. let's see what's going on in the americas where we have the lake effect snow still impacting much of the great lakes out here. farther to the east, we've been talking about this alberta clipper. now it's moving northeast, but before it moves out to the canadian maritimes where you're going to be seeing fairly foul weather with this system, as well. it dropped snowfall here across parts of,well, new york and boston, central park, and definitely people getting out and about and enjoying some of that accumulation on the ground. if you do want a white christmas, though, it's not going to be sticking around. temperatures will be warming up. warm air surging in from the gulf of mexico. the jet stream's doing a little
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flip here. earlier this week it was dipping down over here, now it's going to be dipping down into the southwest and warming up in the east and that's the way the temperatures will be reflecting. winnipeg, only minus 2, 22 there on thursday. new york and washington, d.c., you're going to be seeing a heat wave getting up in the mid teens, so do enjoy it while it lasts. as far as europe is concerned, messy weather in the west. this latest one is bringing in wet and windy conditions. if you're in the east, it's going to be staying relatively calm, but on the cold side. moscow, 2 there for your high, snow showers in the forecast on wednesday. but that's a look at your world weather. here's your extended forecast.
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that's "newsline" for this hour. i'm gene otani in tokyo.
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from all of us here at nhk world, thanks for joining us.
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