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tv   Newsline  LINKTV  December 28, 2020 5:00am-5:31am PST

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♪ thank you for joining us on this edition of nhk "newsline." infections and bed options continue to rise. the tokyo metropolitan government reported 481 new patients, highest total for a monday. hospital bed occupancy is rising, especially in big cities. stands at nearly 65% in tokyo, nearly 75% in osaka.
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prime minister suga yoshihide is asking people to stick to the basics. >> translator: i would ask people to take thorough measures, such as shing their hands, gargling and so on. and i also would like everyone to observe a quiet year end and new year period. >> the government's task force held a meeting monday to discuss the latest development. officials are also taking action to prevent the transmission of new strains of the virus, suspended the entry of nonresident foreign nationals for one month, the measure takes effect monday and will continue through january 31st. similar restriction is in effect for travelers from the united kingdom and south africa, all travelers returning to or entering japan from parts of the world where the variants have been confirmed need to submit a
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negative test certificate. travellers need to take a test been 72 hours before departure, and another upon arrival in japan. the government says it will continue to allow people to travel for business to and from ten designated countries and taiwan. >> translator: i often go to foreign countries for business, but now i'm worried about whether i will be able to come back to japan. >> translator: i try not to touch anything, even the tray table on the airplane. and i won't take off my face mask. >> the government is also suspending a conditional exemption of a 14-day self-quarantine for japanese and foreign residents when they re-enter japan after a short overseas business trip. health ministry officials say they have identified an 8th person infected with new strain of the coronavirus. a woman in her 50s.
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officials say the woman returned from britain on december 13th and produced a negative result when tested upon arrival in japan. she later became feverish and was admitted to a medical facility in tokyo last tuesday. health ministry officials say the woman did not use tranort and had not been in close contact with anyone since arriving. the seven cases earlier confirmed included five travelers and a pilot who recently came back from the uk and his wife. the european yooung union is launching a massive vaccination drive. the rollout began on sunday using a vaccine developed by u.s. pharmaceutical firm pfizer and its german partner biontech. it's the first vaccine authorized for use by the eu. priority to residents of care facilities and staff. next in line, other senior
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citizens and medical professionals. others expect to receive shots next spring. in italy, five medical workers received the country's first shot. at more than 70,000, italy's covid-19 death toll is europe's highest. >> translator: i have seen with my own eyes how difficult it is to fight the virus. i would like people to be loved ones and community.f their >> germany's nationwide inoculation effort is also in full swing. people in europe have become increasingly concerned as cases of the new variants of the virus are being identified. eu has signed contracts for up to 2 billion doses of coronavirus vaccine, including the one developed by pfizer and bitech, bua senior is optimistic saying the virus hasn't yet mutated in way that makes significant impact to its susceptibility to drugs or
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vaccines now under development. now back to japan, severe weather hitting parts of the country this winter. meteorological agency forecasting heavy snow over the winter pressure pattn expect to bring heavy snow to the coast wednesday and saturday. snow is also forecast for flat areas along the pacific coast. agency is calling on people to finish preparing for the frigid conditions by tuesday. they shouldn't go out unless it's essential. >> translator: people need to prepare snow tires or chains for their cars. please be aware of snow falling from roofs. heavy snow might cause power outages and trees to fall down. >> earlier this month, a strong air mass brought heavy snowfall, blizzards trapped more than
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2,000 vehicles for many hours on an expressway. in the united states, authorities say a 63-year-old man believed to be responsible for a bombing on christmas day in the southern state of tennessee died in the blast. >> we've come to the conclusion that an individual named anthony warner is the bomber. he was present when the bomb went off and that he perished in the bombing. >> this comes more than two days after a recreational vehicle blew up in downtown nashville, injuring three people and damaging more than 40 buildings. officials said remains found at the scene matched warner's dna. they also said analysis of footage from nearby security cameras indicated the suspect acted alone. investigators said the vehicle arrived at the scene about five hours before the blast. they went on to say that a recorded announcement warned
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that a bomb was about to detonate just beforehe explosion. investigators are searching the suspect's home and talking to his acquaintances in an attempt to determine his motive. the japanese animation film "demon slayer" has shattered the country's all time box office record, earning more than 32.4 billion yen or about $310 million in just over two months. the previous record was 31.6 billion yen for the 2001 animation fantasy "spirited away." the distributor of "demon
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slayer" says more than 24 million people have seen the film in theaters since it was released october 16th. the film is based on a hit manga series about a boy who fights demons in japan about a century ago. it's a sequel to a tv animation series aired last year. an expert said the appeal of "demon slayer" may be partly attributed to people's sensibilities during the coronavirus outbreak. >> translator: the film is about justice prevailing. it has a positive message at a time when ny of us are feeling depressed. i think that's why the movie has gained such wide acceptance. >> and he pointed out that while the film stayed true to the original story, it also brought in some new elements that appealed to fans and movie goers alike. japan's meteorological agency says a volcanic eruption has occurred on an island in the southwestern prefecture of
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kagoshima. the agency says the eruption took place on suwanosejima island at around 2:48 a.m. early monday morning. the agency raised its volcanic alert level from 2 to 3 on its five-tier scale. an agency official said the eruption ejected large rocks up to 1.3 kilometers southeast of the otake crater. he warned about the possibility of large rocks falling on areas within about two kilometers of the volcano. a residential area on the island is located some four kilometers away. local officials say that as of december 1st, the island had 81 residents. explosive eruptions have occurred on the island more frequently since last monday. the european union and the united kingdom have agreed on a grace period before placing full tariffs on hybrid and electric vehicles made with parts from outside the area. a free trade deal struck between the two on thursday aims for
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zero tariffs on goods traded between britain and the eu from january 1st. but sufficient local content is needed to qualify. levies are imposed on cars if more than 45% of their parts are sourced from outside. the two sides agreed on a six-year phased-in approach for autos seen as eco-friendly. vehicles with a ratio of up to 60% of outside parts will be tariff-free until 2023. that will be reduced to 55% from 2024 to 2026 and revert to 45% in 2027. the timeline may impt japanese caakers ch as toyota motor and nissan motor. they assemblhybrid and electric vehicles overseas using major components imported from japan. this means the companies will need to raise their local content to avoid future tariffs. chinese regulators say they've identified major issues with how the large payment
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services provider ant group does business. it's affiliated with the e-commerce giant alibaba group and operates the payment app alipay. watchdogs including the people's bank of china and the china banking and insurance regulatory commission announced on sunday that it asked the group to review its business practices. ant group had expanded its financial services to include small loans and insurance. the regulators ordered that it return its focus to payment services and establish a new company to extend loans unde their supervisn. alipay is estimated to have more than 1 billion users, mainly in china. last month, ant group's initial public offering was suspended following a meeting between chinese regulators and company executives. the chinese government has been intensifying pressure on alibaba after its founder, jack ma, criticized financial authorities. the government launched an anti-monopoly investigation of alibaba's business activities.
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let's check on the weather now. here's a look at the three-day forecast for cities around the world.
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that's all for now on nhk "newsline." we'll be back with the latest at the top of the hour. please do stay with us. welcome to this edition of biz stream. we feature businesses and innovation coming out of japan. >> some companies are drawing
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attention to the unique business models to overcome the challenge. one is hoping the a.i. harvesting robots can fill the void and are providing them to farmers at a surprisingly low cost. for farmers that still prefer to work with humans, another company has found way to bring new staff to shorthanded farmers by introducing new workers who want to experience life in the country. today we'll go on-site to see how technology is answering the call and helping japanese farmers to overcome a major labor shortage. >> so, japan is struggling with a labor shortage, but it's not just japan, right? this is happening around the world. >> japan is a forerunner in terms of aging. labor is a big, big issue here, but other countries are struggling as well. most countries have been focusing on immigration. but that has become a very, very difficult issue as well. so now we need much smarter solutions. we need to have young people interested in agriculture and
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finding technology solutions for them. >> let's begin with a start-up that is providing shorthanded farmers with a high-tech helper at a surprisingly low cost. >> reporter: the first farm we visited is located in sawa prefecture. farmer kotaro owns these asparagus fields. since asparagus can grow well over 10 centimeters a day, they must be harvested regularly. each morning at dawn, a team of three to four staff spend four hours harvesting over 3,000 spears of asparagus. but recently they've added a new member to their team. an autonomous harvester robot. this robot can navigate the greenhouse entirely on its own and is able to select and pick only mature asparagus spears that meet the farm's harvest requirements.
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so, how can this robot tell the difference between immature and mature plants? after inputting thousands of mature asparagus into its memory, the robot's a.i. system can compare the asparagus it views with the camera sensors. it can pick asparagus before gently placing the spears in its robot box. it takes a robot four mes longer than a seasoned worker to harvest a spear of asparagus. although it is nots fast as humans, it is providing welcome support. >> translator: it certainly isn't perfect, but it's taken some of the load off of us and we really appreciate that. not to mention the robot never complains or feels under the weather. and if there are any mechanical issues, we're immediately provided with a replacement.
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>> reporter: the company that developed this robot is an agri tech start up called inaho. founded in 2018, many of the company's engineers hail from university research departments and electronics makers. their business model is almost as unique as their robots. the company lends out their robots to farmers for free, and then receives 15% of sales from the asparagus that its robots pick. even more valuable to them than the sales earnings is the data they receive from the robots. this not only allows them to make improvements to their hardware and software. it lets them provide the farmers with updates that increase efficiency. this process has allowed them to create four new models in the
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last two years, with upgrades to both the body and robotic picking arm. and perhaps their most impressive achievement, improvements to their image recognition system have helped increase harvesting accuracy from around 50% to up to 80%. >> translator: we're always working towards providin farmers with the most cutting-edge technology. that's one reason we use a profit sharing system instead of just selling them the hardware. that and our priority is getting the robots out in the fields to be used by as many farmers as possible. >> farmers growing other produce don't need to be jealous for much longer. the companies are working on robots specifically designed to harvest other vegetables. >> okay. so, a robot that picks asparagus. this is pretty cool. >> that is very cool. it's a brilliant company. it actually won the accelerator award last year. that means that it is not only, well, top-notch robotics and technology in japan. it means they have a smart business model. >> what's impressive is the
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price they rent it out for. i thought it would be a bit more expensive. >> that is very important in japan. the main reason is that it is much less venture capital going around than the u.s., for example. that means that companies need to come up with a good package from the start, in particular when they're focusing on something as tricky as agriculture. >> you know, in the video they he were talking about this robot being four times slower than an actual worker. but i mean, when you're looking at an aging population, the labor shortage, any help you can get is good, right?
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>> this is just the start. this businessness model needs to be rolled out. japan has so many greenhouses. this is where they really can build something even beyond asparagus-picking robots. >> yeah, they were saying maybe cucumbers or something else, right? >> cucumbers, yes. >> robots can be the future of agriculture. the industry still needs real people. we visited a tomato farm using an i.t. company helping them bring in reinforcements. >> reporter: the farm lands around the village benefit from the rich soil provided by one of the largest volcanos of the world, mount aso. she has come all the way from tokyo to tryout life in the country. at the airport waiting to greet her is shozo, a local tomato farmer. although they are meeting for the first time, she will be
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spending the next three days working on his fields. she'll be sting in a special room that he has set up for guests. >> translator: you get a pretty decent view of mount aso from here. >> translator: oh, wow. i was born and raised in tokyo, so i thought it wod be nice to get out and experience a place with lots of natural beauty. i'm also interested in learning more about tomatoes and trying something that can be only done in a place like this. >> reporter: so how is she able to find a small tomato farm on the distant island of kyushu? a matching service. they locate farms lacking staff, find short-term workers interested in giving farming a try. the ability to get paid while traveling around japan has proven to be a big hit with users. on this trip, she will not only receive free room and board. she'll be paid about $140 for the work she does. >> translator: currently about
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60% of our users are college students. but the number of freelancers has been increasing recently. overall we're seeing amazing growth and are doubling the number of matches we make each month. >> reporter: at 6:30 the next morning, she is ready to start working. today she'll be spending time in these greenhouses picking grape tomatoes. >> translator: and snap it off. >> reporter: since she has never worked on a farm before, he gives her some basic tips and pointers before letting her work on her own. >> translator: how does it feel here? i don't think it's ripe just yet. >> reporter: after two solid hours of hard work, she's ready for a break. >> translator: looks like you did pretty good. >> translator: i started to get the hang of it at the end. >> reporter: today she picks tomatoes, cleared off excess leaves, and removed weeds.
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in total, she worked for about six hours. >> translator: it was super hot. i had no idea the amount of hard work that goes into picking the tomatoes we find in the super market. >> reporter: during her free time, she got a chance to explore some of the areas around the village. on ts day he decided to take her out and show her one of the area's famous springs. >> translator: it is also known for its groundwater. it's one of the main reasons this area is great for growing crops. >> translator: it's quite cold. >> reporter: he wants to introduce more young people from japan's larger cities to the
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charm of the area and the joys of agriculture. >> translator: if it wasn't for this matching service, i'd never meet people like her. i think the system offers something much more valuable than just short-term work. while i'm concerned about having enough workers today and tomorrow, i'm looking farther ahead and more focused on attracting a new generation of farmers for the future. >> i really love this. i think this is something everyone should experience at least once, and i feel like this will really give you an appreciation for the food we eat every day. we kind of take it for granted. you see how much work goes into picking one tomato, you appreciate it more. >> and these working holidays are so popular around the world. all the young kids love to go to australia. >> oh, right. >> and surf a little bit as well. >> yes. >> so this is a very, very good idea. >> have you experienced anything like this yourself? >> i did. very popular working holidays in europe. i did this when i was young. wine picking, going into the vineyards, picking wine. >> right. >> you stay for three, five
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days. it's very, very hard work. but you get brilliant wine, brilliant food, you meet new people and you become a lifelong wine lover on the way. >> and you still are a lifelong wine lover, right? >> yes. wine is expensive in japan. it is improving. i love it and consumers are really going after it right now. >> yeah. so, you know, with the pandemic, do you think that we're going to see more demand for something like this? >> i think this is really picking up. many, many people are thinking about moving out of these cities in japan. a friend of mine moved to the japanese alps. i really doubt this is for everybody. so in particular for young people, for the kids, it's really important that they have such a matching service that helps them to do this on a much more srt-term basis. >> yeah, absolutely. i mean, any other final thoughts on this system? >> well, matching for the young people is very, very important. japanese kids are so very busy. they need to have this contact with the country side, with the
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food as you mentned. i think this is really the way to go. >> appreciation for nature, right? >> this is what we need in the big cities, definitely. >> all right. martin, that's it for today. thank you so much for being with us. that's it for this week. this is biz stream. we'll see you next time. @aaa qqu
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