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tv   Newsline  WHUT  April 26, 2012 7:30am-8:00am EDT

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acquitted. a court hands down its decision on one of japan's most influential politicians. judges in tokyo have found a political kingmaker not guilty. former democratic party leader ichiro ozawa faced charged of falseifying political reports. ha quital clears him to use his political weight once again. here's nhk world at the tokyo district court. she joins us with the latest. misato? >> reporter: ozawa had said since the beginning that he was not guilty of these charges. it seems that the judges agreed with what he had to say. the presiding judge said a busy politician such as ozawa could not know what his assistants were doing with every financial
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report. prosecutors accused him of conspiring with his aides to falsify accounting records for 400 million yen, about $5 million. ozawa said he was never notified about the reports and never gave his approval. the judge seemed to believe that those arguments, he said ozawa's aides were intentionally involved in a cover-up. ozawa bowed slitly toward the judges when the presiding judge handed down the ruling. this marks the end of the trial that began half a year ago. we will have to wait and see what ozawa does next. yuko, back to you. >> thank you very much, misato. ichiro ozawa has been an influential political figure for more than two decades. he served in leadership
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positions in ruling and opposition parties. ozawa joined the democratic party in 2003. it was the largest opposition party at the time. he played a key role in shaping a force capable of challenging the government. that work finally paid off in 2009. the dpj scored a landslide victory in the lower house election ending 55 years of almost unbroken rule by the liberal democratic party. but tokyo prosecutors slowed ozawa's momentum, targeting his political funding. they charged his former aides in 2010 for falseifying an accounting report in connection with a $5 million land deal. prosecutors said the money came from a construction company hoping to win public works contracts. >> translator: i am innocent. i received no illegal donations. >> reporter: tokyo prosecutors later dropped the case against
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ozawa saying they didn't have enough evidence. but an inquest panel challenged that decision. the panel was made up of members of the public. their finding led to an indictment in january last year. soon after, the dpj decided to suspend ozawa's party membership. court-appointed lawyers serving as prosecutors summed up the case last month. they said ozawa clearly approved of the false accounting and demanded a three-year prison term. but the court criticized tokyo prosecutors describing their investigation as illegal and unjust. it rejected most of the depositions by ozawa's former aides linking him to the land deal. ozawa repeatedly pleaded not guilty. >> and the leader of the democratic party says the outcome of the trial was expected. >> translator: the acquittal is a matter of course.
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>> he says party leaders will soon begin the process of restoring ozawa's membership. the secretary-general of the main opposition liberal democratic party says in spite of the court's verdict, ozawa is tainted by the scandal. >> translator: ozawa bears heavy political responsibility considering that three of his former aides were arrested. >> ldp leaders will ask ozawa to testify before the diet about his alleged role. ozawa refused similar requests while the trial was under way. former democratic party leader ichiro ozawa has been acquitted of charges of falseifying his own political funding reports. judges in tokyo district court handed down a decision of not guilty. now in other news, thursday marks exactly 26 years since the disaster at the chernobyl nuclear power plant in the former soviet union. a memorial was held in ukraine for the victims.
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♪ gathered in the town early thursday for the memorial ceremony. the town is located about 50 kilometers from the chernobyl plant. people mourned the victims by offering candles and flowers at a monument. a reactor at the chernobyl plant exploded during an experimental operation on april the 26th, 1986. the blast released a massive amount of radioactive substances. more than 130,000 people living within a 30-kilometer radius of the plant were forced to evacuate. around 30 plant workers and firefighters died of acute radiation siness. the radiation is still affecting the environment and posing health threats to residents in ukraine, belarus and russia. last week, japan concluded a treaty with ukraine to share information on post-nuclear disaster measures following the fukushima nuclear accident.
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japan is also in talks with belarus on a similar arrangement. a canadian news agency is adding to suspicions that china may have provided north korea with military hardware. it's reporting that a chinese company sold parts that can be used as launch pads for missiles. the information center specializes in military news about asia. its web version reports the company delivered eight transporters last year. it's a subsidiary of a state-run enterprise. it makes customized military vehicles. what appear to be an intercontinental ballistic missile was mounted on a similar vehicle earlier this month during a military exercise. >> translator: the firm must have known the transport vehicles were for military use in north korea. we can conclude from a technological viewpoint that the vehicles are not for commercial
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use. >> a u.n. security council resolution bans providing north korea with materials that can be used for weapons. japanese government officials now admit they were slow to react to north korea's launch of what they say was a missile. they say they should have alerted the public as soon as they received the first reports. north korean officials launched what they say was a rocket carrying a satellite two weeks ago. it exploded less than two minutes later. the government took more than 40 minutes to inform the public. so government officials set up a panel to investigate what went wrong. the government announced through its emergency information network that it could not confirm whether north korea had gone ahead with a launch. the panel has yet to release its report, but an advance copy says the announcement was poorly woed. it says the government should have disclosed information about the launch using the j-alert system. as soon as it tlefd reports from the united states. the j-alert system is used to issue warnings to local
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governments via satellite. the u.s. ambassador to afghanistan says the taliban leaders are divided with some favoring a dialogue with the afghan government. >> i think this dialogue process, plus the military pressure that we and the afgns have been imposing on them is leading to further divisions. >> crocker told nhk that some taliban members have begun talks with the afghan government to explore the possibility of reconciliation. this comes despite an announcement by taliban leaders last month that they would reject negotiations with the afghan government. he stressed a hard-line faction of the taliban was behind attacks on foreign missions in kabul. crocker noted it is important to continue putting military pressure on the taliban insurgents to try to bring them to the negotiating table.
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policymakers at the u.s. central bank say they'll keep interest rates low until at least late 2014. analysts say other policies will remain unchanged, too. the federal reserve ended a two-day meeting of the open market committee. members released a statement after the meeting. it said household spending and business investment on plants and equipment have continued to increase. the statement said economic growth is expected to remain moderate over the coming quarters, then pick up gradually. but the fed warned that the housing sector remains depressed despite signs of improvement. it noted that the job market has improved slightly. still, the unemployment rate remains high. their statement says strains in global financial markets continue to pose significant downside risks to the economic outlook. and federal reserve chairman ben bernanke sounded a cautious note on the u.s. economic outlook
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after the meeting. he said that it's a little premature to declare victory despite positive signals. >> and we remain prepared to do more as needed to make sure that this recovery continues. those tools remain very much on the table. and we will not hesitate to use them should the economy require that additional support. >> investors had speculated that the fed was not going to take further actions to ease monetary policy. european union officials have decided to resume bailout talks with hungary. the move came after hungarian prime minister vowed to european commission president manuel ba roso that he would make changes. he needs to ease the eu concerns about hungary's central bank. the hungarian government asked for financial support last november from the eu and from the international monetary fund. government leaders said their finances would get worse. the currency dropped in value after getting caught up in the
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european debt crisis. however, eu officials stopped the bailout talks. they decided hungarian proposals to reform the central bank would undermine the bank's independence. the eu official said this could violate eu law. french presidential candidate francois hollande has vowed to push for revision of the eu treaty. he said it should include measures to encourage economic growth while maintaining fiscal discipline. the socialist candidate is the front-runner in france's presidential election. he maintains a ten percentage point lead in a recent poll over the incumbent nicholas sarkoesy. hollande said he would take changes in the pact. it was signed earlier this year and focuses on tightening budgets. he provided detalss with plans, including the issuance of common bonds. government bonds backed by all 17 member nations of the eurozone. he also proposed a financial transaction tax to pay for improvement to social
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infrastructure. >> translator: if i win, i will look to open a friendly dialogue with german chancellor angela merkel on a revision of the eu treaty. >> hollande earlier pledge to renegotiate the treaty stirred up concerns about europe's debt problems. and britain fell into recession in the january to march quarter reflecting the harsh economic climate prevailing across europe. the office for national statistics announced that britain's gross domestic product fell by 0.2% in the first three months compared to the previous quarter. britain has taken a major hit from its trading partners in the eurozone. tunnels across japan are getting quite old and finding structural damage can be a challenge. a firm with sophisticated inspection technology is
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capitalizing on this opportunity, boosting its revenue by 50% over the past five years. >> reporter: a car is traveling through the tunnel at 50 kilometers an hour. showering the wall with strong light, it's using special technology to look for cracks and other damage. the car is equipped with 16 cameras. they can take 30 pictures a minute. the photos are processed with a computer. sharp images of the tunnel walls have emerged. they allow technicians to find cracks that are barely 0.2 millimeters wide. the car was developed by a small company in the city in southwestern japan. with a staff of just over 80, the firm initially specialized in checking tanks and pipes at factories.
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the company president toshihiro sakamoto hit upon the idea of tunnel inspections when he heard about an accident 13 years ago. part of a wall collapsed in a tunnel for high-speed bullet trains in southwestern japan. the debris hit a passing train forcing the service to halt for four hours. sakamoto wondered if there were other aging tunnels that needed close inspection. a survey showed that a majority of over 8,000 road tunnels were at least 30 years old. he sensed a business opportunity. >> translator: i think innovation is all about finding new opportunities. finding a niche for a small company like ours. >> reporter: the vehicle is also equipped with an infrared laser
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device for finding dangerous spots effectively. laser data has been put into this three-dimensional image. it shows distortions in the walls that the cameras can't detect. the part in red color indicates that the tunnel wall is sagging due to the weight of the dirt above. the laser data are laid over the images taken by the cameras. if there are cracks in the red part, the wall could crumble in the near future. this way it's easy to identify the parts of the walls that need detailed inspection or repair. thanks to the new technology, the company was able to shorten the inspection time to just one week per kilometer from one month. it also cut costs by about 30%. this year the company received
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an order from the fukushima prefectural government to inspect its tunnels. the firm checked 45 locations for possible damage by the massive earthquake last march. the inspections revealed no dangerous spots. they confirmed that the tunnels can remain in service. >> translator: we need to find the impact of the quake and keep a record of it as soon as possible. their efficient methods will contribute to rebuilding in the disaster areas. >> reporter: the company is now developing a new inspection car, and it's also working on technology to provide faster services. small firms are now expanding their businesses with new ideas and the latest technologies. people in japan's northeast are focused on overcoming the challenges of the 2011 disaster.
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but it won't be easy. they have to rebuild homes, businesses, entire communities. we'll show you their struggles and their successes on "the road ahead" every wednesday at 1:00 p.m. japan time here on "newsline." a survey of medical workers sent to northeastern japan to deal with the earthquake and tsunami last march shows that the more emotionally shaken they were, the more likely they were to feel post-traumatic stress. japan's national disaster medical center conducted surveys on 173 doctors and nurses who worked in the disaster-stricken areas. for months after the disaster, 6% of the medical workers were already reporting serious psychological ailments that required attention. many said they felt ashamed when they were overwhelmed by emotion during their relief activities and that they almost lost control. the researchers say many medical personnel are bound by a sense of duty and the perception that
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they must remain calm and professional at all times. >> translator: medical staff should understand that emotional stress is natural in difficult situations. and that they should not feel ashamed. >> the survey team says follow-up care and counseling should be offered to relief personnel to help prevent post-traumatic stress disorder. it's been years in the making, and next month, the world's tallest free-standing broadcast tower will open its doors to the public. the tokyo sky tree was built to relay television and radio signals over a broad area. but the structure is also becoming a must-see for tourists and area businesses are coming up with novel ways to get a piece of the action. nhk world's reena nakamo shows us a view of tokyo from the clouds. >> reporter: the tokyo sky tree is over 600 meters tall. that's almost equal to two eiffel towers. it stands head and shoulders
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above a cityscape brift ling with skyscrapers. your ears will definitely be popping on this minute and a half vertical ride. at the end of it, it's 450 meters tall observation deck. here, the public will have access to a never before seen panoramic view of tokyo. they'll see every landmark in the tokyo metropolis. even the tokyo tower, which used to hold the title of tallest, is like a red dot in the distance. these glass floors are on the lower deck. it's 340 meters off the ground, plenty high to give visitors the thrilling sensation of floating in midair. back down on earth, skytree fever is in full swing. the sleek tower provided an ultra modern backdrop this
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spring for traditional cherry blossom viewing. >> translator: i am so glad i got to see this. it invigorates me. >> reporter: peoe try to capture the grandeur of the tower from a variety of angles. >> i can only get half of it. it's impossible, even if i lie down. snapping a photo of yourself at the world's tallest tower is quite a tricky task. in order to fit in the frame you have to have your camera down on the ground. one way to avoid that is to use something like this. these mirrors allow for a perfect photo op with the power's reflection. >> translator: people were lying down on the bridge because they just couldn't get a good shot of the whole thing.
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that's why we decided to put these up. >> reporter: and if climbing up the skytree or taking pictures aren't enough, how about using your taste buds to appreciate it. restaurants have added new menu items inspired by the tower. there's this appetizer, the onion ring tree or a main dish called the skytree curry. and check out this dessert. the tower waffle. >> translator: the shops in this town used to only attract locals. but i hope the area becomes radiant with the new skytree tourists. >> reporter: mom and pop shops have been busy crafting
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eye-catching skytree models for tourists to see. they hope the new structure will boost the local economy. >> translator: the skytree is going to bring a lot of visitors from around the world. i am starting to feel the citizens of our town becoming anxious to welcome these guests. we are all getting pumped. >> reporter: neighborhood officials estimate the tokyo skytree will bring more than $1 million in annual profits. this city has long been known as a tourist hot spot for its traditional architecture. but now with the opening of the tokyo skytree, visitors will be able to experience both the old and the new at once. rina nakano, nhk world, tokyo. and the tokyo skytree opens to the public on may 22nd. but presale tickets for the observation decks are already booked through mid-june.
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it's rang on and off here in tokyo on thursday afternoon. time to check the weather with rachel ferguson. >> hi there. it's going to be raining on and off and into friday. the same goes here in to eastern tohoku. the rest of japan should look much clearer as we head on into friday. the system that's moving across at the moment has been bringing some very strong winds across central and southern japan. gusts exceeding 100 kilometers an hour. the rain, though is not quite as heavy as it was across eastern china when that system was impacting in the last couple of days. now things are looking much clearer here. good spells of sunshine. up to the north, a low coming across from mongolia. it's been bringing snow here. but as it heads into northeastern china, that precipitation will be rain. down toward the southeast, a stalled out front that's going to be keeping those thunderstorms and unstable conditions going. and lots of thunderstorms popping up across indochina as well. it's so hot here. bangkok at about 39 degrees
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forecast high for today. in fact, many cities reporting temperatures exceeding 40 degrees. so there are warnings and watches for summer thunderstorms posted across thailand. we'll head now into north america. somewhere else that is dealing with severe weather today. severe thunderstorms. the midwest in your overnight hours, it is going to be still pretty severe. we've got the potential for large hail as well as tornadoes. and some very strong gusts. however, this is going to be easing off as it heads toward the east. still some heavy rain to come into the mid-atlantic but gusty showers up towards the northeast and into eastern canada. then another area of severe storms will develop from nebraska down into northern texas. you'll be getting a dose of the same. it's very, very hot here through the southeast. and in towards the northern plains. we've got this dome of high pressure allowing all of the heat to come up from the south. and temperatures are about 9 to 10 degrees above average.
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further out towards the west, it's going to be cooler, wet and a bit windy once again. strong gusts up in the mountains as well. and we could see another 15 centimeters of fresh snow on the sierras and the cascades. okay. into europe we go. it's very, very split here. out towards the west, wet, windy and cool. and out towards the east, it's going to be like summer. but let's start here where the action is. we've got a long front stretching across from scandinavia down into portugal. strong thunderstorms along this front. very strong winds indeed. and warnings and watches have been posted into the morning hours for northern spain for high waves and strong winds. we also have warnings for heavy rain across the british isles. now from central locations out towards the east, it's going to be a different story altogether. high pressure again allowing this warmth, this heat to spread up from the south. and temperatures are going to look like the middle of summer. we'll take a look at them now. 21 in berlin. 22 in vienna. the low 20s also in kiev and moscow.
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into the next three days, into the weekend, we're just going to see those figures come up. belgrade, budapest, munich, just about hitting the 30-degree mark. serbia, some places as well seeing about 30 degrees. so that is going to be quite a difference from average departure of about 16 degrees in some places. so do enjoy it, but do please take care in that unseasonable heat. i'll leave you now with your extended forecast.
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and that's all for this edition of "newsline." i'm yuko aotani in tokyo. thank you very much for watching.
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