power play. government leaders in japan wrestle with whether to restart a nuclear plant and how to d dve the country. japanese government leaders are waiting to prove the restart of a nuclear plant in western japan. that could come as early as next week. first they need to win the support of the municipalities around the facility. all 50 reactors across japan are now offline. prime minister yoshihiko noda met with his cabinet officers in charge of the issues. >> translator: we've been strengthening measures to prevent accidents like the one in fukushima.
safety comes first rather than the speed of resuming operations. >> governors and mayors from western japan met to share their views. the nuclear crisis minister told them the government will station a senior official in the area. he also proposed a video link between the plant and the prime minister's office. some local leaders aren't convinced. >> translator: government officials say they have taken most of the safety measures based on current thinking. but this means there are some measures which aren't ready yet. so they can't say it's totally safe. >> others favor a restart. >> translator: we annual -- analyzed whether we could cut electricity. we found it impossible. >> reporter: the government issues a statement saying the government safety standard is a provisional one drawn up before the launch of the regulatory agency. they said the resumption should be limited to a certain time
frame. the governor of fukui prefector and the mayor of the town that host the plant have not clarified their positions yet. they are waiting for guidance from a panel of experts. but many residents say they are worried about their safety. cabinet ministers will await the approval of local leaders. the ministers hope to meet again possibly next week to give the go ahead. researchers say a massive earthquake could strike off a peninsula north of tokyo in an area separate from the one that caused the great konto earthquake of 1923. the geospacial information authority of japan presented its analysis at a meeting of the coordinating committee of earthquake prediction on wednesday. gps data shows the tip of the peninsula has been moving about three centimeters northward each year since 1997. the authority says seismic pressure may be building up in the area where an oceanic
techttonic plate slides under a continental plate. the area has not had a major earthquake for at least 300 years. >> translator: an earthquake in this zone could have a magnitude as high as eight. we'll conduct new surveys and recalculate our assessments. >> the geospatial informational authority plans to look at earthquakes in these areas. people in japan's northeast are focused on overcoming the challenges of the 2011 disaster. it won't be easy. they have to rebuild homes, businesses and entire communities. we'll show you the struggles and successes on "the road ahead" every wednesday at 1:00 p.m. japan time here on "newsline." most members of the u.n. security council are urging additional sanctions against syria for its continued crackdown on civilians.
but they face opposition from russia which has close ties with the government of president bashar al assad. the united nations says the civilian death toll in syria has now topped 10,000. troops supporting assad killed more than a hundred people last week in houla. the bodiesf 13 men were found earlier this week in the eastern town wh their hands tied behind their backs. u.s. and european members of the security council are calling for tougher actions against the assad government. but the russian ambassador remains weary of the western approach. he said dialogue and sanctions will not work at the same time. an nhk crew visiting the capital damascus on wednesday saw many government troops deployed in the central district. government troops routinely accompany the u.n. officials sent to monitor the cease-fire ark parentally to curb their activities. food prices have nearly doubled in the capital with some shops
being forced to close down. u.s. leaders are trying to apply pressure of their own. they want to isolate the assad regime from the global financial system. they've added a syrian bank to their list of those facing sanctions. treasury department officials say the syrian international islamic bank has been acting as a front, they say other financial institutions use it to get around sanctions. the bank is based in damascus. treasure officials say it processed $150 million in transactions last year on behalf of banned institutions. the treasury undersecretary david cohen said the new sanction will add pressure on the assad regime by closing off a key means of evasion. he said officials in qatar have agreed to take similar actions. department officials will host their international counterparts next week. they'll discuss what else they doon to persuade assad.
u.s. president barack obama used a video conference link to speak with european leaders about the debt problems. they agreed they need to work together to limit further damage. obama shared his views with german chancellor angela merkel, french president francois holland d hollande and italy's mario monti. the leaders will meet again next month in los cabos, mexico. the biggest trade insurer has pulled its coverage of shipments to greece because of the uncertainties. the country's heavily dependent on imports. officials said they will not underwrite deliverez for the foreseeable future. analysts with the france-based insurer say they are worried about whether greece will remain in the eurozone. greeks will vote next month in parliamentary elections and many oppose austerity measures
necessary for an eu bailout. the "financial times" is reporting another french trade insurer has also stopped its coverage. japan's industrial production grew in a second month in a row due to strong auto sales. the japanese industry ministry said on thursday industrial output increased 0.2% from march. the growth is due to the increased production of fuel-efficient cars as well as related parts and materials. the government has offered subsidies to buyers of eco-friendly vehicles. the ministry expects industrial output will remain on a recovery tract as production of parts for smartphones and personal computers is expected to rise. auto production has started to slow down in may. looking ahead, the industry ministry expects output to fall 3.2% in may and then rise again in june by 2.4%. ministry officials say they'll keep a close watch.
the government is asking businesses and households to reduce energy consumption as power shortages are expected this summer. a japanese tiremaker has started production in russia. executeives want to tap into the country's promising auto market. yokohama rubber opened its factory in a special economic zone about 450 kilometers south of moscow. the chairman attended the opening ceremony. he said russia is an attractive market with great potential. the factory is capable of producing 1.4 million tires a year for passenger cars. the company sold 3 million tires in russia last year. demand has been rising in tandem with expansion of the auto market. the market is expected to continue growing.
businesses in the united states are racing to stake their claim in space. the company spacex is lding the pack. its engineers sent the first private cargo craft to the station. the dragon docked last friday to deliver food and other supplies. >> this really is, i think, going to be recognized as a significantly historical step forward in space travels. >> the dragon's docking is a major boost for u.s. government leaders. their current policy relies on the private sector to develop spacecraft following the end of nasa's shuttle program. let's tak a look now at how the folks at spacex got to this point and how the companies are positioning themselves in this space race. nhk world's kensuke obara has the story. >> reporter: the dragon spacecraft was developed by a venture firm spacex. the company entered the space business just ten years ago.
now it has a contract with the u.s. space agency nasa to deliver cargo to the iss. spacex first hit the headlines in 2010 when it became the first private company to successfully launch a spacecraft into orbit and then return it safely to earth. the company's next goal is to develop a manned spacecraft. >> we want to keep upgrading the technology and make improvements so that ultimately there can be journeys beyond the space station. >> reporter: what makes spacex so remarkable is the low cost of its operations. the launch cost of this rocket was about $54 million. that is about half of what it costs japan's space agency to launch its h2a rocket.
how does spacex keep its cost down? one factor is the low-tech approach in the falcon 9 booster rocket. the first stage is made up of a cluster of nine rocket engines. the basic technology for those engines was developed over 40 years ago for apollo 11, the spacecraft that put the first man on the moon back in 1969. moreover, the rocket will return to earth using parachutes just like the apollo modules, instead of landing on a runway like the space shuttle. >> what we try to do here is not just use the best technology or the newest technology. we try to use the right technology. >> reporter: spacex is not the only venture that is making inroads into the space business
using old technology. one company is recycling passenger jumbo jets that have recently been decommissioned. >> maybe some of the actual windows themselves. it would be nice. they are a pretty valuable item and well engineered. >> reporter: stratolaunch systems is developing a plane with a wing span of over 110 meters. the plan is for the plane to carry a rocket into the upper atmosphere and launch it into orbit from there. the plane's engines and landing gear will be recycled from passenger jets. this approach is expected to reduce development costs significantly. >> we're looking at bringing in innovative solution to air launch of a large payload. >> reporter: other companies are focusing on manned space flight.
at xcor's small factory, a spacecraft is being developed that will carry fare-paying passengers. the cost of tickets into space will be about $95,000. some would-be space tourists have already bought tickets. the company is trying to cut down on costs by using parts developed for tomobiles. >> i think the day will come when anybody who has the means to afford something like a luxury car, who has wanted to go to space, will be able to do it. >> reporter: the development of commercial space ships to fly cargo and eventually people, is revolutionizing space exploration. kensuke obara, nhk world, hawthorne, california. >> the dragon capsule will parachute into the pacific ocean later on thursday. between now and 2015, spacex is
planning to launch the dragon spacecraft a total of 12 times to deliver food and other supplies. and after that, its goal will be manned space flights. south korean police have arrested two men in a case involving spies. military technology and electronic jamming. they saw the men interfered with global positioning systems disrupting air and sea traffic. police say the two south korean businessmen came to their attention last july. they say the men are traitors and that north korean spies were giving them their orders. the police learned that the suspects contacted people in the south korean military industry. investigators say the men tried to collect data on military technology and jamming devices. police charged them with violating the national security law. the gps jamming disrupted hundreds of commercial airplane and ships for more than two weeks. now supporters of former thai prime minister thaksin shin
watt are becoming more vocal in his demand he return to domestic politics. this is raising fears of renewed violence in the country. a group of thaksin's redshirt supporters rallied in bangkok on wednesday. they were celebrating the end of a ban on members of his thai party set to expire at midnight. the 111 party leaders are banned from politics five years ago following allegations of election fraud. thaksin has been living in self-imposed exile after being sentenced in absentia for corruption. he spoke to his supporters via videophone. >> translator: if i return to thailand, i will work with you and put all my efforts into progress of the country's society and economy. >> elsewhere in the capital on wednesday, thousands of thaksin's yellow shirt opponents also rallied. they were protesting a plan by thaksin supporters to legally nullify the corruption verdict.
thaksin's sister is the country's primin in ster. there are growing concerns that any attempt by her administration to bring thaksin back may spark renewed violence between the opposing groups. a decade of fighting has left many young people in afghanistan unable to see a bright future for their country. but they are finding solace in the new experience of rock music. nhk world's hideki yui has the story. ♪ >> reporter: a recent rock festival in afghanistan drew crowds of young people who are thrilled by the performances on stage. it's a new experience for them as all music was banned under the former regime. >> translator: because of conflicts in the taliban, we haven't had a chance to enjoy live music for years.
♪ >> reporter: the group is now busy composing songs for their upcoming album. music provides them with an outlet for their rage against war. this song was inspired by a fatal blast in 2008. u.s.-led coalition forces mistakenly bombed a wedding hall killing the bride and groom. ♪ >> i wrote a song about that because not to say we hate you because you bombed these people,
but let's write something that represents that we're tired of this. >> reporter: more than ten years after the taliban regime ended, shopping malls and fast food stores are popping up in the capital city of kabul. people are also enjoying the return of music. but the new popularity of music is drawing sharp reactions from taliban remnants. the shops have been attacked in areas where the taliban are still active. in the eastern city of jalalabad, all the cd shops have been forced to close. musicians themselves are also faced with threats. this footage from three years ago shows the members of district unknown. they hid their faces behind white masks after becoming
victims of harassment and threats from people opposed to rock music. but the group decided to go on stage without their faces covered at the country's first ever rock festival. >> translator: even at the risk of losing our lives, we perform with our faces unhidden. we wanted to share our rock music with the whole world. >> reporter: in afghanistan, with its limited job market for young people, music is becoming a valuable part of job training. this is afghanistan's first music school which opened two years ago. of the 150 students who study here for free, some are children who lost parents in the war.
♪ this is one of the school's best violinists. but once class is over, he devotes himself to rock. >> translator: i like rock music because it allows me to honestly express my feelings. >> reporter: there was something that first drew hameed to rock music. it was the death of his brother. following the soviet invasion in 1979, afghanistan's medical system collapsed. when his brother became ill, he was unable to get treatment. he died six years before hameed was born. his latest song is about rage
against war. ♪ >> i wrote this song because i wanted to explain to peopl what happened during the war in afghanistan. >> reporter: all the young musicians in afghanistan face strong, even violent opposition. music has provided them with a voice. now that they have that voice, they are not likely to give it up again. hideki yui, nhk world, kabul. all right. let's move on to weather now with rachel ferguson. >> it's been cloudy across much of central japan.
tomorrow, though, there's going to be the potential once again for pop-up thunderstorms. seeing some cold air move in aloft. and that's when we can get those sudden showers and storms. there's not just central japan. also the beijing area and also western mongolia out towards the north seeing areas of cold air aloft, moving in and so there will be the potential for those pop-up storms. however, more persistent rain is occurring down towards the south. a front moving across taiwan into the southwestern japanese islands. so heavy rain here. also a low just sitting east of the philippines. you can barely see the philippines underneath all of that rain. i promise you it's there. this low is really helping to enhance all of the moisture coming in across the country so you'll be seeing heavy downpours into the weekend. and there's even potential to see this tropical low develop. we'll be keeping an eye on it. heavy rain for southwestern china. another low moving in here. lots of moisture across the bay of bengal.
and that will bring you showers maybe even as much as 100 millimeters of rain in the 24-hour period. we're going to head now into north mech and talk about what's happening in the pacific northwest. there's a system coming in. coastal bc and also washington state, oregon, you'll be affected by this system. strong winds up to about 72 kilometers an hour. and you are get something wet weather with that as well. the rest of the west is going to be staying dry under high pressure, though extreme heat will be building in the desert southwest once again. now we have run into severe thunderstorms. now these are going to be focusing on kansas down through oklahoma into northern texas on your overnight wednesday into thursday. and then the system will move up towards the northeast. so we're also seeing -- we're still seeing wet weather in the south. east here, that tropical storm then a tropical depression beryl has already brought a soaking to the southeast. more showers here. however, the system is moving out towards the east fairly
quickly away from the united states now. all right. we're keeping the heat in houston as well as miami. atlanta, too. all in the low 30s. d.c. and new york city seeing a hot day at 28 and 27 respectively. but cooling down in the upper midwest. chicago, just 11 degrees for you. okay. let's head on into europe and we're going to see thunderstorms moving across the british isles today. also a large low coming down from scandinavia. this one is going to be producing snow in upper portions of the scandinavian peninsula and then as it descends into central europe, widespread rain and thunderstorms. a separate system down in the southeast will keep things very unstable across the balkans into turkey and upper black sea region as well. pop-up thunderstorms here. however it is going to be nice and hot, nice and hot. maybe not so nice for some of you. hot and dry in the southwest. madrid and lisbon seeing temperatures in the mid-30s there. the rest of the continent, though, will see a continuing cooldown. 19 degrees in london on
and our main story once again -- most members of the u.n. security council are urging additional sanctions against syria for its continued crackdown on civilians. but they face opposition from russia which has close ties with the government of president bashar al assad. the united nations say the civilian death toll in syria has now topped 10,000.
troops supporting assad killed more than 100 people last week in the town of houla. nearly half the victims were children. bodies of 13 men were found earlier this week in the eastern town with their hands tied behind their backs. u.s. and european members of the security council are calling for tougher actions against the assad government. but the russian ambassador remains weary of the western approach. he said dialogue and sanctions will not work at the same time. an nhk visiting the capital city damascus on wednesday saw many government troops deployed in the central district on the alert for anti-government forces. government troops routinely accompany the u.n. officials sent to monitor the cease-fire apparently to curb their activities. food prices have nearly doubled in the capital with some shops being forced to close down. and that's all for now on this edition of "newsline." i'm yuko aotani in tokyo. thanks very much for watching.