welcome to nhk world "newsline." family and friends of a group of hostages being held captive in algeria are anxiously waiting for word their loved ones are safe. islamist militants kidnapped the group on wednesday at a natural gas plant in the desert. little was known about what's happening at the facility but al jazeera aired an interview with some of the hostages including a japanese man who says he was injured when all jeeran security forces fired on the militants.
at least three japanese are being held at the remote plant 1,000 kilometers from the nation's capitol. >> i was shot. my condition is not so bad. >> he and the other hostages were apparently speaking under the close watch of their captors. a man said to be the kidnappers' leader said they will kill the hostages unless the security forces stop firing. the militant group attacked the facility operated by the british burm bp and others in eastern algeria on friday. jjc corporation says at least three of its 17 japanese employees at the plant are among those being held. the militants are demanding that france end its military operations in mali. the french government has yet to issue an official response. the algerian government will not
negotiate with the hostage takers. investigators looking into the emergency landing of a 787 dreamliner found evidence smoke did appear inside the aircraft. officials weren't immediately able to confirm that on wednesday after the boeing plane landed. the incident prompted japanese and american aviation authorities to order airlines to ground all 787s in operation. a team from japan's transport safety board tried to figure out why cockpit instruments indicated the presence of smoke on the knee pon airways 787. flight controllers at the airport also reported smoke coming from the plane but ana officials said the crew didn't see anything. however, a passenger took a photo after the plane was evacuated. the image shows an outlet in the storage space near the plane's front wheels, smoke appears to be there. investigators have found soot on two exhaust outlets, which they say likely came from smoke. one outlet is designed to
operate if smoke is detected if compartments where batteries are installed. the other is used to control air pressure in the passenger cabin. inspectors removed a battery from an electrical equipment bay beneath the cockpit. an earlier check found bulges in the battery container and dark traces of liquid that had seened out. the deep suspects overheating caused electrolite to leak from the battery. inspectors say it is 5 kilograms lighter than it is supposed to be. gsyuasa that supplies the batteries for the dreamliner say the electrolite can ignite if it overheats. boeing selected the batteries to increase fuel efficiency. the crew uses them to start the plane's engines. the batteries are designed to vent excess heat, but the spokespersons say there's a possibility they can overheat if
exposed to electric currents beyond their design specifications. united airlines, air indian and a chilean airway ground their 787 fleets. the u.s. and japan are conducting investigations. boeing's spokespersons are committed to finding answers as quickly as possible. they say they have so far received orders for 848 dreamliners from more than 50 airlines worldwide. the last japanese leadership focused on cutting wasteful spending but abe's administration wants to put the focus on growth and spend where necessary. ron madison is here with more on that. ron? >> yeah, the budget certainly has taken center stage with prime abe taking office three weeks ago. now a japanese government panel has drafted a guide line for compiling next year's budget. it states that national bond issue wants should be kept to a min ma'am. no cap was given, though. according to a draft obtained by
nhk, members of the council of economic and fiscal policy call for a budget that would significantly intensify reconstruction efforts from the march 2011 disaster. it says the budget process should shift from a mere distribution of a reduced budget to creating a cycle of growth and wealth. it also says the goal is to overcome the negative impact of the strong yen and deflation and to create a strong economy with growth and jobs and income. now, on the other hand, the council states the government needs to achieve the primary balance by reducing the deficit to half by the fiscal year of 2015, but the draft did fall short of setting a specific limit on the issuance of government bonds to finance the budget as the previous administration turned democratic party did. it only urges the government to keep bond issues to a minimum. well, executives at struggling chipmaker electronic says they need to slash the workforce further. they are planning a 10% staff
cut through a voluntary retirement program. renesas is one of the largest suppliers of microcontroller chips. the managers told the company's labor union they will offer early retirement to about 3,000 employees aged 40 and older. the plan is part of restructuring efforts put in place after the company reached a deal on a rescue package with investors. the deal will allow renesas to receive $2.3 billion from the state-backed fund as well as several business partners. the chipmaker cut early retire, that was back in october. japan's nissan motor will slash domestic prices on its electric cars and that's in an effort to boost sluggish sales of the eco-friendly vehicles. nissan says it will lower prices on all three of its electric models by $3,160 starting in april. that will make the cheapest model $25,000 and that's also with the government subsidy for
buyers of eco-friendly cars. the automaker hopes that the price reduction together with the release of a cheaper model last november will help to spur demand for electric vehicles. nissan marketed its first electric cars back in 2010. the firm has been promoting them as the automobile of the next generation. since then cumulative sales have stayed sluggish at a mere 21,000 units due to the relatively high price and also limited range for each battery charge. all right. let's get a check of the markets now. asian stock prices pretty much lower today as investors remain cautious ahead of the release of china's fourth quarter gdp due out on friday. as you can see, there are both the shanghai and hong kong markets were down. japan's nikkei average managing a gain of .10%. let's check out europe now where stocks are actively trading. we've got a mixed picture there. investors also are refraining from active training ahead of
earnings results from major u.s. companies. ftse 100 lower by .20%. frankfurt dax is losing .25%. gapes for paris cac40 up by .50%. dollar and euro gaping further ground against the yen. the dollar/yen at 89.29. euro/yen at 119.28. traders are stepping up yen selling after japan's prime minister reaffirmed his resolve to set an inflation target of 2%. well, business leaders from japan, china and south korea gathered in seoul has the three nations are about to start negotiations for a free trade deal. the meeting on thursday was organized by a seoul based secretary yacht that enhanced cooperation. several government officials and business people attended. >> translator: closer business ties will have a positive impact
on the three nations politics and diplomatic relations. >> translator: we hope the business people gathered here will become the cornerstone for goodwill among the three nations through their strong friendship. >> jan japan, china and south korea declared last november they will begin talks for a free trade agreement working level negotiations are expected to start in the first half of this year. this participants echoed the view and voiced the importance of private sector corporation for better diplomatic relations. all right. that's going to do it for biz tonight. let's get you another check now of the markets.
government officials in japan have spent a lot of time and money trying to bring down the country's suicide rate. they are now seeing some results. the number of people who killed themselves in 2012 fell below 30,000 for the first time in 15 years. national police agencies spokespersons say 27,766 people committed suicide last year, that's down more than 2,800 from the previous year or 9.4%. annual suicides had exceeded 30,000 since 1998. they peaked at the more than 34,000 in 2003. of last year's total more than 19,000 were men and about 8,500
were women. 18% were in their 60s, the highest of any age bracket. people in their 40s and 50s each account for 17%. 14% per in their 30s. national police agency representatives say suicides were because of health problems. other reasons included financial or family troubles. japanese leaders consider suicide a major social issue and they have implemented many prevention measures over the years. still the number of suicides kept rising, so last year officials started putting greater emphasis on community-based efforts that reflect different social economic circumstances. they also prioritized strengthening suicide prevention programs for young people and for individuals who had tried to kill themselves in the past. >> translator: the largest contributing factor to the fall in the number of people taking their lives is progress in endorsing anti-suicide measures in municipalities, but i caution against complacency and urge speedier implementation of measures to address the reality.
european air space engineers will join a u.s. project to develop a spacecraft designed for manned missions to destinations beyond the moon. nasa and the european space agency announced the plan at the johnson space center in texas. the esa will participate in developing the rocket system for nasa's orion spacecraft. engineers plan to first launch an unmanned prototype on a fly-by of the moon in 2017. they will then work on enhancing the technology for a longer distance mission. u.s. president barack obama announced a plan for a manned mission to mars by the 2030s. nasa and the european space agency have suggested the possibility of cooperating in that project as well. people in the united arab emirates are worrying about the future of their most lucrative export, the uae is one of the world's leading oil producers, but leaders are seeing a
shortage on the horizon. the strain on the supply is growing so now this fossil fuel-driven nation is considering alternatives. nhk world's sho bepu has more from the capital, abu dabe. >> reporter: an exhibition is underway focusing on water supplies and renewable energy. the crown prince of the united arab emirates tells the participants that his country realizes that its most valuable natural resource has a limit. >> translator: the united air rak emirates has been providing the world with energy for half a century. we'll continue our efforts to provide a stable supply. it's our responsibility as a member of the international
community. >> reporter: what prompted the concern is an impending sense of crisis. the gulf nation could lose its status as one of the world's leading oil producers. in 2011 the uae was summoned in terms of oil production, but energy demands in the nation are mounting in the face of rapid urbanization and a growing population. one of the most pressing issues is to secure enough electricity to convert sea water into fresh water. the desert country gets much of its water from the sea but surging water consumption now has the uae using 70% of its electricity to sea water. without effective measures, the uae would have to spend more oil
and gas and domestic power generation, which would deprive it of its major export. that's why the government wants to expand the use of renewable energy resources. the exhibition has shown that foreign participants are in agreement and see a business opportunity. the need for clean energy future for the gulf countries is no longer in question. companies from around the world seek their place in this growing market. more than 650 exhibitors are here to explore, trade and invest in opportunities. a swiss company is showcasing a robot for cleaning solar panels. it can be operated by remote control. the price tag starts at about
$100,000. >> all the challenges in today's i staylation is that our time, dirt covers the surface, especially in this area, it's a sandy area, so regular cleaning is required to insure a operative time. >> reporter: more than 30 firms are taking part from japan, one of the largest oil importers from the uae. a senior official says japan has a lot of expertise in renewable energies. >> translator: japan has advanced technology which should be put to good use. there are also business opportunities, not only the private sector but also the government has to be involved by strengthening ties with the uae. >> reporter: another leading oil producer, saudi arabia, is facing a similar situation. a u.s. financial group last year released a report which says
that the gulf nation could become an oil importing country by 2030. the energy situation in the gulf region is rapidly changing despite the apparent prosperity on the surface. sho beppu, nhk world. this here marks the 60th anniversary of the end of the korean war. the korean peninsula has been divided ever since and it has been difficult for most separated families to be in touch, but officials in the south have begun programs for those people to communicate through video letters. nhk world's anna jung reports. >> reporter: here a video letter is being taped to be sent to relatives in north korea. the families have been separated for about 60 years.
this 92-year-old is originally from the north. 66 years ago she arrived in pusan with her husband. he had a job in the solvent city. soon after the move the korean peninsula was divided. she became separated from her sister. they have not seen each other since. >> translator: i dearly want to meet you, my younger sister. i can't forget the memory of you crying and screaming because we would be apart. i pray that north/south relations improve and that we can meet again as soon as possible. >> reporter: seong is cared for by her four children in seoul. realizing her remaining days are numbered, she recorded the video. seong was anxious to let her
sister know just how badly she wants to see her, even for just one moment. >> translator: i want to meet her so badly. if it's possible, i would run to her. >> reporter: since 2000 south korea's government has worked on a program to let separated families meet either in person or through video conference calls. around 128,000 south koreans are registered as being separated from family members because of the divided peninsula. but only about 1,800 reunions have take up place. in 2008 video letters were exchanged on a test basis by 40 separated families, but the project was halted when north/south relations worsened. no target date has been sent for more video letter exchanges.
with people getting older, officials and their korean counter parts decided to make the videos. >> translator: most of the separated family members are aging and each year 3,000 to 4,000 pass away. we want to send these to the north as soon as it becomes possible. >> reporter: the plan to produce videos for 5,000 people this year. >> translator: let's hope good days are ahead. hope you're well. i'm doing well. and keep your spirits up. >> reporter: seong is hopeful she'll be in touch with her sister again, even though there's not much time. >> translator: we would both be so happy if we could meet again. i want to help her. i hope that we can at least hear each other's voice.
>> reporter: incoming president has privileged to help separated families meet up on a regular basis. whether their hopes will be realized is now up to the new government. anna jung, nhk world, seoul. a people tested by politics and history. nine say or thes whose technology is spread around the world. artists who capture the imaginations of audiences everywhere. these are the faces of south korea. nhk world updates you on what's happening across the peninsula wednesday and thursday here on "newsline." meteorologist robert speta is here to tell us who will be affected by the latest cold snap in eastern asia. robert? >> well, gene, it's exactly that happening across much of eastern asia. it's a cold snap, which means it is getting really cold really quickly.
we have the siberian high coming out of russia here, and it is not just affecting eastern china but much of the region, even out there towards japan. we are seeing the snow showers push across here. the sea of japan creating the sea effect. 20 to 40 centimeters expected here throughout the next 24 hours. but also some very gusty winds transporting that air towards the south. actually, i want to show you a clear indication of how strong this wind is that's coming in out of the north here bringing all that cold air. this is what we call an onvortices. this spins up kind of like a paddle through water. you can see all the swirls. what that is telling us is there are strong winds and now it is continuing to push as far south as okinawa here and already winds kicking up in okinawa upwards of 40 to 50 kilometers an hour. sometimes going throughout the next 24 hours you could be seeing sustained winds nearing 70 kilometers per hour. plus the temperatures continuing
to plummet as far south as the philippinesful you'll be seeing overnight lows into the teens and in some areas we are getting down to the single digits. farther south than that, still remaining rather tropical to the southern philippines and as far south as indonesia. you are still seeing that very moist monsoonal flow. actually, in jakarta a very significant and serious flooding there. unfortunately, it does look like the monsoonal flow remains in place, but specifically for jakarta it should lighten up. but you still have afternoon storms continuing to blow up here. temperatures remaining in the 30s for the high in bangkok and manila. overnight lows cooler than that. seoul here at zero for friday. let's take a look at the meshes. the big feature is this storm system now moving off to the east from the southeast. that has been lingering here for some time already bringing heavy snowfall, actually seeing in portions of mississippi several centimeters of accumulation. now farther north into the appalachians you're seeing upwards of 20 to 40 centimeters expected into the next 24 hours
as that system just continues to push overhead. now the good news is that it's going to start to rush off there towards the east going through your friday and clearing completely out by saturday, but unfortunately cold air is going to start to seen in behind that bringing down your temperatures to atlanta. you'll be seeing below freezing temperatures. meanwhile, out to the northwest, more snow into b.c. but also some stagnant air near vancouver down there towards seattle. this is going to be creating dangerous conditions for anybody with respiratory issues as temperatures remain in the single digits. here to europe, the british isles, you're seeing clear skies for now, but into friday, specifically friday morning, some snow showers are going to kick up because of this system coming in from the west. that's bringing all sorts of moist air, but also we have this cold air that's been lingering out there toward the northeast. once these two collide you're going to be seeing heavy snowfall, 10 to 15 centimeters. 25 centimeters into the hills. also accompanied by gusty winds. could be seeing blizzard conditions here throughout your day on your friday. also seeing some unstable
we have breaking news on the hostage crisis in algeria. the country's andahar television is reporting 15 foreign captives escaped from islamist militants. and it says 40 algerians were freed. the militantes kidnapped the group on wednesday at a natural gas plant in the desert. the facility is 1,000 kilometers from the nation's capital of al jeers. three japanese were among the captives working for the firm jjc corporation. the militants have been demanding france end its military operations in neighboring mali. they also threatened to kill their captives. once again, we have breaking news now on the hostage crisis in algeria, the andahar
television is reporting 15 foreign captives escaped from islamist militants and it says 40 algerians were freed. the militants kidnapped the group on wednesday at a national gas plant in the desert. the facility is 1,000 kilometers from the capital. at least three japan citizens work for jjc corporation. they demand that france end its militant operations in neighboring mali and they also threaten to kill their captives. we are gathering for information on this situation. i'm gene otani from nhk world. thank you very much for joining us. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com