Sympathy and Assistance for Those Affected by Tohoku Earthquake

 I would like to express my sympathy for those affected by the Tohoku-Kanto Earthquake. At this time of difficulty for our nation, the Japanese people must help and support each other. We will be engaged in the relevant support activities together with our prefectural residents. We have launched a series of physical support measures by mobilizing our prefectural disaster prevention helicopter and dispatching emergency fire fighting assistance squads, as well as provision of aid supplies. We will swiftly implement the response measures as needed by the people affected.

Task Force for Assistance Related to Tohoku-Pacific Coast Earthquake Disaster

 Within our prefectural administration, we have decided to urgently establish a task force for assistance related to the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake Disaster. We will set up a task force aimed at supporting other prefectures for the first time. With our Head Administrator in charge, we will proceed with the countermeasures in cooperation with other prefectural divisions and sections as well as the municipalities.

Acceptance of Relief Goods from Private Sector

 Although a severe shortage of commodities is occurring in the afflicted areas, we haven’t received any pertinent information from the national government or national organizations. On the other hand, strong desires to help people in the disaster sites have been expressed by our prefectural residents. So, without waiting for Tokyo to put requests to us, we have decided to accept relief goods which the private sector will offer from tomorrow afternoon. The reception counters will be set up in the Eastern, Central, and Western Tottori Regional Offices, and we are now asking the municipalities for relevant cooperation. In order to avoid causing confusion in the devastated areas, however, we are planning to limit the relief items to such goods as blankets, disposable diapers, menstrual sanitary products, pot noodles and the like. In addition, we will actively disburse the discretionary reserve of the prefectural budget, amounting to about 60 million yen, for transportation and so on.

Provision of Shelter for Earthquake Victims

 We are seeking the possibility to accept and accommodate afflicted people in public housing, prefectural staff housing, or similar accommodations in our prefecture. On top of that, we are planning to set up help lines for those who are thinking of evacuating temporarily or moving to Tottori Prefecture. We are envisioning creation of general consultation service counters aimed at the disaster victims on such issues as admission procedures into schools or a concrete system to usher the victims into medical institutions and the like.  Including the prefectural housing, the prefectural staff housing, the public housing managed by municipalities, the employment development housing owned by the Employment Promotion Corporation (currently existing as the Employment and Human Resources Development Organization of Japan), there are about 1,400 houses available in Tottori Prefecture. More than 100 houses of the prefectural and prefectural staff housings, managed by the prefecture, will be made available free of charge.

Financial Aid for Smaller Businesses in Tottori Prefecture

 The Tohoku and Kanto Regions, which have been hit by the recent earthquake, are extremely huge centers of production and distribution, and the economic impacts can be felt in Tottori Prefecture now. In addition, stock prices are falling and the yen is sharply rising. The falling stock prices mean falling asset prices, and the soaring yen will have negative effects on export industries, which are the key business sectors of our prefecture. Adding the deterioration of the national economy as a whole, triple difficulties are surrounding us. In response, the Tottori prefectural administration is planning to create urgent loans as early as next week as our independent measure. If the national government establishes their loan system in the future, we will make the most of it in providing loan services.

Immediate Schedule

 On Saturday, the second squad of public health nurses and a team of psychiatric care providers have been arranged for dispatch for the victims. From tomorrow afternoon, we will start to accept relief goods provided by the private sector.  Moreover, as for the immediate schedule, the establishment of certified "Kodomo-en (a preschool facility aimed at supporting child-rearing and certified by prefectural governors) is expected to be approved today, and we are planning to set up consultation counters for the businesses which are having difficulty in financing at the end of a fiscal year.

Looking Back on 4 Years of Prefectural Administration

 I have been entrusted with the administration of Tottori Prefecture for 4 years, which I’m grateful for. Remembering various difficulties as exemplified by Lehman’s fall, suspension of the Yonago-Seoul flight services, heavy snowfall damages and the Tohoku-Kanto Earthquake, I feel that I’ve been constantly on the move during the days.  Even so, I believe I was able to plant seeds for our future in my own way. The exchange with foreign countries and the construction of expressways have progressed to a great degree, and we could implement such unique measures of ours as support campaigns for the disabled or the watch-over activities in hilly and mountainous areas, which are Tottori Prefecture’s independent measures, and the establishment of the prefectural Hello Work (the job-placement office in Japan).  On the other hand, there are a lot of issues which are still far from satisfactorily resolved, such as the economy and employment in the prefecture. That’s why I have made up my mind to run in the next gubernatorial election.

Q. Regarding the said task force for assistance related to the recent earthquake disaster in Tohoku and the Pacific Ocean, is it unusual to set up a task force aimed at “assistance?”

 I think it’s unusual to organize a task force aimed at helping other prefectures. In this case, however, it’s necessary to respond to the disaster and provide support at the same time on a concrete basis, so we have decided to form an organizational structure and set up a task force.

Q. In order to offer monetary donation to the afflicted areas, some local autonomies plan to compile a supplementary budget. Does Tottori Prefecture intend to provide any monetary support?

 We are planning to implement our reserve fund and offer 3 million yen to Fukushima, Miyagi, and Iwate Prefectures, respectively, as relief funds for the disaster. In addition, we will disburse the reserve fund flexibly and support relief activities, such as the expenses for buses used to carry volunteers and the like.

Q. Concerning the period of nationwide local elections, some say that they should be postponed uniformly throughout Japan. What’s your take on it?

 The election period is stipulated in and set on the basis of such laws as the Public Offices Election Act. In accordance with the decisions of the national government, I should and will deal with this issue calmly. However, I will consider and respond to various situations, I will not appoint an acting representative person during the election period, I will go back to work whenever it’s urgently needed, and I will do what I can so that the support for the residents, or those in the afflicted areas, will not be hampered.

Q. Hardware stores and the like in Tottori prefecture seem to be running out of commodities. Have you taken this into account? And will you give a message to the prefectural residents in terms of cornering and speculative stocking?

 As a result of our surveys on distribution of goods among the stores in our prefecture, it’s been confirmed that some items are running out. The number of consumable goods is limited all across Japan, including the evacuation sites. I ask every citizen to act calmly. Don’t be swayed by the information so as to stock up on goods in an unnecessarily urgent and hasty manner. It will help the victims in indirect terms.

Q. Regarding the Union of Kansai Governments, Tottori Prefecture is participating in the fields of tourism and medicine only, at present. Does the prefecture plan to participate in the field of disaster prevention in the future?

 In consideration of the need to take part in the disaster prevention drills conducted in the Kinki Region, for example, it might not be viable to participate in certain aspects of the field of disaster prevention. With regard to the assistance system for the victims of the recent earthquake, however, Tottori prefecture joins and attends the Committee of the Union of Kansai Governments in order to be involved in the system.