Looking Back on This Year

 This year, Gainare Tottori has won the Japan Football League championship, the San’in Coast Geopark has been registered into the Global Geopark Network, and Tottori Prefecture has been nominated as the venue to host the International Manga Summit. Although we have seen this series of such good results, the economic and industrial situation still remains severe. Problems remain to be tackled as well.

National Budget Compilation for Next Fiscal Year

 Today the Cabinet is expected to approve the national initial budget for fiscal 2011. The media reports that the budget will reach 92.41 trillion yen, which is about the same amount as the one for last fiscal year.  With regard to local government finance, although the local allocation tax will increase over last fiscal year, the amount of bond issuance for our general finances is reduced, so the balanced amount will be a minus figure. Based on the expectation that the tax revenues should increase, however, Tokyo estimates that about the same amount of general finances as last fiscal year will be secured.  In line with compilation of local government finance measures, the measure of the lump-sum grants is also being finalized. Its content is far from satisfactory, though. It seems to me more like subsidies with strings attached than grants. The internal affairs minister explained that the concept will be improved in future, but I’m concerned that it might end up being a castle in the air unless it can be set up in such a way as to give more discretionary power to local governments.  I’m disappointed that the decisions regarding the transfer of control of the national government’s local agencies such as Polytechnic Centers have been postponed. The members of the National Governors' Association were expecting that some adjustments would be conducted toward the yearend, so they were frankly expressing a bit of disappointment in turn.  At any rate, we will precisely analyze the national budget and reflect it in our prefectural budget compilation which will start in the beginning of the new year.

Measures against Highly-Pathogenic Bird Flu

 Today I’m planning to convoke the meeting of the biosecurity task force to counter the highly-pathogenic bird influenza. On December 21, all the poultry-related inspections have been completed to confirm that Tottori Prefecture is free from any problem. We agreed with Shimane Prefecture on the policy to jointly work toward lifting of the transfer restriction on poultry. We have conveyed this policy to the Agriculture Ministry. As soon as we obtain their reply, we will make relevant decisions toward lifting the transfer restriction. Unless some problem occurs afterwards, we will announce the end of the epidemic as of midnight on December 27.  However, we will maintain our monitoring system for wild birds. While surely conducting the containment measures, we will try and swiftly lift the ban on movement on poultry in iorder to eliminate the negative effects on households and the industry.

National Rich Sea Creation Festival

 Next year, Tottori Prefecture will host the 31st National Rich Sea Creation Festival. It’s been decided that it will open on Sunday, October 30. As before, a series of ceremonies including reception or exhibitions of calligraphy and pictures will probably be held around the opening day. With the cooperation of prefectural residents and fishery operators, we will proudly promote the Food Capital Tottori Prefecture and work toward achieving the major goal of revitalizing the fishing industry.  In addition, for the purpose of promoting fish-eating culture and deepening our knowledge of fish, the 2nd “TOTOKEN (Japan Certification Examination on Fish: as tentatively translated)” will be held in Tottori Prefecture in the next fiscal year. TOTOKEN was established by Nippon Sakana Kentei Kyokai (Japan Fish Certification Association) this fiscal year and is usually held in Tokyo and Osaka, but next year, the examination will be held in three venues, one of which is Tottori. “TOTOKEN” sounds similar to “Tottori-ken (Tottori Prefecture)” so we will name this event in our prefecture “TOTOKEN in Tottori-ken” and proceed with preparation for the examination by recruiting examinees and the like.

Business Establishment of Dueller in Sakaiminato City

 Dueller, a corporation based in Kyoto and engaged in production of backlight components for liquid crystal televisions and the like, has decided to set up their new plant in Sakaiminato City (in western Tottori Prefecture). Amid the increasing importance of international division of labor with Asian countries, our policies toward the Japan Sea Rim Era have coincided with their interests, which was one of the key factors in encouraging them to establish their business in our prefecture. I feel glad about it.

Production Hike of GOPAN by SANYO Consumer Electronics Co., Ltd

 Some arrangements seem to be going on in order to add Tottori as a new production base for SANYO Consumer Electronics’ new product “GOPAN (a rice cooker capable of baking bread). We will further support their business expansion in our prefecture and request that they will maintain employment here.

Opening of General Consultation Counters during Yearend

 On December 29 and 30, we are scheduled to open one-stop consultation counters in our main prefectural office building and Central and Western Tottori Regional Offices in collaboration with Hello Work (Japan’s job-placement office) to deal with all the relevant issues, such as employment counseling, job placement, funding system for businesses, loans for assistance of household livelihoods, and public housing. Since the situation still remains austere, I strongly hope that these consultation counters will be utilized by people in need.

Q. Regarding the National Rich Sea Creation Festival, am I right in understanding that the main events such as fish releasing will be held on October 30?

 That’s right. The fish releasing is planned to be conducted on October 30 at the facilities of Tottori Prefecture fisheries cooperative association in the Karo area (in Tottori City) after the commemorative ceremony is held in Torigin Bunka Kaikan (Torigin Culture Hall)

Q. Regarding measures against highly-pathogenic bird flu, are you planning to issue the declaration of safety in today’s meeting?

 In fact, Tottori Prefecture was confirmed free from contamination at an early stage. In today’s meeting, we will decide on whether or not to lift the movement restriction on poultry.

Q. Will you inform the poultry operators of the said lifting of the ban today?

 We will do so, with the condition that reinstatement of the ban is inevitable in the event that a new case or cases (of contamination) are reported on or before midnight on December 27. In consideration of the preparation that poultry operators will need to make toward lifting of the movement restriction, such as disposal of the dead chickens, we will inform them of the decision in advance.

Q. Concerning the national budget compilation for next fiscal year, your side’s clear gain of the local allocation tax will increase compared with last year. What do you think of it?

 While the local tax allocation increases, the bonds for the extraordinary financial measures will sharply decrease. So it’s probably unlikely that the increase will fully be reflected in the amount of the general finances. Under the current circumstance, each local government will need to apply the budget plan to its own situation and calculate the gains and losses in order to get a clear picture, I assume. Regarding this issue, we will make a concrete estimation in the beginning of the new year.

Q. Foot-and-mouth disease is spreading in South Korea. Is Tottori Prefecture planning any support measures for them?

 We are not planning any, as of now. In order to prevent the contamination in our prefecture, however, we have begun disinfecting such places as Yonago Kitaro Airport and the international ferry terminal for regular ship services in Sakai Port (in Sakaiminato City). It’s a matter of course that we should help each other when we are in trouble, so we are ready and willing to communicate with the Korean side about possible support measures.

Q. Regarding the future measures utilizing the San’in Coast Geopark, do you expect any concrete development in the next fiscal year?

 It’s necessary to boost the presence of the “Geopark” itself in Japan. In that sense, with the focus on the registered sites of the Global Geopark Network, we will need to initiate promotion campaigns and research activities aimed at rediscovering the magnificence of the Geoparks. Fortunately, our San’in Coast Geopark covers a vast area, so we are willing to take a proactive and leading role in these activities.

Q. Today the national budget will be officially approved. To what parts do you pay attention and what’s your take on Tokyo’s policy to procure more than half of the total revenues by issuing national bonds?

 As social capital improvement is delayed in Tottori Prefecture, (I’m paying attention to) the budget for road construction, for one thing. Another point is whether or not the commencement of the new construction project in Sakai port will be approved. In relation to the Education Ministry, I’m monitoring the discussion on changing the number of teachers.  Finally, I’m also monitoring how they will try and break out of debt. I think we have reached a point where discussion of drastic tax system reform is inevitable. I think that in consideration of the fact that tax is enacted by law, this issue must be tackled by the Diet with both the ruling and opposition parties involved.