Initial Budget Compilation for Fiscal 2011

 The initial budget compilation has entered its final stage. However, the national government hasn’t announced the amounts of the lump-sum subsidies to be allocated to each prefecture yet, so the compilation is extremely difficult. In order not to affect the projects of the next fiscal year, we will take such measures as using our own budget and conducting independent projects. Since it’s nothing more than the skeleton budget this time, the initial budget will be tightly compiled and budgetary addition will be made in the supplementary budget to be proposed in June next fiscal year. We will make careful calculations and try to make the initial budget reach about 320 billion yen in the end.

Financial Goals

 We are likely to accomplish the financial goals for my 4-year term of office as I stated in the manifesto. Specifically speaking, I promised to reserve 30 billion yen in funds and reduce the burden on future generations. Compared with the end of fiscal 2006, when I assumed office, the fund balance is likely to stand at 44.9 billion yen, that is, a 5-billion-yen increase, and the financial burden on future generations likely to decrease by nearly 65 billion yen. While commencing new projects and initiating a variety of measures, we succeeded in controlling our financial situation safely.

Enactment of Prefectural Ordinance for Eradication of Crime Syndicates

 We are now planning to enact a new Tottori prefectural ordinance for the eradication of crime syndicates. As a pioneering measure nationwide, we will try and make the ordinance applicable not only to places associated with sound upbringing of juveniles or residential areas but also to the whole prefecture in preventing the syndicates from setting up their offices.

Measures against Bird Flu

 The bird flu contamination has ricocheted to Aichi Prefecture, and an epidemic could break out anywhere in Japan now. In order to protect our region from such an epidemic, the Tottori prefectural administration will take every possible measure in close collaboration with farmers. We are now making sure that inspections are conducted on farms in the prefecture, as exemplified by the checks on bird nets, and nothing out of the ordinary has been reported within Tottori Prefecture so far. We will propose the expenses for the necessary measures in the supplementary budget in February, or in the initial budget (for fiscal 2011).

Measures against Disasters Using “Toritter” and So Forth

 When a major traffic jam occurred on Route 9 due to heavy snow during the New Year’s holidays, the messages posted on Twitter were an effective source of information. In consideration thereto, Tottori Prefecture has decided to use Twitter in disaster prevention and other measures, for the first time in the nation’s history. In “Toritter,” a regional Twitter portal site set up as of today, the messages on Twitter with the tag “#sanin_snow” attached are collected and released, so that they will be available to users, too. Another new tag, “#tottoriken” will also be set up in order to share a variety of regional information on such items as events or specialty products. The information will also be available on “Toritter.”

Schedule, etc

In the tourism sector, we are conducting various campaigns in consideration of the fact that the flow of tourists to Tottori Prefecture seems to have stopped. In order to strengthen our promotion of “GeGeGe’s Prefectural Government,” we are planning to place bronze statues of the manga artist Mr. Shigeru Mizuki and his wife in the entrance lobby of the government office building on February 4. A party is also planned to introduce a new food brand “Inshu Shishiniku (Tottori’s boar meat).” Next weekend, a promotion event for sweets is scheduled to open on Kotoura Gourmet Street (in central Tottori Prefecture). We will do what we can to revitalize Tottori Prefecture.

Q. Many heads of local autonomies have criticized the idea of introducing the Child Allowance. What is Tottori prefectural administration’s take on this?

 As far as the situation of municipalities in Tottori Prefecture is concerned, there has been no mood of rejection of the allowance. So we will give priority to the will of the working level in compiling the budget. However, it should be debated whether the distribution of cash as the Child Allowance itself is unanimously desired by the citizens.

Q. Regarding support for child-rearing, Tokyo is proceeding with unification of kindergartens and nursery schools. What do you think of Tokyo’s relevant plan after the certified “Kodomo-en” is established?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that the national government intends to allow a certain portion of kindergartens and nursery schools to operate separately and concurrently with Kodomo-en,) The establishment of Kodomo-en (a preschool facility aimed at supporting child-rearing and certified by prefectural governors,) which is a de facto complex of a kindergarten and nursery school, will contribute to the improvement of resident services, so the idea itself is good. There are problems to be solved, however, including the prospective dependence on financial resources of the regional side. I will carefully monitor the relevant discussions.

Q. Many high courts have ruled the vote-value disparity in the Upper House elections as unconstitutional. What do you think of this?

 Under the current election system of the Upper House stipulated in the Public Offices Election Act, seats are allocated on the basis of choosing each prefecture’s representatives with some consideration for the size of the population. From the perspective of reflecting residents’ will, this system is a reasonable one, I think. However, there is no doubt that the disparity is a serious constitutional issue. I will pay close attention to the ruling of the Supreme Court.

Q. Upon initial budget compilation for fiscal 2011, the new concept of “the policy strategy council” was introduced this fiscal year. How do you evaluate this approach at this stage?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that this council is aimed at basing the budget compilation on the policy debates to a larger degree,) Unlike the previous approaches, this council makes it possible to conduct policy debates and budget compilation beyond sectional boundaries. In addition, I have the impression that the burdens on the staff members have been reduced by not forcing them to prepare unnecessary materials. As we happened to work (only) on the skeleton budget this year, we didn’t (have to) deal with so many new budgetary items. While reviewing the budget compilation process this time, we will consider the methods to be taken in the future.

Q. On Twitter, messages are instantly released and it’s easy to collect various kinds of information, which can be beneficial. However, how do you plan to examine and ensure authenticity of the information?

 It will be difficult to ensure the authenticity. We will probably notify users beforehand that the posted messages cannot be guaranteed to be authentic and request that the recipients should use their own discretion. As a matter of course, in case certain information is confirmed as not being based on fact, we will try and make sure that the prefectural staff in charge will post messages to correct the misleading information.

Q. Do you expect that the bronze statues of Mr. Shigeru Mizuki and his wife will be an effective means to send information to the national public?

 Yes, I do. Although the “effects of GeGeGe” are seen only in the western Tottori Prefecture, we will promote the whole of our prefecture as a motif of manga comics.

Q. Upon initial budget compilation for fiscal 2011, what items or portions did you specifically focus on?

 We gave active consideration to measures against the severe economic climate and shrinking employment. For example, for the purpose of preserving employment, we are planning to introduce new support measures, such as providing subsidization for capacity investment to smaller enterprises which plan to switch to a different business category. In addition, we are engaged in the budget compilation with consideration for the projects which will contribute to safety and security of the prefectural residents, such as subsidies for special medical care for children or the programs aimed at improving children’s academic level.