Pleas to Tokyo for Heavy Snowfall Assistance

 The heavy snowfall, which has continued since the end of last year, is in decline now, but we still need to be on the alert. I went to Tokyo the day before yesterday and made requests, along with Niigata Prefecture and other relevant parties, to the national government and political parties for countermeasures against damages due to the snowfall. The national government’s side expressed their intention to implement support measures against the recent snowfall damages through such items as special tax allocation.

Toll-Free Passage on Yonago Expressway to Bypass Blocked Route 482

 One of our serious snowfall-related problems at present is the partial blockage of Route 482, which connects Yonago City [in western Tottori Prefecture] and Okayama Prefecture. The restoration of the road will be nowhere in sight for the time being. Route 482 is an essential road connecting Okayama with areas in western Tottori Prefecture via general roads. The blockage of this route makes it impossible to move across the prefectural border.  Therefore, based on the “mutual cooperation agreement in case of disasters” concluded the other day between NEXCO-West (West Nippon Expressway Company Limited) and Tottori Prefecture, we had made a joint request with Okayama Prefecture (to NEXCO-West) for approval of toll-free passage on parts of Yonago Expressway as an alternative to Route 482, and we have just received authorization from NEXCO-West to halt toll collection on the areas of Yonago Expressway between the Hiruzen and Kofu interchanges from 3 o’clock in the afternoon today, which I’m grateful for.

Volunteers to Restore White Sand and Green Pines

 For the purpose of restoring the pines, which suffered broken branches and other damages from heavy snowfall since the year-end, we recruited volunteers to restore the white sand and green pines, and we have received more than 200 applications from across Japan as of now, which I’m grateful for.   Moreover, the planning committee of Tottori Burger Festival offered to provide their specialty burgers for the soup runs. The circle of cooperation is expanding among local restaurant businesses.

Tourist Attraction Campaign in Line with Toll-Free Trial of Yonago Expressway

In order to curb the negative reputation suffered by the tourist sector due to the heavy snowfall, I visited the headquarters of JTB (JTB Corporation: former Japan Travel Bureau) in Tokyo the day before yesterday and asked for their cooperation. We have also decided to run a campaign for 5 weeks from February 14 and offer free gifts worth 1 million yen per week to visitors of accommodation facilities in Tottori Prefecture, such as Matsuba crabs, Tottori Wagyu [Japanese beef], or packages of vegetables damaged by the snowfall. By implementing measures like these, we will do our utmost in order to revive Tottori Prefecture from the snowfall damages.

Tottori Wagyu Olein 55

 Yesterday, we held a presentation party of our new food brand “Tottori Wagyu Olein 55” at a hotel in Tokyo. This brand name is given only to the beef from cattle which trace pedigree to the legendary ox, Ketaka-go, containing oleic acid at the rate of 55 percent or more. It’s a rare type of beef that can be produced from only one cow per one thousand nationwide. In the tasting held with Mr. Junichi Ishida, a Japanese actor, as a guest, it received extremely favorable comments. On February 26, in addition, our new sandfish brand is scheduled to come out in Tokyo under the brand name “Torohata.”

Establishment of Volunteer Center of National Rich Sea Creation Festival

 We are planning to establish the volunteer center of the National Rich Creation Festival on March 4. Since it’s a large-scale event where a variety of roles need to be played, I hope that the volunteers will be actively involved and all the prefectural residents will participate in the operation of the festival.

Inclusion of Yonago Expressway into Toll-Free Trial Project, etc.

 After our continued requests, the Yonago Expressway has been officially approved for inclusion in the toll-free expressway trial project. It is expected to have a great impact on our tourism and industries, which I appreciate from the bottom of my heart. However, it’s nothing more than a pilot program aimed at examining possible negative effects of toll-free expressways in a sense, so I urge the national government to implement careful and responsible follow-up measures. With this inclusion (of Yonago Expressway) into the toll-free trial as a start, we will request that NEXCO-West expand the Yonago Expressway into a four-lane highway, as it is expected to be busier with the larger traffic.

Tourist Attraction Campaign in Line with Toll-Free Trial of Yonago Expressway

 The Yonago Expressway will be toll-free, the Tohaku-Nakayama Highway will be open, and the Tottori Expressway will start service in Fiscal 2022. In line with the construction and formation of free round-trip routes within our prefecture, we will launch tourist attraction campaigns so that the tourists can enjoy the areas along the routes to the fullest.

Collaboration with Gainare Tottori

 The opening match for Gainare Tottori [a professional soccer team based in Tottori] in the J2 League [Division 2 of the Japan Professional Football League] is scheduled for March 6. Before that, Gainare Tottori and Tottori Prefecture are planning to conclude a comprehensive collaboration agreement for the promotion of tourist exchange and the like through the utilization of the J League. We are going to appoint Gainare Tottori itself as the Tottori Hometown Ambassador and ask them to engage in promotion campaigns with an eye to the increasing flow of people into and out of Tottori Prefecture in the future. For example, it will be possible to set up a booth in their away games in order to attract travelers to Tottori Prefecture, or, depending on the regions, bring our local specialties and sell them there or introduce certain tour packages. As a matter of course, we are planning to ask Gainare for their assistance for sports clubs or soccer schools in Tottori Prefecture.

Symposium, “Discussion on Participation into TPP [as tentatively translated]”

 Issues surrounding the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) are becoming extremely urgent. In order to get rid of the anxiety of the agricultural sector, concrete discussions and careful deliberations on the relevant measures are called for. A nationwide symposium is scheduled for March 5 with the participation of representatives from business circles and JA (Japan Agricultural Cooperatives). I’m scheduled to participate in the symposium on behalf of regional governors and am willing to present my opinions.

Prefectural Assembly’s February Session

 Tottori Prefectural assembly’s regular session in February will commence next week. For the assembly members and me, it will be the last assembly session during our term of office. The discussions of this session will probably focus on such issues as urgent measures against the snowfall damages or for economy and employment. In addition, I’m proposing a prefectural ordinance for eradication of crime syndicates. The reform of Tottori University of Environmental Studies will also be discussed there in order to achieve a final conclusion.

Q. Will you be specific about your plan on the timing, methods, and targets of the campaigns for tourist attraction after the inclusion of the Yonago Expressway in the toll-free expressway trial?

 Although we will need to make adequate adjustments with the relevant parties in the tourism sector about the details, we are planning to kick off the campaigns in June, when toll-free service on the Yonago Expressway will begin. We are going to promote our round-tour routes intensively, targeting the areas whose residents are able to drive to Tottori Prefecture, such as the Kansai, Chugoku, and Shikoku Regions. Before starting the campaigns, we are thinking of forming caravans together with parties related to the tourism sector or the mass media.

Q. Concerning the measures against snowfall damages, some say that arrangements should be made in order to give construction contracts to companies in Tottori Prefecture on a priority basis. What do you think of it?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that the construction firms in Tottori Prefecture, which play key roles in snow removal tasks, are less and less equipped, which ends up hampering the removal work,) The construction firms are battered, and the workers and equipment for the snow removal are lacking. It’s a problem seen nationwide, and the national government and governing parties are showing their understanding. We have believed that it will be in the interests of Tottori’s local economy to place as many work orders as possible with local businesses, and made arrangements, such as limiting the eligibility for participation into tender bids to businesses whose principal place of business is located within Tottori Prefecture. In addition, with regard to national projects, which are large in terms of lot, we are asking (the national government) to place orders with local companies.

Q. LDP members of the prefectural assembly include the governor’s “rights to cross-examination” in their draft proposal of the basic ordinance of the assembly posted on their webpage. What’s your take on it?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that the Liberal Democratic Party is soliciting opinions from prefectural citizens and that the rights to cross-examination allow the prefectural governor to confirm the intention of questions posed by the assembly members,) The rights to cross-examination themselves are what I greatly welcome. The approval of these rights will probably contribute to discussions becoming more and more vigorous. The assembly is a place of exchanging ideas where opinions should be clearly presented, the opponents’ opinions be listened to, and deliberations be given to find where the conclusion which the prefectural residents’ and regions’ desire lies, I believe.

Q. You seem to put emphasis on collaboration and cooperation with Okayama Prefecture, our prefecture’s neighbor. What kind of future vision do you have now?

 I hope to enhance the collaboration between the two prefectures more than ever. The Okayama and Yonago Expressways will be toll-free. If only the San’in Expressway is completely opened, it will be possible to come and go between Okayama City and the whole of Tottori Prefecture without much inconvenience. It will also enable Okayama Prefecture to use Tottori Prefecture as a single zone at low costs, which will be advantageous to them, I think.  Concerning the J2 League, it will be interesting if the matches between Gainare Tottori and Fagiano Okayama (a professional soccer team based in Okayama) become drawing cards. I hope and expect that steam will gather on both sides.

Q. In the triple polls held in Nagoya City on February 6, ex-mayor Kawamura won a landslide victory and a recall of the elections of municipal assembly members has been decided. What do you think of it?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that some say this result is due to the discontent with the existing political parties,) The national public’s feeling of distrust of the existing political parties affected the results of the Aichi gubernatorial election and the Nagoya mayoral election as well as the votes for dissolution of the Nagoya municipal assembly, I think. I’m concerned, however, that political methods trampling on the existing parties might cause confusion and confrontation and make it difficult to communicate with the national political arena, which will create harmful effects. The existing political parties are playing important roles in national politics in their own way. It would rather be necessary to ask them to reinforce their functions.