Q. Regarding the cabinet reshuffle, how do you evaluate (the work of) Internal Affairs Minister Katayama since he assumed office last September?

 Frankly speaking, I don’t have an impression that the decentralization reform has progressed. There are still lots of issues to be tackled. He seemed to be proud to think that he has succeeded in introducing the lump-sum subsidies, but we, the administration of Tottori Prefecture, haven’t been given any details of the amount to be allocated yet, so we cannot make relevant estimations and our budget compilation is hampered. I hope that they (the national government’s side) will disclose the related information as soon as possible to the working level.

Q. Do you think you can support the purpose of the lump-sum subsidies itself?

 The original purpose of the lump-sum subsidies should be the switch of the financial structure in order for the regional side to be able to implement projects that residents really need more freely and with originality and ingenuity, which itself can be appreciated. However, the lump-sum subsidies suggested this time are nothing more than a measure of saving appearances, in consideration of the fact that the account audits will be imposed as in the case of “governmental subsidies.” This will make it harder to realize the effects of the lump-sum subsidies, I think.

Q. What do you expect first and foremost from the new lineup of the Cabinet?

 I want them to squarely face up to the livelihood of the national public and boldly tackle such issues as economy, employment, and promotion of decentralization. I urge them to break out of the national politics bound and limited by intraparty affairs or disputes between parties.

Q. The Hiroshima City mayor announced his intention not run for his fourth term on the video-sharing site YouTube. What do you think about this?

 Making political statements on video-sharing sites itself is permitted and guaranteed by the Constitution in terms of freedom of political activities, so his action is not inappropriate. On the other hand, however, as this issue is closely related to the notion of democracy, I think it’s also necessary for him to try and fulfill accountability through dialogues with municipal residents. Generally speaking, it will probably be more appropriate to engage in open discussions.

Q. You must have met a parliamentary secretary of the MLIT regarding the major traffic jam on Route 9. How was his reaction?

 I frankly pointed out the problems in our region to the parliamentary secretary of the MLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport). I also made a request to him for the early completion of the San’in Expressway, and countermeasures against snowfall and installation of snow-melting equipment on the spots where icy road accidents frequently occur. With particular regard to the system of snow removal, I emphasized their need to establish a cooperative structure with the regional side.  The parliamentary secretary gave me words of apology and expressed his intention to revise the system in his response.

Cabinet Reshuffle

 Prime Minister Kan has announced his intention to reshuffle the Cabinet. Instead of wrapping himself up in the power struggle within his party or the Diet, I hope he will take due account of the interest of our country and citizens, regional development, the economy and other issues in forming a new lineup of the Cabinet.

Urgent Requests to National Government

 Yesterday I went to Tokyo together with Governor Mizoguchi of Shimane Prefecture and made requests to Minister Kano of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and the Minister of State for Disaster Management, Mr. Matsumoto for measures against snowfall-related damages. (The national government’s) designation of (the recent heavy snowfall in Tottori as) a heavy disaster is highly unlikely, but our prefectural administration will conduct our independent countermeasures and create a system in which affected parties in such sectors as fishery, agriculture, forestry, commerce and industry, and tourism can engage themselves in their business safely and soundly.

Budget for Measures against Damages Caused by Heavy Snowfall

 In response to the results of arrangement with municipalities, JA (Japan Agricultural Cooperatives), parties related to fishery cooperatives and the like, we are planning our independent prefectural measures against the damages caused by the snowfall worth about 1.5 billion yen for the time being. The extent of the damages is under calculation now, but depending on the extent, it will be possible for us to consider additional expenses in the supplementary budget to be proposed in February. We will implement appropriate measures promptly and concurrently.
 For example, we will create a support project to salvage and repair sunken fishery boats as a first challenge nationwide. Also, as a loan-related support for fishery operators, the prefectural administration is planning to provide subsidies equivalent to one third of the actual burden rate of the interest. Combining this with support from municipalities and fishery cooperatives, we are planning to provide loans with no interest.  With regard to agriculture, damages to green houses have been reported over a wide range of areas. We are also planning subsidization measures with regard to these. With the support of the municipalities and JA combined, the emotional burden (on agriculture workers) will be further reduced.  We are considering providing loans to commerce and industry as well. In consideration of the decline in the number of customers due to the heavy snowfall during the New Year’s holidays, we will firmly implement campaigns toward spring in order to bring the number of customers back to previous levels.  In addition, in order to distribute imperfect vegetables as “Wakeari vegetables (vegetables with reasons),” negotiation with actors in the marketplace is under way. We will use the recent damages from the snowfall as a springboard and take proactive sales measures.

Schedule for Tomorrow

 The first assembly of the Greater Kansai Association is scheduled for tomorrow. JR’s Kurayoshi Station will see the opening of its free passage between its North and South entrances tomorrow, too. On February 27, the Tohaku-Nakayama Highway (in central Tottori Prefecture) is scheduled to be opened. I strongly hope that new Central Tottori and new Tottori Prefecture will open up.

Character of Tottori Anikaru Festival

 The main character of Tottori Anikaru Festival (Anikaru: animation culture) has been finally created, which we present here today. It was designed by Mr. Takami Akai, who was born in Tottori Prefecture. Its features represent (specialties from) around Tottori Prefecture. Its hair and skirt are made in the motif of claws of a Matsuba crab and the San’in Coast Geopark, for example. A festival of animation songs is scheduled for February, as well as the Tottori Anikaru Festival in autumn. We will proceed with the preparation steadily toward the International Manga Summit to be held next year.

Spread of Influenza in the Prefecture

 Influenza has started to spread in Tottori Prefecture about two weeks later than other areas and regions in Japan. I would like the prefectural residents to be on their guard.