Prefectural Assembly’s June Session

 The Tottori prefectural assembly’s June session will be convoked next week. We will compile the supplementary budget worth 11.095 billion yen, and propose revision of ordinances or organizational changes. This will be my first jousting match with the new lineup of the prefectural assembly members, and I’ll try to keep a cool head during the discussions. It will also be my first step toward completion of my next 4-year term, so I will try to ensure that the development of the discussions is open and accessible to the prefectural residents.

Role of Conference for Promotion of Natural Energy

 Yesterday, a press conference was held in Tokyo by SOFTBANK CORP. President Masayoshi Son and several prefectural governors in order to announce the establishment of a conference for natural energy with the participation of local autonomies. I support the promotion of natural energy advocated by Mr. Son. I will tell Mr. Son that Tottori Prefecture is ready to offer a site for the Maga Solar facility [Maga Solar: large-scale solar power system] capable of generating 20 megawatts of power, and cooperate and engage ourselves in the project. In Tottori Prefecture, there are some premises already developed and available for the project, such as the industrial estate and the residential land in Sakitsu area, Yonago City. In such sites, there is no concern about shade and the land is already reclaimed, so it’s possible to launch the project right away there. We have just started the efforts to develop the area in and around Yonago City as a key site of the smart grid [smart grid: a next-generation electricity network], including the plan of a designated special zone to suggest to the national government. We, as the Tottori prefectural administration, are eager and willing by all means to come forward and support the concept of the Mega Solar, advocated by Mr. Son.

Measures Regarding Tohoku Earthquake

 With regard to the Great East Japan Earthquake [Tohoku Earthquake], Tottori Prefecture has taken the lead in implementing relevant measures among the other prefectures in the country. We are planning to assemble the municipal mayors [in Tottori Prefecture] in order to convene an administrative round-table conference on May 31 aimed at discussing risk management as one of its main topics, and move toward establishment of a collaborative system with the municipalities in consideration of the lessons learnt from the said recent disaster. In addition, we will prepare countermeasures against the disaster’s impacts on our prefecture’s economy, including the doubling of the loan amount aimed at assisting self-sustainability of smaller-sized businesses. On May 30, the consultation counters will be set up in our Eastern, Central, Western, and Hino Regional Offices and launch the service to help the businesses overcome the harsh circumstances. Also on May 30, I will hold a two-way talk session together with the Shimane prefectural governor, and the meeting of the governors’ association of the Chugoku Region will be held on the same day. I will seize these opportunities and raise the debates on the issues regarding disaster prevention, including nuclear safety. Now I feel we need to start doing as much as we can on the local level.

Function as Key Site of the Japan Sea Rim

 With an eye to the Japan Sea Rim Era, we have established a business support center in Vladivostok, Russia, which means the opening of an office which will promote exchanges between Russia and Japan via Tottori Prefecture. Unconventionally, the office has been set up inside a port. And this facility was reported in the local news. In South Korea, we participated in the 2011 Hana Tour Travel Exhibition, organized by HANATOUR [a travel company in South Korea]. We had the pleasant impression that the South Korean TV drama, Athena (in which Tottori Prefecture appeared as one of the locations), is extremely popular there. Setting things up on a less personal side is what we will need to address from now on. In the near future, the national government will accept applications for (the designation of) key ports in the Japan Sea Rim. And we will launch a campaign to do our utmost to win the appointment for Sakai Port (in western Tottori Prefecture as a key port). At the same time, we will start the efforts toward the budget compilation for commencement of the port outfitting, as well as its designation as a nationally executed project.

Hosting Kinki-Chugoku-Shikoku B-1 Grand Prix in 2012 in Tottori City

In the Kinki-Chugoku-Shikoku B-1 Grand Prix, a recently held competition of B Grade Gourmet (cheap and common foods and drinks in Japanese food culture), Tottori City has been selected as the venue for their next round. If its organizational committee is established, Tottori prefectural administration is ready to join it and engage in active support.

Q. Regarding the Mega Solar, am I right in understanding that you’ve referred to the industrial estate in Sakitsu area, Yonago City, as a candidate site now?

 There are quite a number of ideas and possibilities on this point now. Including the possibility of Tottori Sand Dune, the appropriate sites are being searched for nationwide now. However, Tottori Prefecture has some immediately available sites, such as the one in Sakitsu, Yonago City. Today, since Mr. Masayoshi Son will attend the meeting of the Union of Kansai Governments, as the head of Tottori prefectural administration I’m eager to bounce our concrete proposal off SOFTBANK CORP.

Q. On the subject of Osaka prefectural governor Hashimoto’s remark on the number of assembly seats, you were countering his argument in a press conference yesterday. Will you reiterate your view once again?

 The Committee of the Union of Kansai Governments will hold its meeting later today. The meeting will be televised, so I’m not sure how deep a discussion we can have on this issue. I’m willing, however, to exchange views with him, if possible. As for my basic stance, this is a matter of autonomy in Osaka Prefecture, which I don’t mean to criticize. Rather, I should perhaps extend my best wishes to him. However, he applied his barometer in his prefectural administration to all the other prefectures in Japan in raising a debate on the number of assembly seats. But each local government has its own circumstances. It’s hard for me to understand why he trivializes the discussion into Tottori Prefecture. Instead, he should propose a fair discussion on what kind of autonomy system is required as an overall issue on the local government system.

Q. The maximum toll limit of expressways at 1,000 yen will be abolished in June, and the toll-free trial of the Yonago Expressway has been postponed. How is the prefectural administration going to respond to this?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that these national policies might have impacts on the tourists who are planning to visit sightseeing spots in Tottori Prefecture by car,) It will be necessary to shore up once again in a situation like this. During the compilation process of the initial budget, in expectation of the effects of the toll-free trial on the Yonago Expressway, which would have been realized around June, we were planning to conduct a campaign to encourage travelers to make a tour and visit various spots all across Tottori. We will take advantage of the results of the preparation to do what we can to minimize the decrease in number of the tourists.

Q. The 5th council meeting for the establishment of the new nationalized Tottori University of Environmental Studies was held yesterday, and its operational policies were mostly approved. What do you think of it?

 (After the reporter’s questioning if Governor Hirai thinks the council’s approval on the said policies will lead to their approval in the assembly’s June session,) That will be up to the prefectural assembly. And it will be necessary for us to accept the results of the discussion in a level-headed manner and reflect them in the future operation of Tottori University of Environmental Studies. I believe, however, that we have completed a framework which is viable as it is.