San’in Coast Geopark

 From August 1 through 4, the inspections will be conducted for the entry of the San’in Coast Geopark into the Global Geopark Network. The inspections are scheduled to take place at the Tottori Sand Dune on August 1, at Uradome Coast, Nagisa Koryukan and San’in Kaigan Nature Museum on August 2, and in Hyogo and Kyoto Prefectures afterwards. The other day Tottori Prefecture’s project team made the final adjustments for the inspections, including enhancing the Geopark-related display space installed inside JR Tottori Station, and putting the displays at children’s eye-level in San’in Kaigan Nature Museum. We will start renting out electric bicycles in Iwami Town (in the eastern part of Tottori Prefecture) for ease of access to the sites to be inspected, including Shirawara Coast. We are going to prepare ourselves as the local side.

Recheck of Fire and Disaster Prevention Helicopter

A string of disaster prevention helicopter accidents has been reported, including the crash of a helicopter in Saitama Prefecture (near Tokyo), which occurred the other day. I ordered our prefectural aviation squads for firefighting and disaster prevention to conduct rechecks to prevent such accidents. The heavier helicopters are, the harder it will be to fly them, so we have begun deliberation on methods to minimize the weight of the helicopters, including effective ways of loading the equipment in line with each specific purpose, such as primary emergency medical care or disaster relief. As the fire and disaster prevention helicopter for Tottori Prefecture is being overhauled now, we will work on drawing up accident prevention measures in August and September, when the overhaul will be complete.

Basic Agreement with MLIT for Mutual Cooperation in Case of Disaster

 As a pioneering measure in the national arena, Tottori Prefecture has decided to have the relevant divisions of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport join our headquarters for disaster control from the initial stage, and the signing ceremony will be held for the agreement with the participation of the relevant parties of the MLIT. In consideration of the approaching typhoon season, we will further strengthen our disaster-control structure.

Measures against Foot-and-Mouth Disease

 With regard to the issue of foot-and-mouth disease, although it seems necessary to wait for another month or more before the epidemic is declared to be over, movement restrictions on livestock have been lifted on July 27. In response, Tottori Prefecture decided to reorganize our relevant structures. In terms of our policies at the current stage, we will continue accepting communication and information around the clock at the Livestock Hygiene Service Centers for the time being, but stop disinfecting every farm household on August 14. We are also planning to return the stud bulls and breeding cows, kept in separate facilities, to Tottori Prefectural Animal Husbandry Experiment Station around the latter half of September. However, we will remain on the alert and conduct drills to prepare for any contingency.

National Guidelines for Budget Appropriation Request

 Yesterday the national budgetary request guidelines were endorsed by the Cabinet. Tokyo announced the policy of reducing the budget by 10 percent across the board, and I’m concerned about its impacts. I urge the national government to make sure that replacement of grant money with lump-sum subsidies will never allow them to abandon their responsibility easily and reduce the total budget allocation to regions.  The amount of the local allocation tax will be maintained on a level with last fiscal year, which can be appreciated. On the other hand, I think that the future focal point will be whether the public investment will be intensively allocated to the regions where the basic infrastructure, such as expressways, is still lacking. I’m determined to push Tokyo to reflect the actual regional conditions in their budget compilation and system reforms.

Schedule, etc.

 A number of projects will be implemented to build an eco-friendly Tottori Prefecture from now on, such as a lecture on Smart Grid technology or the installation of a rapid charger for electric cars in Iwami Town for the first time in Tottori Prefecture. As a large number of traffic accidents were reported last week, we are planning to issue an official traffic safety warning.

Q. Would you be specific about the details of the basic agreement with the MLIT on mutual cooperation in case of a disaster?

 In the process of post-disaster recovery or emergency measures, it is often necessary to ask the national government for support, but in the current organization of our headquarters for disaster control, the emergency force of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport is not stipulated to be continuously available. We wanted to change this structure and requested that the squad of the MLIT join our prefectural headquarters for disaster control from the initial stage.  As for the advantages of this measure, the prefecture can promptly organize our structure and request the MLIT to dispatch their taskforce from the initial stage in case of a serious disaster, and the MLIT can mobilize their personnel more easily by being present in the headquarters for disaster control, where disaster information is aggregated for the prefecture.

Q. In terms of the national budgetary request guidelines, in what particular areas do you intend to urge Tokyo to make public investment?

 The improvement of the port is the one that we are hastily working on. The other day I met Minister Maehara of the MLIF and made a request on this issue. During the course of the meeting, I also urged him strongly to complete the construction of the expressway networks.

Q. Also in terms of the guidelines, Tokyo is planning to restore the ceiling method and cut the budget by 10 percent across the board. What do you think of this policy change?

 By rights, I think it’s more advisable to assess each and every budget item in a responsible manner than adopting the ceiling method. Now I’m going to monitor the effects of the newly established “special reserves in the budget to restore Japan,” which amounts to far in excess of 1 trillion yen.

Q. Some other prefectures are starting to downsize their task forces on foot-and-mouth disease. How is Tottori Prefecture planning to maintain the relevant structures?

 As for downsizing the structures within our administration, I will wait until Miyazaki Prefecture declares the end of this epidemic, which is likely as early as the end of August.  We have been offering to provide Miyazaki Prefecture with the support of supplying to them the fertilizers made from seaweed in Nakaumi Lake as the support goods. We have recently reached an agreement with Miyazaki Prefecture and decided to launch the project.

Q. Gainare Tottori announced their plan to ask for donation and build a new soccer stadium in Yonago City. How appropriate do you think this plan is?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that the professional soccer team is planning to spend a huge amount of money in order to construct the stadium despite crushing debt,) Gainare’s side is determined to try and realize this plan in cooperation with companies, and municipal or prefectural residents (in Tottori), which I can appreciate. Gainare haven’t made any direct requests to us for support on this matter, so I imagine that they are taking their financial status into account in implementing the plan.

Q. Depending on Gainare Tottori’s financial situation, is it possible that some money will be withdrawn from the Tottori Bird Stadium international exchange fund?

 In consideration of what’s been going on so far, I will discuss the matter with Tottori City’s mayor in order to reach a final decision. Since financial health is an absolute requirement to be promoted to the J2 (of Japan Professional Football League), however, we may have to think about such a withdrawal.

Q. The constitutionality of vote-value disparity raised in the last Upper House election has been challenged in court. What’s your take on it?

 It’s up to the court to settle the issue, so I will wait for its judicial ruling. However, I don’t think that the disparity could be regarded as unconstitutional in itself. This issue would concern means of zoning constituencies or conducting elections.

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