Regarding the earthquake damage in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture

For the July 16 earthquake damage that killed over 10 people and injured more than 1,000 in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, I would like to express my deepest sympathy for all the people that have suffered damage by the earthquake. Tottori Prefecture has also experienced like damage when the Seibu (western) region was hit in 2000. It is no longer someone else's affair and I therefore strongly felt that we shouldn’t routinely neglect emergency preparedness. I immediately made a sympathy call to Governor Izumida of Niigata Prefecture, offering relief money from our prefecture and physical aids that we can provide through our quake-stricken experience. I have also spoken to him that victimized premises are hard to recover without experts, so we are ready to send the prefectural employees who have the special skills upon request. Yesterday, just then, Minister Suga of Internal Affairs and Communications visited Tottori prefecture. I have pointed out that the housing problem was the most serious and the disaster measures of the government were insufficient when the Tottori Earthquake hit the Seibu region in 2000. According to the report, the damage of Niigata’s earthquake this time has swept houses that were already collapsed by the previous earthquake. I therefore appealed to him that the government should take drastic measures for Kashiwazaki. I got positive vibes from Minister Suga. I, as the prefectural representative of having experienced an earthquake disaster, request the government to immediately subsidize the victims with housing, disaster-relief activities or to provide relief money to prevent the prolonged life as evacuees, using this occasion.

About the National Governors’ Association Conference

Last week, the conference of the National Governors’ Association was held in Kumamoto Prefecture. During the conference, I, together with like-minded young governors, held another meeting to draft concrete proposals on the hometown tax payment system. We distributed the proposals to all attendees and then briefly explained them. Although the pros and cons were batted back and forth, I think that we should continue the arguments. For the central government, I already made the proposals as the representative of the five prefectures to Minister Suga when he visited Tottori yesterday.

About the project team formation as to the economy and employment promotion

Today, I will open the economy and employment-generating projects for the purpose of adopting voices from private businesses and the concerned parties into our measures and policies of commerce and industry. I will start from the Tobu (eastern) region, followed by the Chubu (middle) region and Seibu (western) region. I will welcome the people’s recommendation in respective regions so that we will be able to reflect their ideas in the year-end budget compilation.

Q. What aid are you considering for the earthquake damage in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture?

We are now tallying up our aid ability in the prefectural office. Aid supplies, such as blue plastic sheets and blankets will be available. I am making arrangements for additional aid with the central government. It will be possible to provide medical relief supplies as well. Regarding the damaged housing, the judgment of off-limits or unsafe houses is difficult because the number is enormous. Wide experience and knowledge will be required in such judgment. By using our quake-stricken experience, we will provide whatever Niigata Prefecture wants.

Q. Are you going to have talks with the Chugoku Electric Power Co., Inc. to discuss nuclear power plant from which the water containing radioactivity flowed out due to the earthquake at this time even slightly?

When the vice president of the Chugoku Electric Power Company visited the Tottori prefectural office, I requested his cooperation in provision of information, tied closely to us. He understood my request because the countermeasures against nuclear power generation would be necessary if the introduction of plutonium-thermal utilization is implemented - this is now the center of controversy in Shimane, our neighboring prefecture. It does not make sense to me that the report says the quake was more than assumption, since we live in a country with frequent earthquakes. The nuclear power plant is the issue of Shimane prefecture though, I told the vice president to carry out an immediate inspection and then take measures for the security of the Sanin Region, if necessary.

Q. Concerning the hometown tax payment, what argument are you focusing on?

Minister Suga of Internal Affairs and Communications has commented on the hometown tax payment that he has a similar idea as like-minded young governors including myself when he visited Tottori prefecture yesterday. The uneven distribution of tax revenue sources is a big issue. Because the business taxation constitutes its center, accordingly the disparity between metropolis and rural cities like Tottori spreads more and more. We need to gain national awareness to change our present situation. The central aim is to pave the way for enriching the rural coffers by deliberating the hometown tax payment.

Q. Regarding the spill incident of waste fluid that happened in the Yonago Plant of Oji Paper Co. Ltd. What is the prefectural response? Or what is the governor’s thought?

The other day, I called for the plant manager and strongly opposed to the spill incident. The important question is ignorance of the Poisonous and Deleterious Substances Control Law. They should have been very careful in handling caustic soda, namely, sodium-hydroxide-induced deleterious substance. I emphasized the importance of company compliance to the manager. I believe they have already given frank recognition to their lacking and are improving the handling of these chemicals. Taking this opportunity, I want Oji Paper Company to establish an internal system and to be back in full force to gain the trust of the local people.

Q. Relative to the issue above, I think that you should reconsider the way of investigation of the prefecture, as you have made pledges of Japan’s best engagement of environmental problems.

Our prefecture has the regulations to handle the toxic and deleterious substances that have arisen at this time and the power of statutes pertaining to water contamination and air pollution. So let me check the way of operation, although I do not think things of this kind have been prevented by prefectural checks.

Q. Regarding the economy and employment-generating projects team which will start from today, what point did you consider the most as to the selection of the members?

I have selected the members through the arrangements with the involved parties of commerce and industry in each of Tobu, Chubu and Seibu regions. I have no intention of stabilizing the members. I prefer the formation in line with themes. I will therefore select the members as needed.

Q. The Upper House election is just around the corner. Respective parties incorporate in their manifestos the idea of decentralization. What is your impression?

I am not completely satisfied with the campaign issues as a whole because the issues of decentralization and regional developments are not covered fully. I really want the candidates to contest the race at the forefront of such issues as regional developments, disparity between the metropolis and rural cities and decentralization.

Q. How do you see the Upper House election from the standpoint of governor?

As far as I know, it will be the election to debate on the pension problem. I will watch the developments in the second-half round.


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