About schedules, etc.

On August 28, I, together with the members of prefectural assembly, municipalities, related economic circles in Tottori prefecture and the manager of the Labor and Commerce Department of Shimane prefecture, visited the Asiana Airlines Head Office in Seoul to meet and talk with the president, Mr. Joo-an Kang. Last Monday, I was suddenly informed of their decision of the suspension of the international flight services between Seoul and Yonago, and I then took an immediate action to deal with it. I feel better now as I could put the suspension back for the meanwhile. But still, this is not a real solution unless the seat occupancy can be improved. We need to create the concrete measures by an all-out effort from the Sanin region as a whole. I called Governor Mizoguchi of Shimane to have a talk with me on this issue, and he agreed to it. Shimane and Tottori prefectures need to take steps to improve seat occupancy, using the Sanin International Tourism Association (established in 2003).
Next week, an international tourism conference will be held in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Kim JinSun, Governor of Gangwon-do province, South Korea, will participate in the conference. Tottori vice governor Fujii will participate on behalf of our prefecture. I instructed Mr. Fujii to have a talk with Mr. Kim JinSun for restarting the exchanges between Gangwon-do and Tottori. I have already expressed my thanks to Mr. Kim JinSun for his approach to Asiana Airlines and my willingness to restart the exchanges between the two municipalities.
Yesterday, the Hyogo, Kyoto and Tottori governors had a meeting where we have discussed the wade range of problems, covering jointly international tourist routes for the tourists from South Korea and Taiwan. Finally, the three prefectures have agreed to propose to the central government a geo-park vision of the Sanin Coast. If it is realized, the vision will be able to gain worldwide recognition as a beautiful costal sightseeing area. By combining the various gifts of nature in our region, I want to tackle in a positive manner the promotion of tourism that will lead to the increase of the seat occupancy of the Airline.
Fishing of freshwater clams in Togo Pond will restart. Aforetime, questions were raised about the fish poaching and the damage caused. The fishermen who have cheated are now paying penalties. I want to urge the revision of water fisheries’ regulation so as to charge them up to 100,000 yen or six-month jail sentence through discussions with the Fisheries Agency.
I am now summing up my proposals for the supplemental budgets which will be debated in the September assembly session. The measures for increasing the seat occupancy of Asiana Airlines will be in the center.
The reduction of burden charges for the families whose children (more than one in each family) need to be institutionalized will be also on the agenda. The prefectural administration considers establishing a system of its own to support such families aside from the municipalities; since the central government does not cover it in the law to help the disabled become independent.

Q. For the increase of the seat occupancy between Seoul and Yonago, how do you shore up the Sanin International Tourism Association?

Even though the Sanin International Tourism Association has been working on various businesses, it cannot be denied that the seat occupancy is falling. They need a breakthrough in the current situation. There was a proposal from the Asiana Airlines in which they recommend to promote golf courses and school trips. It will be possible to form a working team incorporating therein the staff of the Airline if the Association and pertinent public and private sectors implement measures in a unified manner. I want to consult with the concerned parties of Shimane prefecture and others to organize a special team based on the Association.

Q. There is an argument whether or not the flight services between Seoul and Yonago is worth the aid of 200 million yen to maintain.

Since this happened, I have been aiming for the overturn of the suspension of this route service by the Airline’s decision. I think that the benefit brought by this service is big for our community. As for the emergency aid, I have set it to 70% of the seat occupancy. I will provide a certain level of financial aids if the goal achievement is short. I never think this is wasted money when I calculate the revenues and expenses in total. I consider this investment as being of a temporary nature to maintain the service.

Q. Will the aid continue endlessly?

I do not think so. When I talked personally with Mr. Joo-an Kang, president of Asiana Airlines, he has mentioned that the deficit for half a year of the flight service between Seoul and Yonago is about 77 million yen and the annual deficit in recent years is 100 million yen. Because of this reason, they decided the suspension. That is reality. In the future, I won’ be able to overturn the suspension from this fact without a persuasive answer from us.

Q. Will the aid be continued unless the seat occupancy can achieve 70%?

I have already documented the issues to discuss with Asiana Airlines every half year, which will be submitted by the end of this year. I think that Asiana Airlines expects our continuous support. However, we know there is a rule that a company’s finances must be determined in compliance with democracy.

Q. Shimane says that they will not provide financial support. Regarding other proposals from Asiana Airlines, what kind of support will both prefectures provide?

We should discuss what both prefectures can do jointly. I do not think that Shimane prefecture rejects the cooperation of the Sanin International Tourism Association. I think there is cooperative recognition between the two prefectures that the seat occupancy cannot be improved without mutual cooperation.

Q. There is booing from the residents as to why the administration must make a financial contribution. You should reveal the current effect through verification and provision of information for making the decision.

Absolutely. It's obviously true that we must discuss this with the residents in the process of the budget compilation for the next fiscal year. I believe that the Seoul-Yonago flight route has brought us a common benefit and convenience much more than people expected and appropriate to the East Asian age. Nonetheless, I must state this in figures. I will put things right through verification of the proposal from Asiana Airlines and then will make a choice. At the stage of the September assembly session where the supplemental budgets are determined; we must discuss conventional budgets and the budgets for improving the seat occupancy I already planned to add when the suspension issue arose. I want you to understand that these are transitional budgets. I will give shapes to the budgets, and will discuss with the Airline the timing the initial budgets will be compiled.

Q. How do you evaluate the data that customer needs are flowing over to Okayama Airport?

It will be an important viewpoint to survey actual conditions in considering the ways of strategy.

Q. Do you wish the prefectural residents to be more aware of the importance of the continuation, not just counting on the profitability and the convenience?

I want to appeal to the residents to understand the importance of the continuation of the Seoul-Yonago flight route as I wish the continuation not only for profitability and convenience. I have received various opinions on this suddenly emerged issue. I am glad to learn that many opinions were in favor of the continuation. I think this will be a strong wish of people throughout two prefectures.

Q. Are you going to step up the organizational use in the Lake Nakaumi area?

Since there is demand from the Nakaumi Conference of Mayors (consisting of Matsue, Yasugi, Yonago and Sakaiminato cities), the Chairmen Association of city assemblies and the Nakaumi economic circles, I want to have an opportunity to talk with them.

Q. To accept the tourists from South Korea, are you planning to review more the tourism including tourist facilities or tourist routes in the Sanin region?

Building the tourist facilities does not necessarily fit their needs. It would be too late to build such facilities. It would be rather appropriate to utilize what we have now, to think how to advertise, or to create new service menus and homepages in Hangul. I want to discuss this matter fairly in view of various opinions.

Q. By what reason did you decide the aid standard being set to three fourth out of the deficit?

I felt that as if Asiana Airlines said we cover all the deficit. In view of the amount involved on our side, their business effort is also indispensable. For this reason, I have set our financial aid to 3/4 out of all the deficit. I had no idea about their offer until I visited the Asiana Office in Seoul.

Q. Regarding the emergency aids, have you ever reviewed the burden of expenses to Yonago city, for example?

Unfortunately, I haven’t discussed it yet.

Q. Regarding the modality of support, do you have any ideas for the roles between the prefectural administration and the municipalities?

If I think of a possibility to increase the seat occupancy, creating incentives to the related local communities will be worth pursuing as a campaign to attract tourists. In this sense, it would be reasonable to ask them to bear certain amounts of money. However, the measures for investments to partially cover the running cost for the continuation that I have hammered out are just temporal. I am uncertain if the pertinent municipalities accept bearing the costs. So I want the municipal people to focus on the improvement of the seat occupancy as this is more important. When the time comes, I will organize the respective burden shares and roles through discussions.

Q. You have said that you will have negotiations with Asiana Airlines in next fiscal year. Do you intend to visit South Korea to have the negotiations with their top-ranking executives?

It depends on the situation. I might visit them if the seat occupancy grows at a sluggish pace. Presently, there is a situation where clerical negotiations are available between the two.

Q. The seat occupancy has been dropping since the disputed waters over Takeshima Island arose. How do you see the impact on this?

When I had an opportunity to talk with the Korean tourist agencies in South Korea for a tourism campaign, they said that the issue over Takeshima Island (South Korea calls the islands Dokdo) affected the tourism as I thought. Mr. Joo-an Kang, president of Asiana Airlines also has told me that the reason he decided to run their air line into the area with small population, where there is no demand of regular service, is because of the prospective demand through the international exchanges between Gangwon-do province and Tottori prefecture. In fact, since the issue over Takeshima Island arose, the international exchanges fell into an abnormal situation. I feel now the need of calling for recommencement of the exchanges to Gangwon-do province. I have already left my message with vice governor Fujii who will participate in the international tourism conference held in Chiang Mai, Thailand next week where he will meet with Kim JinSun, Governor of Gangwon-do province, South Korea. I have expressed my hope to Kim JinSun when I visited Seoul.

Q. What kind of messages did you leave with vice governor Fujii?

The overturn of the suspension of the Seoul-Yonago route has a lot to do with the Gangwon-do governor Kim JinSun’s encouragement to Mr. Park Sam-koo, the chairman of Kumho Asiana Group. I called the governor to extend my thanks for his hospitality during my stay in Seoul. Also, over the phone, I expressed my intentions of having concrete discussions for recommencement of our exchanges and bringing Mr. Fujii on behalf of Tottori prefecture in on the international tourism conference held in Thailand. I expect them to have heart-to-heart talks about what is necessary or what is an obstacle to the recommencement.

Q. Do you recognize that the second half of this year starting October is the last chance?

My cognizance is that the president of Asiana Airlines has decided to overturn the suspension of the flights, taking our willingness of the continuation, enthusiasm of concerned parties and suggestion from Gangwon-do governor into account. His talk is not like they will continue to fly the route. I think it implies that they will change their policy to suspend the route at any time.

Q. Also, do you recognize that is as far as you can go unless the seat occupancy increases for half a year starting October?

If conditions worsen and if there is no hope for the seat occupancy recovery, voices will arise questioning why we have to maintain the service taking the risk of long-term investments. It will be possible that we will face some difficult choices. I think of many people’s enthusiasm and hard work that have made the regular international flight services possible into Yonago Airport. If it disappears, many people would think that we will loose a channel linking to East Asia and countries in the world. We must make efforts to conquer the difficulties. Other areas like Fukushima and Miyazaki prefectures are increasing the seat occupancy by their golf courses and beautiful nature resources such as historically famous Japanese-style hotel that attract tourists from South Korea. Since Tottori prefecture has also many attractive spots, I believe that we will be able to change the current situation, depending on how we approach things.


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