Beijing Olympic Games

 The Beijing Olympic Games have started. Mr. Takahiro Yamamoto (a volleyball player born in Tottori) made a very strong showing, although his team, unfortunately, lost to Italy. And I’m looking forward to Ms. Wadami’s outstanding performance in cycling. I would like the residents of Tottori Prefecture to join me in supporting our athletes.

Supplementary Budget to be Presented in September

 Tokyo has begun to move toward compiling a supplementary budget in order to draw up new economic measures. Prime Minister Fukuda has said he will concentrate on the points of view of ordinary citizens. I expect him to carefully watch the local circumstances and prepare a supplementary budget which will match his words.  Tottori Prefecture’s administration has started compiling the supplementary budget to be presented in September. Rather than merely complementing Tokyo’s measures against soaring oil fuel prices and the like, I think there are a variety of things that we should take into account, such as tourism-related measures. Thus I will have the budgetary divisions make a close inspection into this matter.

Condition Survey on Water Parks

 The other day in Kobe City, urban rivers swelled suddenly and claimed several lives. This disaster led us to conduct emergency checkups of the water parks managed by the prefectural administration and it’s been confirmed that 24 of these have potential risks of sudden rising water levels.  With regard to these 24 parks, I ordered that emergency measures be taken, including posting warning notices or installing warning equipment such as wireless communication systems.

Abduction Issue of Japanese Nationals by North Korea

 A meeting has begun in Shenyang, China to discuss the issue of abduction by North Korea. There seems to have been no substantial progress yesterday but we want the relevant parties to engage in negotiations which will realize the hope of the abductees’ families.  Yesterday, the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura that the US will postpone removing North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, which will give the Japan’s side a momentum. So I would like our national government to work on concrete negotiations.

Schedules, etc.

 Our antenna shop will finally be opened on August 29. Now we are planning various ideas. For example, we will invite Mr. Shigeru Mizuki (a famous Japanese manga artist) to the shop in the afternoon that day and hold a tape-cutting ceremony with Yokai (Japanese faerie) characters. We are planning for an event on September 4, to which we intend to invite to the shop the ozeki Kotomitsuki, a sumo wrestler who graduated from Tottori Johoku High School, and Sumo stable master Sadogatake, who has a close tie with Tottori Prefecture. As I had a discussion with the Shimane prefectural governor the other day and we agreed to establish a joint project of antenna shops owned by the two prefectures of the Sanin Region, we will try to further publicize the whole of the Sanin Region in Tokyo.  Also, on August 17, Ebi no Jushichiya (Ebi’s 17th Night) will be held in Ebi, Kofu Town, Tottori. It’s a festival similar to Owarakaze no Bon (a famous bon festival in Toyama, central Japan) and we have been thinking of the possibility of utilizing this festival as a tourist attraction. A project has already been initiated to encourage the guests at Kaike Hot Springs to participate in Ebi’s 17th Night as a package tour, with the cooperation of the prefectural administration as a promoter to develop this festival into a tourism feature.  During and after the Bon period, we will participate in a manga event held in Bucheon, South Korea, and in Taipei, Taiwan in order to promote “Manga Kingdom, Tottori” with manga books such as “Gegege no Kitaro”, “Detective Conan” and “Harukana Machi-e(Distant Neighborhood)” as the promotion materials. (These manga books have been created by manga artists born in Tottori.) Our Mr. Shigeru Mizuki (the author of “Gegege no Kitaro”) is expected to receive an award at the Korean festival.  Starting from August 20, the "Yokai Festival” will be held in Nagoya Dome in grand style. This is a golden opportunity to publicize Tottori Prefecture, so Yokai (Japanese faeries) of Tottori Prefecture will make a guest appearance and the prefectural administration will set up our booth for promotional purpose. The Chukyo Region will become more and more familiar to Tottori Prefecture by the opening of the Tottori Expressway. The partial opening of the New Meishin Expressway has already produced results. We will continue to engage in promotional activities.

Handling of the Results of the National Academic Achievement Test

 Yesterday the prefectural board of education decided not to disclose the said results contrary to the request by the information disclosure council. I think it’s necessary for the parties concerned to seize this opportunity to consider once again for what purpose the said tests are conducted.  I don’t think that every facet of education can be managed by school sectors. Where some follow-ups have turned out to be necessary, I think some kind of tie-up with domestic education will be needed. If the test results cannot be used as material for this purpose, one might question why tax money is used for such tests. The information should be shared with local residents and parents as well.  Tottori Prefecture has regarded information disclosure as a provision of the Constitution. We have believed that we need to conduct transparent administration in order to gain residents’ trust, and we have pushed forward with pioneering information disclosure in the national arena. The purpose of the said disclosure does not consist in revealing test results of each individual student, which would create a strained classroom atmosphere. If the relevant ordinances need to be revised, we are ready to make the revision, although the discussion remains to be realized.

Q. According to your comments yesterday, you intended to revise the ordinances fully to allow the disclosure. Would you be more specific about this?

 If the board of education argues that some system change is required, such as imposing some degree of limitation or determining the conditions in which the disclosed information is to be used, we are ready to lend our ears to their opinions.

Q. Don’t you have any hesitation in putting further limitation on the ordinances, which already include and stipulate various local rules?

 With regard to the content of the Board's opinion, if any measures are included in order to avoid negative impacts on children, I think a certain degree of limitation is inevitable. Of course this is a matter of ordinances, so the discussion in the prefectural assembly is required to reach a final conclusion.

Q. Last week when you visited the Regional Headquarters-Japan of Asiana Airlines, did you make any requests to Asiana’s side, or did they tell you anything specific?

 The other day, I explained to Asiana’s side about the promotional measures discussed in the executive promotion committee for the utilization of the Yonago-Seoul international flight service. In addition, I asked them to duly recognize the vigorous efforts made by the two prefectures in the Sanin Region (Tottori and Shimane). Mr. Hyun Dongshil, the Executive Vice President and chief of the Regional Headquarters-Japan of Asiana Airlines, said that he appreciated the efforts by the two prefectures in the Sanin Region.  Yonago Airport has made a better showing than other airports which are part of the service routes of Asiana Airlines. I hope enhancing the promotion measures aimed at both inbound and outbound travelers will lead to securing the winter schedule, and, moreover to keeping the flight service profitable.  Asiana didn’t make any negative comments or say outright that it is inevitable to reconsider the continuation of the flight service. Rather, I take it that they listened to our explanation and showed that they were willing to work with us for the continuation of the flight service.

Q. When can we judge whether the flight service will be maintained or not?

 I hear that the final announcement will be made in September.

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