Schedules, etc.

 Today’s opening saw stock prices dip below 9,000 yen once more. The yen exchange rate has fallen below 100 yen and continues into the 90s. Crude oil prices have dropped below 75 dollars per barrel, which indicates that the market itself is declining significantly compared to previous 140 dollar levels. In these circumstances, the future of Japan’s economy is quite uncertain.
 We don’t anticipate immediate impacts on local businesses in Tottori Prefecture, but I think the effects will emerge gradually. Previously the issue of high crude oil prices took precedence; however, we need to take up measures against the global recession now.
 The first national supplementary budget is soon to be approved in the Diet. Taking the situation into account, it’s necessary to analyze the current condition of Tottori Prefecture and discuss various matters such as the way to implement our supplementary budget approved in September and the measures to be taken in response to the summary of the first national supplementary budget. I will convene the executive meeting within the prefectural administration to discuss economic measures next Monday.
 Our first objective is to establish the approved matters in the supplementary budget in September. However, this is not connected with the national supplementary budget, so I think a thorough deliberation is needed. The finance issue is especially important. If the economy continues to worsen, small and medium-sized companies will suffer damage. It’s necessary to consider whether our existing measures can deal with such issues adequately.
 In the September session of the prefectural assembly, the ordinance for the protection and development of the Tottori Sand Dune as Japan’s best was under vigorous debate, but its framework has been approved as it is and will become the new rule regarding the sand dune, which we are very much welcoming. The penalty for desecration has been set on 50,000 yen, which I think is an appropriate amount for the visitors from outside Tottori and local parties concerned. I would like to call for a conference for the kickoff this month, if possible. We would like to start the discussion in order to make this ordinance effective and also make Tottori Prefecture the model of environmental conservation to be regarded highly on the national level. I would like to encourage Tottori City, the Ministry of the Environment, the Tottori branch of the Beautification Escort Staff (natural park foundation), local citizens engaged in conservation activities of Tottori Sand Dune, and the staff of Tottori University to join the discussion. I would like to discuss what type of framework we should form as the prefectural administration after the ordinance is enacted next April.
On Sunday, “Tottori Disaster Prevention Festa 2008” will be held on Wakasa Street of Tottori City. Without being constrained by the conventional framework of evacuation and disaster prevention drills, we are planning to make it an event in which many people can enjoy the vehicle-free promenade, watch the full-scale drills and deepen their understanding of disaster prevention.
With the half-year mark ending in September, the seat occupancy rate of the Yonago-Seoul flight service of Asiana Airlines was 60.5 percent. It fell short of the 75 percent target and there are many things to reflect upon. However, among the service routes connecting Japan and South Korea, the Yonago-Seoul service was relatively moderate. We are going to make a clear start to face the challenge in the last half of the year. A meeting will be held within the prefectural administration for that matter on October 17. Various issues need to be discussed, such as the measures to increase the number of travelers from Japan to South Korea, or promotion measures utilizing the advantage of a weak won.
Tomorrow, we will hold a meeting to prepare for the compilation of the initial budget. All executives within the prefectural administration will gather to discuss the compilation of the next fiscal year’s initial budget. As a focal point, we will proceed with the discussion in order to reflect upon the hopes, opinions, and future visions of the residents of Tottori Prefecture in the budget compilation.
Now, quite a number of travel agents from South Korea, China and Taiwan are staying in Tottori. Today they will hold a business meeting at Mt. Daisen, with a discussion program to follow. I’m going to attend the meetings to exchange opinions about issues such as those regarding Asiana Airlines and the economy, which will help in attracting foreign travelers to Tottori.

Q. Regarding the ordinance for the sand dune, will you be specific about the prefectural framework for the enactment in April?

 There should be an administrative division operating near the site. We will deploy staff who not only convey the magnificence and importance of the sand dune, but also have the power of authority. We intend to rent and set up an office close to the sand dune for this purpose.

Q. What measures are you envisioning at the current stage in order to promote the ordinance before its enactment?

 The ordinance itself will be publicized, which will be its biggest promotion. In order to familiarize local residents with it beforehand, we have begun laying plans within the prefectural administration to hold a symposium.

Q. The amount of the vandalism fine was reduced to 50,000 yen from the amount you proposed in the prefectural assembly. How did you come to this evaluation?

 Based on the principle of democracy, we make proposals and the assembly has the authority to revise them under the dual representative system. So I will accept the decision. I think the assembly members took into account its impact on the tourists’ feelings and considered that a fine as an administrative penalty, which is different from a penalty in that it will not be counted toward a criminal record, is more appropriate. I defer to the decision of the assembly.

Q. Concerning the campaign for the registration of the area including Tottori Sand Dune as a Geopark, what are your thoughts at this point?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that a conference will be held on October 20 to finally choose the Japan’s candidate sites,) I have the impression that we are on the borderline. Five regions are competing to take each of the three seats. The fact remains that it’s highly competitive. When the chairman and members of the Japan Geopark Committee visited us, however, we explained to them adequately about the current situation and showed them that we are sincerely engaged in environmental conservation activities and willing to make the area a living field to stimulate people’s interest in geology, which I believe they realized. Although I feel the situation is somewhat positive, I don’t think we can be optimistic that the area will be chosen.

Q. Some relevant parties say that it’s about time to consider how we will develop the sand dune. What’s your take on it?

 When the object is Mother Nature, each person concerned has a different concept and an infinite number of ideas are possible. We will handle it as far as a consensus can be reached.

Q. Regarding the future vision, I have the impression that emphasis is on a number of numerical targets. Why is that?

 As it’s necessary to make it easy for the residents in Tottori to monitor the administration, we did not shrink from utilizing the numeric targets. Some of them are ambitious or ideological, but we intend to share the targets with all parties.

Q. With regard to the disclosure of the national academic achievement test, I take it that you intend to put some limitation on the disclosure. What do you have in mind about the idea?

 Without the draft proposal of the board of education, we can not start the deliberation. It’s a matter of jurisdiction, so I will wait for their draft proposal.

Q. Regarding the economic measures, do you acknowledge that banking institutions in Tottori Prefecture have a severe attitude toward monetary loans?

 (After the reporter pointed out that Governor Hirai said it’s especially important to implement financial measures for small and medium-sized companies,) In case the economy tends toward austerity, we will do what we can to prevent an excessive credit squeeze. It’s necessary to grasp the current situation first. We have yet to grasp the current situation completely, but it’s sure that there are concerns. We need to investigate the real conditions and discuss the countermeasures with financial institutions.

Q. Concerning the health insurance program for those aged 75 and older, a collection error for premiums was reported yesterday and confusion still seems to remain at the working level. What do you think about it?

 I think it’s necessary for the relevant authorities to make revisions and start over. Institutional problems have been pointed out and it’s a fact that the system has not gained widespread support. Tottori Prefecture’s administration has indicated several problems including those regarding the burden of premium and made relevant requests to the national government.

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