Initial Budget for Fiscal 2009

 The prefectural assembly’s (February) session came to a close yesterday. The initial budget amounting to 338.7 billion yen and several ordinances have been approved, and the groundwork has been completed for the prefectural administration in the new fiscal year.
 The initial budget includes 13 billion yen for economic and employment measures. Combined with the supplementary budget in the last January and February, project spending equivalent to 35 billion yen has been assured as a 15-month budget. The employment base of 2,700 workers will be established in total, including the base of 1,400 workers in the initial budget.
 We must exert efforts to implement these measures. It’s necessary to make the most of these budgets for job security in the region, and the reassurance of the unemployed, whose number is still on the rise.

Ordinances and Organizational Change

 As an alternative to the human rights protection ordinance, it’s been decided that a specialized consultation system will be established by means of modifying the Tottori Prefectural Ordinance for Building a Society with Respect for Human Rights (as tentatively translated). We will start up many other systems and proceed with the organizational change.
 We will dedicate ourselves to the improvement of services, by such measures as setting up the Livelihood Security Bureau (as tentatively translated) and designating every Sunday and Saturday as opening days for consumer affairs consultation. In consideration of the current employment situation, we have also decided to change the organizational structure for the smooth implementation of employment measures including the setup of the Employment and Human Resource General Division (as tentatively translated). Based on the ordinance for the protection and development of the Tottori Sand Dune as Japan's Best, which was enacted last September, the Tottori Sand Dune Office will start operation on April 1.
 With an eye to the commencement of these measures, in order to reaffirm their realization, I will call for an executive meeting tomorrow. We will discuss the reassurance of economic and employment measures compiled in the 15-month budget and making demands for an across-the-board support system in the prefectural administration regarding human rights consultation.

North Korean Missile Launch

 It’s outrageous and extremely regrettable that North Korea has initiated preparation to launch a missile or satellite, as reported in the news media.
 I urge Tokyo to do all they can to prevent the launch. Tottori Prefecture conducted a communication drill yesterday. We need to speed up the establishment of our emergency response system.
 There has been no official indication of possibility that the missile will fall on Tottori Prefecture, so I would say it’s not necessary for the local residents in Tottori to be excessively alarmed at present. However, we will establish a system as an administration in order to respond to contingencies and do what we can for the security of the residents in Tottori.

Outbreak of Tuberculosis

 After a 10-year interval, an outbreak of tuberculosis has occurred. Although the number of patients has decreased, tuberculosis has evidently not been eradicated yet and there are still cases of the disease, so I would like to ask the residents in Tottori Prefecture to exercise caution. We will host the National Tuberculosis Prevention Conference (as tentatively translated) at the end of the next fiscal year, so we need to foster momentum for this movement.

Schedule, etc.

 On and after this weekend, the expressway toll will be reduced to 1,000 yen, which may turn the tide of declining tourism. On the perception that it’s necessary for Tottori Prefecture to publicize itself, we will embark on a campaign entitled “Double Welcome to the Nearest Destination, Tottori Prefecture! (as tentatively translated)” with the support from the tourism sector. On March 28, when the campaign kicks off, we will take part and run the campaign at the roadside station in Kawahara Town and the service area in Hiruzen district.
 It’s necessary to raise the level of publicity not only of Tottori Prefecture but also of the whole San-in Region. Last August, I had a talk with Governor Mizoguchi of Shimane Prefecture and the young administrative staff members of Shimane and Tottori Prefectures. Inspired by that, Shimane Prefecture had designed and produced a T-shirt bearing the logo, “Shimane Is Located to Tottori’s Left” and Tottori Prefecture has created a similar T-shirt bearing the logo, “Tottori Is Located to Shimane’s Right” in a gesture of synergy. With the cooperation of relevant parties, we are planning to introduce it on March 31.

Q. The other day, a fatal accident occurred in the prefectural forest experiment station. Is the prefectural administration planning any preventive measures against a reoccurrence of such an accident?

 I deeply regret that one of our staff members has lost her precious life. She was dedicated to her research and her death is a great tragedy. We must be quick to establish a system to prevent official casualties.
 I ordered the working-level staff to clarify the cause of the accident and issued an instruction in paper to conduct a general checkup on all possible hazards in the administration’s facilities. Similar hazardous equipment or places might be found, so I called for an immediate checkout of safety precautions.
 I also feel the need to reexamine how operations are conducted. I issued a relevant edict. I will convene an executive meeting tomorrow, give relevant divisions strict guidance for prevention of official casualties, and publicize and share the ideas and opinions we get through the process in the prefectural administration. I was thinking of having a discussion tomorrow and kicking off a zero-official-casualty campaign.

Q. What do you think caused the accident?

 We are conducting an independent investigation, whose results have yet to be analyzed, but it’s suspected that there were some defects in the equipment. I wonder why they failed to be repaired. I also doubt that the divisions concerned had fully comprehended the working conditions. I ordered every division across the prefectural administration to immediately reexamine the possible hazards and working conditions first and foremost.

Q. By the expressions “repairing the equipment” and “working conditions,” do you mean that you think there were problems in the administrative structure of the prefecture?

 I feel that each staff member had tended to be isolated, which is unfortunate. We need to accept the accident as a serious lesson.

Q. Does the expression “isolated” refer to the working system under which each dangerous task is conducted by only one person?

 The deceased staff was an experienced researcher and in charge of the facility herself. We haven’t grasped what had happened exactly yet, but we could have set up a system under which another staff member is assigned to take charge of managing the whole facility or other staff members cross-check the safety of the facility.

Q. Do you mean to say that the accident happened because there were defects in the facility and the system had not been established to cross-check the defects?

 That’s right. Firstly, we need to immediately check if there are any similar defects across the prefectural administration and repair the defects, if any, which must be fixed immediately, even if it requires us to use the reserved fund.

Q. Today the Organization of Kansai Unity will present the draft proposal for establishment of the Kansai Extended Association (as tentatively translated). What’s your take on this?

 (After the reporter’s request to Governor Hirai for the explanation about the content of the proposal and whether Tottori Prefecture will join the association or not,) Since we are an autonomy, it will naturally require us to go through large-scale procedures including approval of the prefectural assembly if we intend to participate in an official extended association. Now we are still in the middle of debate about its framework.
 I say that the discussion has just begun, and we would like to wait and see how the discussion will develop while taking part in it. At present, we haven’t got enough information to make a decision as to whether we will join the association or not.

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