The 2009 Festival of Tottori-Inaba

 The 2009 Festival of Tottori-Inaba is finally opening. Yesterday the Dutch artist claimed victory in the World Championship of Sand Sculpture. And tomorrow, with the attendance of Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Hitachi, the 2009 Festival of Tottori-Inaba will mark its grand opening, and a series of events including the “World Sand Sculpture Festival” will kick off this weekend. I hope that not only the eastern region but also the central and western regions of Tottori Prefecture will enjoy a great turnout and prosperity for the coming year.

Consumer Policies

 As early as tomorrow, the law bills related to consumer administration are expected to pass the Lower House of the Diet. Measures for assuring the security of consumers’ livelihood are required within Tottori Prefecture, too. So we are now encouraging local municipalities, which have a closer relationship with residents, to set up consultation service counters for consumer life. This request is soon to be finalized, and the prefectural administration is opening that type of service counter for weekends.
 I’m currently directing relevant divisions to seize this timing and seek for the possibility of establishing a conference in order to organize the consumer policy operation system between the municipalities and the prefectural administration. We are planning to establish a system which will satisfy the residents’ needs for services, such as consumer consultation, while having thorough discussions with municipalities.

Requests to National Government Regarding Road Construction

 In relation to national economic measures, the project budget amounting to 250 billion yen has been allocated, and the budget for constructing expressways to connect the severed sections and complete the expressway network is also likely to be secured. In coordination with other prefectures, we need to make appeals for connection of the missing links in the regions where the expressway construction is delayed.

Relaxation of Standard for Residence Status in Prefectural Housing

 We are planning to relax the standard for residence status for prefectural housing in response to complaints that the housing is somewhat difficult to utilize in the economy-boosting measures. According to the plan, the current income limitation of 104 thousand yen per month will be raised just over 150 thousand yen per month in order to expand the safety net, in view of the predicted increase in unemployment.

Replacement of Lighting Equipment with LED

 We have been discussing the replacement of the lighting equipment in the prefectural facilities by spending the budgets which were approved consecutively at the end of the last fiscal year. We are deliberating the possibility of using LED, which is highly energy-saving, low-cost in the mid and long term, and eco-friendly.
 This measure is presumed to be applied to the buildings of regional offices and the Bureau of Health and Welfare. We are aiming for its full-scale implementation from this month through next month, after examining and confirming the quality of the equipment, including its lighting intensity.
 About 43 million yen will be disbursed in order to replace about 2000 fluorescent lights. The initial cost is high, but the LED-based lights are highly durable and consume less energy. We reached the decision after comparing them with other choices. I expect the support for local businesses to be a side benefit of this effort.

Shortage of Bees for Pollination

 A surprisingly sudden shortage of bees is reported in the news media. Here in Tottori, relevant measures have been taken mainly by JA (Japan Agricultural Cooperatives), but according to the closer investigation conducted yesterday evening, there has been a dearth in availability of bees in some cases. In cooperation with JA, we may need to collect information necessary to overcome this adverse situation, or implement temporary measures such as organizing agricultural support squads (who will conduct manual  pollination) if the bees cannot be secured by any means.
 In case it’s become impossible to resort to bees, I think it’s necessary for the prefecture to set up consultation counters together with JA, so we need to hold discussions with JA promptly.

Schedule, etc.

 I previously mentioned our intention to organize project teams as our new administrative system. As the first step, we will establish an urgent project for promotion of the ship service across the Sea of Japan on April 20. The term of this urgent project team will be assumed to continue until the end of July, during which the team members shall focus on the team’s task in principle.
 We will proceed with the Green New Deal policies in view of the supplementary budget to be presented in June, while monitoring the national political arena. The project team in charge of this Urgent Project will also be established on April 21.
 In order to summarize all the information regarding national economic and employment measures, I will call a meeting for urgent economy and employment measures.
 At the end of this fiscal year, we will send a message to the national public in relation to prevention of tuberculosis. We are expected to receive requests from a relevant national organization to host the National Tuberculosis Prevention Conference (as tentatively translated) in Tottori Prefecture.

Q. The Yonago City mayoral election is under way now. Are you supporting any particular candidate?

 It’s an election of a local autonomy, so I hesitate to join and support the campaign of any specific candidate.

Q. Are you planning to support or join the campaign of any candidate in the future?

 So far I haven’t received any request for that kind, nor do I anticipate any.

Q. Will you be specific about the conference you are planning to establish in view of the inauguration of the (national) consumer affairs agency?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that Governor Hirai expressed his intention to establish a conference jointly with local municipalities to engage in consumer affairs policy measures,) We will start discussions next week toward the establishment of the conference. We have been requesting that consultation counters of that sort should be set up as a kind of shelter in local municipalities, which are in close contact with residents. This approach is gaining support from most of the local municipalities here.
 I think various kinds of role sharing are possible. For example, in order to back up municipalities, we can promote human resource development or provide consultation service to the municipal staff engaged in the relevant consultation, and especially in the domain where special skills or knowledge are required. In addition, we can assume their consultation duties on holidays. The aim for establishing the conference is for us to have full discussions independently on what kind of consumer consultation and administration will be ideal from the residents’ point of view.

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