Ordinary Local Allocation Tax in Fiscal 2009

 The amount of the Ordinary Local Allocation Tax for Fiscal 2009 was finalized. It seems Tottori Prefecture secured an amount slightly below the national average. However, the proportion of the said allocation tax in our whole prefectural revenue is so small. In fact, compared with last fiscal year, the increase-decrease rate of the said allocation tax to Tottori Prefecture posted a terrible minus figure and the amount of the bonds for the extraordinary financial measures doubled. We are seeing the results of our more and more unhealthy financial structure.
 It’s a welcoming fact that we could secure the general revenue, but it’s true that the tax and finance systems involving both the national and the local governments need to be reconstructed. The general election is just about to kick off, with the manifestos held up. I hope they (political parties) will have thorough discussions about decentralization which will address the financial situation of each local government.

Remuneration for Adm. Committee and Retirement Allowances for Pref. Officials

 In the National Governors’ Association’s meeting held in Mie Prefecture, we exchanged opinions about the need for us, local governments, to express our resolve to proceed with the administrative and financial reform in each of our administrations.
 One of the meeting’s focal topics was the issue of the remuneration for administrative committee members. The expert panel for the salaries of the public servants in special service within our prefectural administration is beginning vigorous discussions toward the revision (of the salary system). The revision of related ordinances will need to be deliberated in the near future.
 In addition, we discussed the abolition of retirement allowances for parachuted officials. Unlike other prefectures, Tottori Prefecture is free from the practice known as parachuting. However, if any prefectural staff who retires and receives retirement allowance is guaranteed to receive the allowance later again (from another company or organization), it’s possible that prefectural residents will feel uneasy about it. Although Tottori Prefecture’s system is different (from the parachuting system), ours has some similar aspects, I should say. That’s why we are planning to urge the companies or organizations which will employ our retired staff to refrain from paying them the retirement allowance.

Increasing Quota of Faculty of Medicine (of Tottori University)

In order to address the shortage of doctors, Tokyo announced its policies with regard to the increase of the quota of faculties of medicine of national universities. In response, we are negotiating with Tottori University to get them to increase the quota of their faculty of medicine by 5 persons. We and they have reached a broad agreement, under which Tottori Prefecture will offer scholarship for the increase. We are also contacting universities in other prefectures in order to negotiate similar measures for an increase of a few students.

Ship Service across Sea of Japan

 The 14th Summit for International Exchange and Cooperation of Regional Governments in Northeast Asia was held the other day. In relation to the ship service across the Sea of Japan, Primorsky Krai of Russia, Gangwon Province of South Korea, and Tottori Prefecture agreed that all three parties will establish a conference for the purpose of promoting trade and tourism in collaboration with private sectors.
 In order to realize the agreement, we will aim for the creation of a system to take over the function of a matchmaker in terms of trade and tourism information, which is currently conducted by our project team for the promotion of the ship service across the Sea of Japan, in cooperation with Gangwon Province and Primorsky Krai. We are envisioning the establishment of “the Japan Sea Rim Trade and Tourism Information Center,” so to speak.
 I proposed this plan to Governor Kim Jinsun of Gangwon Province and Governor Sergey Darkin of Primorsky Krai and neither of them expressed any particular negative opinions about it. The detail of this plan will be discussed in July by working level staff, and in September at the governors’ level. I hope the plan will proceed in the discussion.

Schedule, etc.

 Today we will execute an agreement with Coca-Cola West Daisen Products Co., Ltd. on the extension of their storage house and production lines of drinking water. We will utilize this opportunity for job security.
 On August 1, we will launch a campaign against cancer of the large intestine. This type of cancer can be cured completely, if detected early, and the patients can enjoy a reasonable quality of life as Ostomates (people who have undergone an ostomy, which refers to the surgically created opening in the body for the discharge of body wastes) or otherwise. We are hoping to disseminate this kind of information widely to the prefectural residents.
 It’s been decided that the runway of Yonago Airport, which is under construction to be extended to 2,500 meters, will be put into service on December 17. The Ministry of Land , Infrastructure and Transport has put enormous efforts into this project and Tottori Prefecture has conducted various related projects in cooperation with Sakaiminato and Yonago Cities, as local governments, such as maintenance and improvement of prefectural roads. I’m extremely delighted to see that the project will actually be completed. The runway will be a symbol of the Japan Sea Rim Great Exchange Era.
 In order to commemorate the service launch, we have entered into the final adjustment period for the plan to fly chartered planes. More specifically, places such as Moscow, Mumbai, Honolulu, and Anchorage will be the destinations for non-stop flights. We aim to fly the first chartered plane to Hawaii immediately after the service launch of the runway in December.

Q. Regarding the said request not to pay retirement allowance to the retired prefectural staff, do you intend to make it binding and enforceable?

 It’s difficult to make it legally binding and enforceable. The employers have the right to make the final decision on the working terms (of the former prefectural officials they will hire). The prefectural administration will strongly urge the employers to consider the will of the prefectural residents about the retired prefectural staff who already received a retirement allowance from the prefecture.

Q. Do you plan to disclose the information regarding whether or not the employers have paid retirement allowance (to the former prefectural staff) in order to remove prefectural residents’ doubts?

 Although there is the issue of employers’ bylaws, I think we should disclose the information if possible, while seeking understanding from the employers.

Q. How does the parachutists’ not receiving retirement allowance relate to the administrative and financial reform?

 Quite a number of employers (of the parachutists) have received subsidies from the prefecture, or funds through the prefecture. In a broad sense, eradication of the double payment of retirement allowances will have certain effects on the administrative and financial reform.

Q. The runway of Yonago Airport will be extended to 2,500 meters, which will allow bigger planes with a longer flight range to use Yonago Airport. What advantage will Tottori Prefecture gain from it?

 The extension of the runway will have positive effects for countermeasures against snow and cold weather because the braking distance of airplanes will be prolonged and the number of flight cancellations will be reduced. Planes can load more fuel and fly a longer flight range (from Yonago Airport), so we will first encourage chartered flights. In the future, regular long flight services will be possible.

Q. After scanning the manifesto of the Democratic Party of Japan, what’s your impression of it?

 A related debate forum is scheduled for August 7 and I’m making adjustments to participate in it. There are a number of things I would like to ask about before evaluating their manifesto.
 Separately from their manifesto itself, there are papers which describe their policies for each item. It’s a bit difficult to see how to read them. In spite of the difficulty, I found that the manifesto clearly advocates local sovereignty, which I highly regard.
 However, although it clearly sets forth the abolishment of the government treasury charge, it doesn’t mention what alternative tax resources will be secured for us. The Democratic Party of Japan has an intention to refrain from discussing whether the consumption tax rate should be raised or not. So their manifesto contains some limitations that concern me.
 I can highly respect the manifesto’s promise to abolish the government treasury charge with some strings attached into the lump-sum subsidies. But then, how much will the lump-sum subsidies amount to? On the other hand, as the measures to secure revenues, they promise to reduce unnecessary subsidies and projects in order to cut as much as 5 trillion yen (from the expenditure). As in the case of the Trinity Reform (regarding fiscal relations between the national and local governments, initiated by Prime Minister Koizumi), it’s possible that the local revenue sources will be taken away under the good name of local sovereignty. I will examine the real intentions of the Democratic Party of Japan.

Q. Tottori City reached an agreement with the Tottori Prefectural Police on its Demonstrational Town Planning Project for Prosperous Downtown Tottori and the experiment will be scheduled for September. What are your thoughts on this?

 There are things to be regulated and also things to be deregulated. I hope they will have frank discussions and reach a final decision. It’s gratifying that the experiment scheduled for September is likely to be realized.

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