Request to the National Government

 The new national administration is finally working toward the budget compilation. I’m concerned that they might bite off more than they can chew in terms of eking out financial resources. I hope it won’t affect the regions.
 We had a heated discussion about this point in a meeting of the governors' association of the Chugoku Region held the other day. The issue of the Child Allowance was representative. I appreciate Prime Minister Hatoyama’s statement that Tokyo will bear the whole responsibility for the measure since it is a pledge of the national government. However, it’s a fact that this issue generated a heated debate. Yesterday when we put requests to some key figures in Tokyo, we made them aware of our concerns on the regional side.
 We asked Transport Minister Maehara to make sure that the primary transport network such as the San’in Expressway will be constructed. As for the San’in Expressway, we have been waiting in line for the project’s completion. We told him that the construction of the expressway is highly cost-effective by national standards, in light of the data.
 We asked Education Minister Kawabata to make separate and specific considerations for the progress of the bio-frontier project, whose preparation is under way in the Yonago campus of Tottori University’s Faculty of Medicine. And we talked with Mr. Nagahama, Senior Vice-Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare about the issues such as the new-type flu and the local allocation tax. Various arrangements will be made within the national government. I very much hope that they will have consideration for the regional point of view.
 I also had a talk with Mr. Nakai, Minister of State for the Abduction Issue. Since he was soon to visit South Korea, I urged him to try and solve the abduction issue with the help of the international community. It was 32 years ago yesterday on October 21 that Ms. Kyoko Matsumoto (who was born and residing in Tottori) was abducted (to North Korea). I made a strong case that her mother is very old now and she must see her daughter soon. Minister Nakai seems to have an intention to attend to the requests of the association of the abductees’ families and the like. He promised that Tokyo will tackle this issue actively on the frontline. He also promised to issue an order in the meeting of the prefectural police chiefs for full-ledged investigations into the cases of the missing Japanese potentially connected to North Korea all across the police networks. I feel we were able to urge the national government to further their efforts on the abduction issue.

Schedule, etc.

 Next week, we will hold a “Food Capital Tottori Prefecture” promotion campaign in New York. In connection with this, we will meet Japan’s UN Ambassador Takasu. I will petition him to try and seek to resolve the abduction issue in the settings in the UN.
 On October 28, we will invite local chefs, buyers, and news media to the ambassador’s residence in New York and promote the attractive food culture and foodstuffs of Tottori Prefecture. We will ask enterprises across the prefecture to contribute their products and showcase Tottori Prefecture’s food culture and traditions. From October 29 through the beginning of November, we will test-market Tottori’s foods in a large shopping center near New York. We are preparing separate plans, such as business negotiation fairs with buyers, or visits on local businesses with the companies in the related fields. I will participate in these events.
 This weekend, we will hold a symposium on relocation with the Tottori Junior Chamber, Inc. Today I will visit Chizu Town in order to meet and exchange ideas with people who actually moved into Tottori.
 Regarding environment issues, the new national administration addressed this important problem and announced its resolve to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25%. We also need to tackle this issue as a prefectural administration. The other day, we drew up the Green New Deal Plan. In accordance with this, we are determined to commence efforts such as the courting of industry, including eco cars and solar energy generation, for example.
 Furthermore, since it’s important to launch environment movements with the participation of all parties, including prefectural residents, we will hold a promotion conference for the No Plastic Bag campaign in the central part of Tottori Prefecture. All relevant parties from the eastern, central, and western regions of the prefecture will attend this conference, in which we will solicit businesses which will participate in the No Plastic Bag campaign in the next fiscal year. We hope to gain support from a wide range of parties, and further promote this campaign into an across-the-prefecture movement, if possible. We will try various kinds of approaches for this movement in order to realize the eco-friendly Tottori Prefecture, which suits the prefecture’s style.

Q. Regarding the bio-frontier project, can you give specific details about the request you made using the phrase “separate and specific considerations”?

 I told Education Minister Kawabata that, among the projects planned by organizations affiliated with the Education Ministry and facing expected downscaling according to the proposed revision of the supplementary budget, there are a number of necessary projects across the nation. In the case of Tottori Prefecture, the project is aimed at realizing speedy drug development by planting human genes into mice, which is a research development that is drawing the attention of drug manufacturers all over the world. Tottori Prefecture is planning to use this “lever” in order to enter into the bio-frontier field for the first time. The important preparatory project for this challenge is included in the projects facing downscaling. That’s what I told him.
 Minister Kawabata used the expression, “I will keep that in mind.” I believe he recognized that a very important research project is among the projects to be downsized. Although it seems unlikely that the full original amount will be secured, we need to have a good discussion with Tottori University and seek for a realistic compromise.

Q. Some lawmakers of the governing parties including Upper House member Kawakami of Tottori Prefecture established a study group for the road network construction. How do you perceive this development from the regional side?

 (After the reporter’s recognizing that this group is composed of the lawmakers of the prefectures in similar circumstances,) In light of democracy, various opinions should be proposed, and it’s necessary to put together regional policy concerns on the national scale and exert efforts for them, so I have a high expectation for the newly established study group.
 Of course, local autonomies are expected to exert the same efforts. Since lots of other prefectures share the same circumstances, in which the primary expressways are yet to be constructed, I hope we will conduct various surveys and deliberations in mutual collaboration with these prefectures in the future and propose policies to the national government.
 Transport Minister Maehara said that he is willing to have discussions if such policy proposals are made. Targeting the period after November, we are determined to lay out the framework and take action.

Q. Yesterday you spent the whole day making requests to Tokyo. Did you perceive any difference, compared with the requests you had made until last year?

 Yesterday morning, I invited national lawmakers of Tottori Prefecture on both the ruling and opposing parties’ sides and held a study meeting. I was persuaded beyond any doubt that the policymaking style has changed.
 Yesterday I made the requests with the prefectural assembly’s chairman and municipal parties concerned and I felt that the ministers and vice ministers in the national government are willing to have discussions with other lawmakers. Previously, each of the bureau chiefs on our side visited the relevant ministries and made requests. From now on, however, instead of such a request style, local governments and the national government will have direct talks in order to make policies. That’s the emerging sign of the times I felt this time.
 At this rate, the request activities in the year-end might undergo a great deal of change. It used to be the case that a large delegation visited each ministry and made requests at the end of year, but we can no longer expect a conclusion to be reached no matter how many times we visit the ministries. So we need to rethink our strategies there. As in the case of the road construction mentioned now, we will need to device a request style in which we will propose policies jointly with other regions in question.

Q. The new national administration announced their intention to adopt the spot check style in the national academic achievement test. What do you think of the effectiveness of the spot check?

 I’m not sure if the spot check will be sufficiently effective for the purpose of teaching children.

Q. If the spot check style is adopted, are you willing to budget the complete academic test across the prefecture if the prefectural board of education wishes to conduct it?

 I’m willing to hold talks. However, in consideration of the efficiency, it should be one option to request the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to let us use their examination problems as they are, for example. There is also a monetary issue. We will discuss it with prefectural and municipal boards of education to reach a conclusion.

Q. Vaccination for the new-type flu has begun. The way of handling seems to vary depending on medical institutions. Would you say the vaccination program is going smoothly?

 We have set up a new project team and are engaged in active arrangements with relevant organizations. At the initial stage, we received far more requests for vaccination than we expected. This situation will soon be solved and adjusted. From now on, the vaccines will gradually be distributed by the national government to groups other than medical institutions. Tottori Prefecture’s administration has actively petitioned Tokyo for permission to take flexible measures. And we are ready to draw up the measures.
 I think it will be necessary to pass on vaccines to each other within a larger framework so that students who are scheduled to take the national university entrance examination, for example, can be vaccinated at a reasonably early juncture. We will conduct the relevant measures while monitoring how the vaccination program proceeds in practical terms.

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