Nihon no Matsuri 2009 Tottori

 “Nihon no Matsuri (Festivals of Japan) 2009 Tottori” was held during the last holiday period. We received the support of quite a number of people, including Her Imperial Highness Takamado, visitors from other prefectures and foreign countries, more than 3700 performers who appeared on stage, and more than 200 volunteers. I would like to express my gratitude to them.
 In the festival, we enjoyed a turnout of 133000 people, which is far more than we expected. I’m now pleased to see that the participants and spectators left the venue with a sense of satisfaction.
 In the coming weekend, the National Manyo Festival will be held in Kokufu Town, Tottori City. This project commemorates a poem composed 1250 years ago by Otomo no Yakamochi (who is famous as one of the key figures) of Manyo-shu (the oldest anthology of “tanka”in Japan). We are conducting a campaign in the hope of encouraging people all over Japan to participate in the project.

Budget Compilation by the National Government

 Recently, a large-scale supplementary budget amounting to more than 14 billion yen has been approved by the prefectural assembly. Based on this supplementary budget, we will work on reviving the regional economy and livelihood. One of my great concerns is the fact that the national government is reviewing the supplementary budget while proceeding with the compilation of the initial budget based on the budget requests for which the deadline is today. Tottori Prefecture’s administration wants to implement the items included in the supplementary budget, so I hope Tokyo will proceed with their task without imposing any strain on localities.
 With regard to vaccination against the new-type flu, the Health Minister abruptly stated that the national government will pay only 50 percent of the cost for the households in receipt of welfare benefits, and that the rest of the cost must be borne by each region. It seems to have been decided. I raised a considerable protest against it in the National Governors' Association.
 Furthermore, Tokyo seems to be attempting similar approaches for the Child Allowance. It seemed to me that the Democratic Party of Japan demonstrated their intention to manage the Child Allowance within the national financial resources in their campaign, but they suddenly began to ask the regions to bear the burden for the reasons on Tokyo’s side. It’s really a shame. We need to monitor the development carefully.
 In regard to the discussions not only of the financial resources but also of the scale, the Finance Minister says that the fiscal resources for the (current) child allowance could serve as the standard (of the Child Allowance), but the amount of the current child allowance in Tottori Prefecture is about 4 billion yen per year and one fourth of it is borne by the prefecture and municipalities each. However, the said Child Allowance will reach the amount of 27 billion yen in scale. If the standard applied to the ratio of amount to be disbursed for the said allowance, we would have to shoulder a tremendous financial burden. I’m a bit taken aback, feeling like the national public ordered a dish of a grilled eel, and a raw pit viper was served to bite us.
  Furthermore, concerning the measures against hepatitis (liver inflammation), I hear that the burdens imposed on regions are being considered as a precondition (for actual implementation). I say that the health ministry, in particular, should try to avoid easy dependence on regional finance resources. From the beginning, the Hatoyama administration has been moving forward under the slogan of “debureaucratization.” I’m all for it, and so are lots and lots of local governments, probably. However, the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare has been habitually dependent on the Ministry of Finance, repeatedly swallowing whatever the Ministry says, and passed the burdens to regions. Even in the new administration, this nasty practice hasn’t been abolished. The minister should exercise leadership. At this rate, nothing has changed from the past, or it has even got worse in some aspects. Top-down centralism still remains in the administration of health, labor, and welfare. The regions and the national government have to discuss it calmly and rationally.
 As for local taxes, (the national government and) the prefectural governors who have expertise in local taxes and the like have to put their heads together to come up with realistic ideas.
 It’s just the beginning now. The national government seems willing to have discussions with the regional side. That’s what I strongly hope.

Review of Projects by Urgent Project Team

 The national government is working on reviewing policies. We will collect information regarding the situation and hold the 2nd strategic conference for dealing with the budgets proposed by the new national administration. We will also have discussions toward the compilation of our initial budget.
 In order to make an independent reexamination of our projects, we will set up an urgent project team within our administration, as we did for DBS Cruise Ferry and green new deal policies, and try to complete the process in about one month. It’s aimed at reviewing the projects through the lens of a third party across sectional boundaries.
 Some autonomies adopt the method of sorting out operations. At first, we will start it out by mobilizing the staff within our administration. Then we will urgently reexamine the projects while asking the members of the study meeting for regional sovereignty to supervise the process from outside the administration. As the prospect of the finance resources is extremely unclear, we, the prefectural administration, will further press ahead with the initiative to eliminate wastefulness and irrationality.

Schedule, etc.

 We are preparing with local municipalities to make requests to the national government next week. As of now, we have started examining the possibility of making requests to the Diet members of Tottori Prefecture, and each Ministry.
 As a meeting of the governors' association of the Chugoku Region is scheduled for next Tuesday, I hope to exchange ideas about the common issues shared among the prefectures of the Chugoku Region, such as the way to deal with the recent budget issue. As the representative of Tottori Prefecture, I’d like to propose discussion of issues surrounding the new-type swine flu.
 As for events, Tokyo International Film Festival will be held on October 21, next week.
We will seize this opportunity and hold a campaign in Roppongi, Tokyo, which I’m planning to join, in order to promote both the film Giniro no ame (Silver Rain; a film on which the locations were done in and around Tottori Prefecture), which will be released soon, and Tottori Prefecture.
 This weekend, some events will be held in Kurayoshi City, including KAMIakari and a number of others. I encourage the prefectural residents to make the most of the cheerful autumn.
 With regard to the preservation of Old Okazaki House, it’s truly gratifying that a civilian organization was able to buy it up. I think that we should go on promoting regional construction while supporting enormous efforts of people in the private sector like this. I expect this example to be the model case.

Q. About the urgent project team for reviewing the projects, will they work on checking and reexamining the projects scheduled in this fiscal year?

 Their task is considered as a preparatory work for the compilation of the initial budget. Tomorrow, in addition to the initial budget requests, we will check a number of projects conducted by each division and make sure there is no wastefulness or irrationality in them.
 We will have young personnel, and the staff members in charge of the organizational affairs, finance, and planning on the team to sort out operations. They will review the projects and deliberate the possibilities of cancelling or integrating them with other projects. In the process, we will make arrangements for the outside study group members to express their opinions in order to approach the review task from a third party’s viewpoint, as opposed to the traditional reviewing process for projects, which tended to be led by the division in charge.

Q. What’s the aim of actively involving young personnel in the team?

 Managerial staff tend toward following the same steps of the previous years with less consciousnesses of potential problems. Young personnel at the working level are very conscious of wastefulness and irrationality. We will mobilize the working-level staff actively and engage them in streamlining the prefectural administration.

Q. Accounting irregularities worth 25 million yen have been revealed in the prefectural administration. Will you be specific about how you will handle these irregularities as a governor who has employed the slogan of compliance?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that some of the irregularities appeared during Governor Hirai’s administration, although most of them should be blamed on the administration of his predecessor, Governor Katayama, and questioning how Governor Hirai intends to restore the trust of prefectural residents in the future,) I think the irregularities are shameful and regrettable. We need to prevent their reoccurrence in order to earn the trust of the prefectural residents. I will order the relevant divisions in charge to review the accounts in order to clarify the problems. And based on the results, we will need to deliberate fundamental improvement measures for the future all together.
 In any case, the organizational structure for the compliance needs to be built up once again. I also feel a serious need to reestablish measures for the checking system in accounting.

Q. Improper purchases of goods have all occurred in the cases where the Central Processing Division was not involved. Do you have any plan to consider structural countermeasures?

 (After the reporter’s referring to the possibilities of conducting all purchases of goods through the Central Processing Division or lowering a little further the price standard of goods on which the Central Processing Division should place orders, as the examples of the countermeasures,) I issued an order for reexamination in order to check points such as those you mentioned.

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