Convocation of Prefectural Assembly’s Special Session

 I will convoke the prefectural assembly’s special session on January 29. I will propose the supplementary budget amounting to 14.7 billion yen and the revision of Tottori Prefectural subsidy ordinance for projects including establishment of enterprises.
 The budget of 14.7 billion yen is arranged to be proposed and earmarked for a number of projects. One of them is the creation of about 1,100 jobs. In addition, we decided to apply the carried-over expenses and compiled the budget in expectation of creating about 1000 more employment positions for the new fiscal year.
 We will use this budget and encourage the employment of individuals expected to be actively engaged in currently urgent projects, such as promotion of “the Manga Kingdom Tottori.” Moreover, as extremely austere conditions are anticipated with regard to public investment for the new fiscal year, we will implement the public investment totaling more than 4 billion yen, by accelerating the projects scheduled for the new fiscal year. Although the economy and employment situation remains severe, we will seek and create a frame work in order to overcome it. Also, with regard to the San’in Coast Geopark, the screening is scheduled for as early as the beginning of the new fiscal year (in order to decide if the coast will be admitted into the Global Geopark Network). We will propose necessary budgets for the promotion projects (of the admission).

Meetings of National and Chugoku Region’s Governors’ Associations

 A meeting of the National Governors’ Association was held yesterday. In the meeting, I asserted that the Child Allowance would be a temporary measure and should be revised in the new fiscal year. In relation thereto, some other prefectural governors strongly criticized that the national government is counting on the money of the regions in order to double the amount of the allowance.
 I said that cash benefits as an income redistribution should be implemented by the national government on their own responsibility by rights. As regional administrations, we should make sure we are capable of managing social services and services in kind, since it’s a matter of course that child-rearing won’t be made possible by cash benefits only. We need to take both these two aspects into consideration in negotiating with Tokyo in order to find solutions. Chairman Aso of the National Governors’ Association understood my opinion, and we all reached a consensus that we will prepare ourselves and focus on these notions in the negotiations with the national government.
 The 1.1-trillion-yen increase of the local allocation tax was appreciated by every member of the National Governors’ Association, although some said that it’s not enough.
 With regard to the revision of projects, measures for decentralization are under consideration, such as abolishment of “frameworks and obligations” ( wakuzuke and gimuzuke: national government’s practices to put budgetary limitation to local autonomies’ administrations through uniform legislations nationwide). Unfortunately, however, they are not yet adequate. Cooperation systems should be firmly established among the national and local governments. In the meeting of the governors’ association, I maintained that some structures should be set up for the national and local governments to negotiate separately on each field and item. As the relevant legislation is expected to progress, the National Governors’ Association decided to make necessary requests.
 In regard to the revision of the Local Autonomy Act, various opinions are presented now. I suggested in the governors’ meeting that the old-fashioned system of the board of education should be addressed in this occasion. In response, the National Governors’ Association decided to set up a project team toward the revision of the Local Autonomy Act, in order to prepare ourselves and make requests to the national government.
 In addition, a meeting of the governors' association of the Chugoku Region was held, and the association’s chairman was chosen by the member governors. In this meeting, Governor Yuzaki of Hiroshima Prefecture proposed that we should make joint requests in order to include the Chugoku Jukan Expressway and the Hamada Expressway in the pilot program to waive the expressway tolls.
 In regard thereto, I suggested that not only the Chugoku Jukan Expressway but also the Yonago Expressway and the Okayama Expressway should be mentioned as candidates for the program in the joint requests, and the delayed construction of the San’in Expressway should be packaged in the requests. The governors' association of the Chugoku Region agreed to my idea, and we will prepare and make such joint policy proposals as rapidly as possible.

Child-Rearing Kingdom Tottori Plan

 The Tottori Prefectural administration is promoting “the Child-Rearing Kingdom Tottori Prefecture,” and we drew up “the Plan for Child-Rearing Kingdom Tottori (preliminary draft).” As we will ask for public comment, starting from January 22 until the beginning of next month, we strongly hope to receive opinions from prefectural residents.

School with Unified Lower and Upper Secondary School Program

 I had a talk with President Nose of Tottori University on Monday this week. He told me that, although Tottori University had been working toward establishment of a school with unified lower and upper secondary school program, the establishment was highly unlikely for some time to come, because of the stalled negotiation with the Education Ministry.
 I told him that the prefectural administration had deliberated on the possibility of establishing a school of this type, and asked him if it was OK for us to start a project for the establishment. He told me that there was no problem on their side.
 In order to diversify education for children, it’s necessary to provide parents and children with a variety of options. Although schools with unified lower and upper secondary school program are run by the private sector in the central and western parts of Tottori Prefecture now, there is no such school in the eastern part of Tottori at present. I think that we should seize this occasion and restart full-fledged deliberations on a prefectural school with unified lower and upper secondary school program. I conveyed this idea to the superintendent.

Schedules, etc.

 Today a meeting for the National Tuberculosis Prevention Conference (as tentatively translated) will be held. The conference will be cosponsored by the Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association and Tottori Prefecture and opened from March 18 through 19.
 This weekend, a screening of a movie titled “Yuzuri-ha (a plant associated with a Japanese expression which means “to yield up,”)” will be sponsored by an association of the hearing-impaired, and opened sequentially in eastern, central, and western parts of Tottori Prefecture, in order to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the Japanese Federation of the Deaf. I will attend its opening ceremony.
 Tottori Prefecture is promoting a campaign called “Ai Support (a program to support disabled people)” and is beginning to gain support from corporate sectors at present. On February 1, we will certify the first group of Ai-supporter companies.

Q. The prefecture seized this timing and announced its intention to establish a school with unified lower and upper secondary education. Is the difficulty on Tottori University’s side at the backdrop of this strategy?

 (After the reporter’s questioning whether Governor Hirai intends to establish such a school in the eastern part of Tottori Prefecture,) The prefectural administration was already engaged in negotiations with a view to setting up a prefectural school of this type, in the first place. However, Tottori University expressed their strong intention to establish such a school in the eastern part of Tottori Prefecture on their own. So, we respected their wishes and shifted toward cooperation with their efforts for the said establishment. Unfortunately, the policy change accompanied by the party change of the national government seems to have had a huge impact in certain areas, and the university’s side stated that they no longer had any prospects for opening such a school. If this is the case, in order to meet the will of prefectural residents, we will need to restart full-fledged deliberations for establishment of a school with unified lower and upper secondary school program.
 As this issue involves limitations related to the Local Autonomy Act, it will be thoroughly discussed by the prefectural board of education eventually. It’s a matter of course that the eastern part of the prefecture will be a leading candidate site, I think.

Q. Roughly when do you aim to establish it?

 Although Tottori University intended to open the school in Fiscal 2012, they announced at this timing that it’s highly unlikely now. It’s a bit troublesome, if you ask us. It will depend on how the actual preparations will progress, but “procrastination is the thief of time.” So we should establish it as soon as possible.

Q. So, will you start over from scratch for the deliberations in the new fiscal year?

 Firstly, deliberation should be made on what actual steps to be taken. After that, it might be possible that the budgetary framework in the budget for the new fiscal year will start to be discussed at first, in terms of the research expenses, and so on. I will leave those details to the board of education.

Q. Does it mean that the related research costs and the like are likely to be included in the initial budget for Fiscal 2010?

 I expect the relevant adjustments in that direction.

Q. Do you envision the building and attachment of a junior high school to an existing high school?

 As has often been the case in other prefectures which have worked on establishment of schools with unified lower and upper secondary school programs, it will be a realistic approach to consider existing schools as the bases, I think.

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