Earthquake in Haiti

 There has been a huge earthquake in Haiti. The earthquake with a magnitude of about 7 claimed several thousand lives. According to some news reports, the country’s infrastructure is on the verge of shutting down. I’d like to offer my deepest condolences.

Prefectural Assembly’s Special Session

 While the austere economic and employment situations continue, the National Diet is scheduled to be convoked on January 18. Since the beginning of this year, each section of Tottori Prefectural administration has been compiling economic and employment measures, which are likely to be completed in most parts.
 I will convoke the prefectural assembly’s special session on January 29, in order to implement appropriate measures as soon as possible. Furthermore, in addition to the supplementary budget to be presented in February and the initial budget for fiscal 2010, we will lay out comprehensive boosting measures for economy and employment.
 Although the specific details are still under preparation, we will hold an urgent meeting of the task force for employment and economy, next week on January 19 in order to move toward the final compilation. We are now aiming to propose the creation of about 1,000 job openings in the assembly’s special session scheduled to be convoked. We intend to add additional positions in the initial budget.
 To that end, we will explore the possibility of utilizing our funds or increasing public investment. With regard to direct employment through the funds, we will plan out small-scale cumulative measures, such as the establishment of promotion systems for “Manga Kingdom Tottori,” or improving the employment situation for female doctors.
 In relation to the issue of the San’in Coast Geopark, we will propose the budget for installation of guide plates in the supplementary budget to be presented in January. Additionally, with regard to the biofrontier projects, we will commence the designing for establishment of facilities in Tottori University Faculty of Medicine. Furthermore, we are planning to repair public facilities, such as roads and bridges.
 By adding up all these projects, we estimated that we could compile the supplementary budget amounting to about 10 billion yen, and decided to convoke the prefectural assembly’s special session on January 29, in order to implement the economic and employment measures ahead of time.

Compilation of Initial Budget for Fiscal 2010

The compilation of the initial budget is under way now and we are applying ourselves closely to planning various measures toward the new fiscal year. Some specific directions need to be made immediately.
 Regarding the academic achievement test, for example, the national government decided to adopt the sampling style only for the test, as stated in their initial budget compilation. However, it’s necessary for the schools to fully grasp the real situation surrounding children in our prefecture. Considering the improvement of academic abilities as the issue to be prioritized, there are doubts about whether a complete test is unnecessary.
 I ordered the prefectural board of education to have a thorough discussion with municipalities. If schools are excluded from the sampling and plan to conduct an academic achievement test (on their own for their students), using the exam questions made by the national government, Tottori Prefectural administration is ready to bear all the costs, since the prefecture has conducted our own academic achievement test in the past. It’s a reflection of our hope that municipalities will devote themselves to supporting children’s growth in school.
 As for other issues, high schools for students with special needs are not adequately established in Tottori Prefecture. I heard from the board of education that more and more parents are calling for establishment of special institutions to offer education to children with relatively mild disabilities, who are capable of getting a job and working immediately (upon graduation). We will begin relevant surveys for the timely establishment of an institution of this kind. The compilation of the initial budget is under way now, and I will soon start assessment of this measure in budgetary terms.

Schedules, etc.

 Starting from January 16, the Daegwallyeong Snow Flower Festival will be held in Gangwon province, South Korea. For the purpose of promoting “Manga Kingdom Tottori” and publicizing our candidacy to host the International Manga Summit, Tottori Prefecture will participate in the snow flower festival and display the snow statue of “Detective Conan.”
 Today, we will receive a delegation of judo athletes from Russia. Next week, as part of the promotion measures for tourism in the central region (of Tottori Prefecture) and Food Capital (Tottori), the cheering squad for “Gyukotsu Ramen (a ramen noodle featuring a beef bone broth)” will be formed, and I will attend its opening event in Kotoura Town (in Tottori Prefecture).
 Other various events are also under way. It’s fortunate that we have nice snowy conditions now. I have high hopes that our prefecture will enjoy a good turnout of holiday makers in ski resorts and the like.

Q. Regarding the special-needs high school, by the expression “timely establishment,” did you mean to say that you will conduct the surveys with a view to establishing such a school?

 With a view to establishing it, we will survey budgetary aspects of the establishment.

Q. Will the surveys begin in the new fiscal year?

 That’s right. It will involve assessments, designing, and so on. Utilization of existing school houses will be one of the important options, I think. I expect the prefectural board of education to organize and deliberate this issue in detail.

Q. Where are you planning to construct it?

 Specific deliberation will be made in the days ahead.

Q. In the event that an academic achievement test is conducted with the participation of all schools in Tottori Prefecture, if the national government doesn’t compile the data on the scores, will the prefectural administration conduct the compilation?

 The way of compiling the data will need to be discussed with municipalities or the national government.

Q. On the assumption that you will use the exam questions made by the Education Ministry, will the expenses for the compilation be included in the initial budget, as well as the ones for the implementation of the test?

 I will leave decisions on handling these matters to the prefectural board of education.

Q. There were discussions regarding whether to disclose the results of the academic achievement test. Do you expect that the aforementioned test will also be subject to disclosure?

 On this point, as the scheme on the national government’s side is quite different from the traditional one, discussions will need to be held between the municipal and prefectural boards of education in order to sort out the issue.

Q. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications is moving toward the drastic revision of the Local Autonomy Act. What’s your take on it?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that the MIC is planning to allow local assembly members to be appointed to the position of vice governor or to top executive of administrative sections during their tenure, through the revision,) The said revision of the Local Autonomy Act is intended to allow each autonomy to make its own decisions. I also think that it’s aimed at small municipalities.
 There are pros and cons, however, in the United States, where this system is already established. At certain points in history, it was pointed out that certain figures who had the authority to choose candidates in the assembly had too much clout and dominated the local administration behind the scenes. And in the course of the reform movement against it, the dual representation system like the one in Japan has come to be adopted. So there are both advantages and disadvantages in the initiative mentioned above.
 There are some doubts about whether it will be appropriate for prefectures like Tottori, but the policy to consider it as an option will follow the trend of local autonomy.

Q. Concerning the Kansai extended association, will you be specific about the changes, if any, in Tottori Prefecture’s stance or other aspects against it?

 (After the reporter’s asserting that Govenor Hirai should confirm Tottori Prefecture’s policy against the regional government system and comment on the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s policy directed toward emphasizing concrete fundamental situations,) With regard to the regional government system, nationwide discussions are necessary in the first place. The discussions regarding the said system should be held on the premise that Kasumigaseki (Japan’s national bureaucracy) will be dissolved and their power and authority will be transferred to local governments.
 Realistically speaking, cooperation beyond prefectural borders is possible in many ways, such as in widening of economic zones, or medical administration, in the case of Tottori Prefecture.
 In consideration thereto, collaboration should be seen as a realistic option. I understand that the discussion on the system of the extended association itself is being held in terms of such collaboration. It should be deliberated separately from the argument about the regional government system.

Q. Regarding the voting rights for foreigners with permanent resident status, how do you perceive the current move as a prefectural governor?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that the Hatoyama Administration decided the other day to submit a bill to legislate the grant of the said rights, that there are arguments both for and against the legislation, and that there are various opinions on the interpretation of the Constitution in relation to this issue,) Since this issue concerns the Public Offices Election Act, it’s necessary for both the ruling and the opposition parties to engage themselves in through discussions. Full-fledged debates are expected to begin, so I will monitor the development.

Q. At this point, are you for it or against it?

 I think it’s acceptable. Various opinions of residents should be reflected in the way administrative services will be conducted. It’s related to the rights of naturalized citizens in some aspects. On the regional level, however, I think it’s within the jurisdiction of the legislative side to decide to what extent the rights regarding daily administrative services will be granted.

Copyright(C) 2006~ 鳥取県(Tottori Prefectural Government) All Rights Reserved. 法人番号 7000020310000