National Budget Compilation

 The budget compilation by the national government is entering the final stage. The decisions regarding the details of the tax systems or the measures for local government finance are far more delayed than usual, and the process of the compilation is still unclear to us.
 A welcoming fact is the media report that the local tax allocation amounting to about 16,900 billion yen is likely to be secured for the next fiscal year. In addition, the bonds for the extraordinary financial measures reaching 7.7 trillion yen have been approved. It will give local governments a considerably more elbowroom in the area of finance than in the past, which can be taken as a sign that the regional sovereignty has come to life.
 However, I’m sorry to admit that the bonds for the extraordinary financial measures, implemented by debt issuance, have been increased by more than 2 trillion yen in order to procure this amount of 7.7 trillion yen, which will pass the burdens on to the local autonomies in the future generations. Although it’s far from a perfect measure for local government finance, this matter is about to be settled by it this time, so it can’t be avoided. But the concern does remain, I think. With regard to next fiscal years, I hope that Tokyo will conduct local finance measures on a cash basis.
 With regard to the Child Allowance, it’s been reported that Health, Labour and Welfare Minister Nagatsuma, Internal Affairs Minister Haraguchi, Finance Minister Fujii, and Deputy Prime Minister Kan reached an agreement yesterday. According to the report, the Child Allowance will total 13,000 yen (per child on a monthly basis), taking over the current child allowance, and local governments will bear the amount equivalent to the current allowance.
 At the beginning of the budget compilation, the Democratic Party of Japan announced their resolve to abide by their manifesto, which regarded it as a matter of course to cover the allowance completely by the national budget, so this agreement is nothing but a backdown. I’m a bit disappointed by it. In order to solve this issue fundamentally, it’s indispensible to have a thorough discussion together with the national public. The regional side should also engage in this discussion without trying to sidestep the issue. The Hatoyama administration has to engage itself in an open and square debate about this very pressing issue.

Measures against New-Type Flu

 The new-type flu is about to pass the peak nationwide. In Tottori Prefecture, however, the peak season started later than in other prefectures, and the epidemic is still lingering.
 Mass vaccination for third-year high school students is planned on December 2 in the eastern, central, and western parts of Tottori Prefecture. As for third-year junior high students, who will soon take the entrance examination to high schools, we are making arrangements to conduct mass vaccination for them in or around the end of next January.
 In regard to ronin students (students who failed the entrance examinations of the universities of their choice and are seeking another chance), who have been a concern, we are exploring the possibility of arranging mass vaccination as early as the end of next January.
 In any case, we will proceed with the measures in due consideration of the situation in the prefecture. As the year-end and new-year holidays will soon begin, we will hold a meeting of the task force on the new-type flu tomorrow in order to assess the current situation.

Investigation and Guidance to Social Welfare Corporation “Asunaro-kai”

 Asunaro-kai misappropriated their funds by offering loans to and conducting bypass loans for a company, which has drawn rapid attention. The welfare corporation submitted their report for operational improvement the other day, which we are handling and examining in accordance with the official procedures now.
 This is a truly regrettable incident and we need to try and prevent reoccurrence. The development of this issue made me think that the administrative side needs to establish some kind of a system to keep these sorts of incidents from happening.
 For example, we are thinking of establishing a system in the prefecture under which not only internal staff members but also appropriate external parties, such as certified public accountants or tax accountants will engage in the auditing. There are also legal stipulations which require us, the administrative sector, to audit social welfare corporations once every two years on a regular basis. It’s necessary to deal with this kind of issue from the perspective of expertise in accounting practices.
 It’s urgent that we set up a study committee within the prefectural administration which deliberates how to manage the auditing of social welfare corporations, in order to prevent reoccurrence of this sort of incident. We are planning to bring experts in accounting practices on board in order to start discussions on how to proceed with the auditing.
 We will appoint the committee members before the end of this year, if possible, and request that they should begin reviewing this matter from multiple angles so that the results will be reflected in auditing social welfare corporations and so on, in future fiscal years. We need to reflect deeply on the fact that we may have failed to detect misconduct by the traditional ways of handling, and adjust our method accordingly.

Schedule, etc.

 In consideration of the very austere economic climate these days, we will set up comprehensive consultation counters for livelihood, economy and loan measures on December 29 and 30 in eastern, central and western parts of Tottori Prefecture. People who need assistance are strongly encouraged to visit the counter.
 As of now, we think it’s necessary for the prefecture to hire about 30 temporary staff members as an urgent and direct employment measure. We are also planning to employ about 50 people for various administrative services in addition to training the personnel in the nursing care sector. In expectation of employing around 25 people as a result of this training measure, we are planning to secure more than 100 job positions in the urgent employ measure.
 With regard to residential issues, we can offer 13 houses as of now. We are allocating resources and preparing ourselves now to offer public housing to the people who come to visit us for consultation during the year-end and new-year holidays, provided that the people will prove to meet the requirements through our screening.
 I hope from the bottom of my heart that the residents in Tottori Prefecture will enjoy peaceful year-end holidays and have a happy New Year. Let me express my heart-felt gratitude for your kind cooperation this year.

Q. About how many members are you planning to bring on board for the study committee? And are we to understand that you are planning to institutionalize an auditing system with certified tax accountants on board?

 (After the reporter’s questioning whether Governor Hirai intends to appoint the tax accountants and the like as members of the study committee on the auditing of social welfare corporations and establish a system to audit the social welfare corporations subsidized by Tottori Prefecture) That’s our ultimate goal, but consistency with related laws will remain as the last hurdle. However, I think we will be able take certain measures, in the form of our own guidelines, or in combination with subsidy systems.
 We will hold the study committee in order to discuss such matters and see what kinds of measures are legally possible. The committee will probably be composed of less than 10 members.

Q. According to (the national government’s) policies, the temporary tax rates will be maintained and local governments will need to shoulder an increased amount of financial burden for the Child Allowance. How do you perceive these two decisions?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that some argue these decisions will violate the manifesto of the DPJ,) I expressed my view on the Child Allowance a couple of minutes ago. As for the temporary tax rates, I’m relieved. In the case of Tottori Prefecture, the tax rates will apply to the light-oil delivery tax, which occupies a large portion of the tax revenues. The precious tax resources have escaped from being abolished in a flash. However, this is not exactly a solution, but more of a postponement.
 The temporary tax rates are potentially liable to criticisms by the national public to a large degree. The members of the Democratic Party of Japan should have compiled their manifesto with sufficient consideration for financial resources in conducting the election campaign. The national governing parties should fulfill their obligations of accountability to the public.

Q. Looking back on the past year, what sort of reflections do you have?

 Since assuming the office, I’ve had the dream of making Tottori Prefecture the main entrance to the (Asian) Continent, in consideration of the vicinity. I’ve believed that it would be the only driving force to uplift Tottori Prefecture, an area struggling with regional disparities.
 In that sense, it will be greatly significant toward the future that the Yonago-Seoul flight services have been relaunched, and that the long-waited ship service of DBS Cruise Ferry has started operation.
 The three-way ruling coalition government has been formed mainly by the Democratic Party of Japan, with participation of the People’s New Party and the Social Democratic Party. As indicative of this, the national public expressed their discontent with the traditional politics this year, I think. As the one in charge of the (prefectural) administration, I reaffirmed my determination this year to accept this sentiment with humility and steer the administration in the right direction.

Q. What is your take on the improvement work of the Ohashi River?

 Although I was asked to present opinions to Shimane Prefecture, my answer was more directed not to Shimane Prefecture but to the future residents in the San’in Regional Area (composed of Shimane and Tottori Prefectures).
 I think that the two prefectures have entered the stage in which we should join hands, exchange frank opinions, and implement measures for the Hii River water system, or management of Lake Nakaumi in terms of water quality and so on. With a view to the new era of Tottori and Shimane Prefectures, I will organize and strengthen cooperative ties with Governor Mizoguchi of Shimane Prefecture.
 As an example, I’m planning to promote the member of our staff who is now dispatched in Shimane Prefecture’s government as a deputy director to the Labor and Commerce Department Director of Tottori Prefecture as of January 1(, 2010). This is intended to assign a staff member who is familiar with the administrative system, mood, and actual situation of Shimane Prefecture to the central position in the industrial policies of Tottori Prefecture. As there are originally no borders between the two prefectures in the San’in Region in terms of industrial policies, I expect this staff to engage in the work from a broad perspective.
 In addition, I suggested to Governor Mizuguchi that the two prefectures exchange staff members in the field of environment at the level of section chiefs. We will try and lay out various cooperative ties of this kind.

Q. Upper House member Tamura (of Tottori Prefecture) left the Liberal Democratic Party. What is your reaction?

 I was surprised by it. I take it as a sign that the political arena has probably become fluid as a whole. I haven’t heard from him about what kind of actions he is going to take. No matter what action he may take, he is a National Diet member of Tottori Prefecture, and I hope and expect that he will continue to play a key role as a supporter of our prefectural administration.

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