61st National Tuberculosis Prevention Conference

 The opening of the Stop Tuberculosis Tottori Conference was graced with the presence of Her Imperial Highness Princess Akishino. I hope and expect that it was a memorable journey for her.

Prefectural Assembly’s February Session

 The prefectural assembly’s February session ended last week, and the initial budget amounting to 334.5 billion yen was approved. Based on this budget, we will create about 4,100 job positions. With regard to the urgently needed economic and employment measures worth 47 billion yen, we will prepare ourselves as the prefectural administration in order to implement them at the beginning of the new fiscal year.
 This budget was compiled with the Great Exchange Era and environmental concerns in mind, and we look forward to the future fruits of our efforts as they take root in Tottori Prefecture and the San’in Region.

Opening of Tottori Expressway

 The Tottori Expressway will be opened this weekend. On March 28, the commemorative ceremony will be held at the Tottori University of Environmental Studies in the morning and the opening ceremony held in the afternoon at Sayo Town in Hyogo Prefecture with the participation of the governors of Okayama and Hyogo Prefectures.

Launching of Business in Yonago by Nano-Optonics Energy, Inc.

 As a result of continued negotiations with Nano-Optonics Energy, Inc., a firm boasting leading-edge environmental technologies, an agreement was reached to hold a ceremony on March 29 in Yonago City (in Western Tottori) to announce the commencement of their business operation there.
 According to the plan, they will take over and use the Yonago Plant of JT (Japan Tobacco, Inc.), which will soon be closed, in order to manufacture electric cars. Mr. Hiroshi Fujiwara, the company’s representative director, is planned to announce the details of the new production system. Mr. Fujiwara is also invited to the Tottori Prefecture Economic Growth Strategy Forum (as tentatively translated), which we will hold on the same day.
 We are also negotiating with them about the possibility of their hiring the employees of the JT’s plant, but the whole picture of this issue is not yet clear.

Schedule, etc.

 The lights in the prefectural governor’s office in our government building are scheduled to be replaced with LED-type bulbs on March 26. On March 30, we are planning to start operating the solar energy generation system installed next to the second office building of our prefectural government, which is capable of generating 60,000 kilowatts per year.
 On March 29, we will work on preparatory measures for the promotion of the International Manga Summit and Manga Kingdom Tottori. We have additional plans for the launching of the promotional conference for Manga Kingdom Tottori. The director-general of the South Korean office of the International Manga Summit is also scheduled to attend the March 29 conference.
 From the Japanese office of the International Manga Summit, public relations director Mr. Tateno and several manga artists are planned to attend the meeting. The final adjustment is under way now.

Q. Regarding the production and development of electric cars and the signing ceremony, when did the prefecture start to approach them, what were the purposes, and how has it been developing?

 We have been engaged in negotiations since last year.
 With a view to transforming the industrial structures, we intend to establish a core base within the prefecture. We were able to join (the joint research project of) SIM-Drive Corporation at the end of last year, which was one of the main reasons. Since Nano-Optonics Energy, Inc. is a shareholder of SIM-Drive Corporation, we take it that the two companies will share their technologies from now on.

Q. Do you think that the skills of JT’s employees will be applicable to the work in the new plant? Will you be specific about the contents of the negotiations?

 We think that JT should continue to employ as many of their current workers as they can, so as to spare any and all of the workers as much grief as possible. We believe that JT’s side is exerting their best efforts to absorb the workforce by conducting job transfers or assigning the workers to remaining tasks.
 Apart from these efforts, we think it advisable that the new company (Nano-Optonics Energy, Inc) take over and hire some of the workers from JT. I hope and expect that the companies will deliberate this matter from all possible angles.

Q. What do you expect from Nano-Optonics Energy, Inc., and what are the advantages of attracting the company to Tottori Prefecture?

 The industrial structures will be greatly transformed, and so will the forms that the vehicles take. I hope that parts manufacturers in Tottori Prefecture will seize the opportunity presented by this trend, which we think is a great one.
 If the production of electric cars begins in this area, it’s possible as a matter of course that companies in Tottori Prefecture will win related contracts, and, above all, we will all have chances to keep up with new technologies and participate in the leading cases, which we think are considerable advantages.

Q. What kind of expectation do you have for the opening of the Tottori Expressway? And how are you planning to deal with the anticipated “straw phenomenon” and the like?

 We have been waiting patiently for (the opening of) this road. The San’in Region has been closed to the Sanyo and the Kinki Regions for too long. We take this opening of the Tottori Expressway as one big breakthrough to change these relations.
 With the arrival of the Great Exchange Era, many people will come and go (from Tottori Prefecture). In order to look on the bright side of it, it will be necessary to attract businesses to Tottori Prefecture, try and create more appealing city centers, and promote tourist spots as a network.
 As one of our strategies, we are thinking of going deep into the Kansai Region to attract visitors for round tours and the like, in line with the Great Exchange Era. That’s one of the advantages we expect.
 As seen in the establishment of the new automobile manufacturing plant we mentioned, there is no doubt that it will be easier to establish businesses in Tottori Prefecture. Now is the time and we will start campaigns and ask businesses, “Why don’t you set up shop in Tottori Prefecture, right on the edge of the Kansai Region?” We think it will also be possible to make the most of the proximity in order to encourage U, J and I turns (popular migration and resettlement), purchase of second homes, and the like.

Q. The proposal to reduce the number of the prefectural assembly seats was rejected. What do you make of this?

 I hope that the assembly members will frankly admit the fact that the prefectural residents are considerably interested in the number of the assembly seats and the way the prefectural assembly should be. In terms of the way the discussion proceeded, instead of discussing the number of seats itself, the session got mixed up in procedural debates and technicalities right up to the end, which is unfortunate.
I hope that the assembly members will focus their attention on the core issues once again and have a deeper discussion on such issues as the number of the assembly seats, and how to enhance and streamline the functions of the assembly.

Q. The mayoral election of Tottori City is turning into a proxy war of the LDP and the New Komeito versus the bloc of the DPJ, the Social Democratic Party, and the Communist Party. What’s your take on it?

 Since this is an opportunity for the city residents to make a crucial choice, I hope they will give solemn consideration to the matters including policies and partisan issues.
 All I hope the city residents will do is consider how to evaluate the record of the incumbent mayor, or how to judge other policy choices against that record, in casting their votes.

Q. DBS Cruise Ferry ended fiscal year 2009 with a loss of 600 million yen. Was the loss more than you anticipated?

 We were anticipating a certain level of deficit in the initial stage; that is, in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd years. That’s why the South Korean side had laid out such a generous support system. We also expressed our intention to continue subsidizing the ship service for 3 years, as we thought it would be difficult or impossible for DBS to turn a profit from the ship service by any means in the initial stage.
 However, they are required to improve their results by leaps and bounds during this period. While organizing the system for that purpose, we are determined to open the door to the Japan Sea Rim exchange through the DBS Cruise ship service.

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