Second Vote for Tax-Related Bills.

 We were busy yesterday with the second vote for the temporary tax rate and other issues. It’s gratifying to see that a solution to the revenue shortfall is in sight. I insist that the discussion between the ruling coalition and the opposite camp be normalized as soon as possible in order to draw up a basic scheme which will not cause any inconvenience to any regions and their residents.

Hometown Tax Payment.

 Yesterday, by the votes on tax reform bills, the hometown tax payment plan was approved. I will appeal to the people nationwide to support Tottori Prefecture. We have various ideas in the works, which we would like to test, such as running campaigns when people with ties to Tottori come back here during the summer holidays.

Jobs-to-Applicants Ratio.

 It’s shocking that the jobs-to-applicants ratio dipped below 0.7. However, it’s inevitable considering the major bankruptcy cases in March. Today a meeting with the Treasurer in charge is planned in order to exchange ideas between relevant departments. In consideration of the immediate employment issues, something like a caravan campaign might be necessary in order to seek support from local enterprises. We have decided to discuss the possibilities of such a scheme in cooperation with the national Hello Work.

Measures to Prevent Suicides

 A series of suicides using hydrogen sulfide have been reported nationwide. It cannot be denied that there have been such cases involving the toxic gas in the Sanin Region (Tottori and Shimane Prefectures). We have decided to send out an urgent message before the Golden Week Holidays in May in order to prevent suicides, in cooperation with relevant organizations. I strongly urge those who have a death wish to consult people around you and listen to what they have to say.  In the prefectural administration, we have the Bureau of Health and Welfare in the Regional Offices, departments handling mental health issues, and Counseling Center for Consumers’ Affairs. I also recommend contacting “Inochi no Denwa (Life Line)” in Tottori for that matter. We will send out messages that help is available in collaboration with relevant organizations, by posting the appeals on the prefecture’s homepage or passing out leaflets, for example.

Logo for Campaign to Designate Mt. Mitokusan as a World Heritage Site

 A logo was designed mainly by the staff of Citizens’ Information Bureau in the Central Regional Office. It will be put on name cards and envelopes. They also designed a guiding leaflet to introduce Mt. Mitokusan. The prefecture will use these promotion materials and support the Tottori residents’ dream of Mt. Mitokusan’s World Heritage Site recognition.  This logo is available for free use by anyone. Its design is open to the public and can be downloaded from our homepage. If you request Citizens’ Information Bureau of Central Regional Office, its original picture will be provided to you, which service I recommend to you.

Q. The Complaint Review Committee failed to be established at the same time as the commencement of the new health insurance program for 75 and older. What are your thoughts on this matter?

 I apologize to the residents in Tottori for the procedural delays. Now the committee is in place, but there are a lot of points to reflect on. I’m determined to urge the relevant departments to accept responsibility, make a close investigation into the cause for delay, and make sure such event will never occur again. I suspect that there was lack of determination and job consciousness within the administration.

Q. The jobs-to-applicants ratio, which stood at 0,7 last year, has declined to 0,68 now, despite of your efforts over the past year. What do you think are the main causes?

 I believe we have done what should have been done. However, the said rate has gone down compared with last year all across the Chugoku Region (Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Shimane and Tottori Prefectures). I attribute it mainly to the issues regarding sub-prime loans, strong yen, and soaring commodity prices, including those of crude oil, which have made the overall economic conditions very unclear.  We have taken various measures, which have begun to bear fruit just recently, such as firm location or plant integration plans in Tottoti Prefecture by some enterprises amid the current austere business environment. However, the business conditions are harsh and our efforts are far from satisfactory. We are determined to mobilize all our strengths and resources and enhance local vitality by joining efforts with organizations of commerce and industry and other relevant parties.

Q. Yesterday it was decided that the temporary tax rate was to be reenacted, and the suspension of road-related projects’ budget has been released. When will the related bidding procedures begin specifically?

 The prefecture’s independent projects have already been released, so the said procedures will be carried out as usual. With regard to the nationally subsidized projects, we will start the procedures to place advertisement for bids as soon as the national government gives unofficial approval.

Q. I would like to ask about the nationally sponsored expressway construction projects. What’s your forecast on them and are you feeling any need to appeal to the national government regarding this issue?

 ( After the reporter’s mentioning that the previous day, Prime Minister Fukuda said the road-specific tax will be maintained for fiscal 2008 until it’s shifted to the general budget use from fiscal 2009, and that there is a actual shortfall for one month in the budgets of both national and local governments,) We cannot be completely happy about it. It is a fact that there was a revenue shortfall of 180 billion yen as of April in both national and local governments. Under the current situation, it’s doubtful that the national government intends to make up for it, even by issuing deficit bonds. Accordingly, if the national government gives priority to subsidies or tax allocation to local governments, the budget for nationally sponsored projects will be reduced. That could affect the constructions of Sanin Expressway and Tottori Expressway.  Yesterday I ordered the relevant departments to allocate our budget to those projects and make appeals for the national sponsorship once again. Now I feel the need to make these efforts and make it clear that these expressways are necessary in our region.

Q. Let me ask about Himeji-Tottori Line. Are you intending to open it up as scheduled?

 Yes, I have every intention to. We are determined to continue our campaign and connect the line with Tottori Expressway as scheduled, but it depends on how the discussion surrounding the shift of road-specific tax will develop and how much amount of the budget will be allocated from the national government.

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