Setting Up of No Plastic Bag Campaign.

 Today and tomorrow we will be setting up the No Plastic Bag Campaign in the eastern, central, and western areas of Tottori Prefecture. We will seek participation not only from supermarkets but also from convenience stores, local retailers, dry-cleaning shops, municipal authorities, and even consumers’ groups and the federation of women’s associations.  I hope that we will create opportunities for each business and local residents’ group to form associations that will develop into effective “no plastic bag” movements. Today's full-scale discussion will be the first step toward that end.

Summit Talk between Okayama and Tottori Governors

 Yesterday, we invited Governor Masahiro Ishii and other executives of Okayama Prefecture to Chizu Town in Tottori Prefecture for the first summit talk and administrative discussion of the two prefectures. There have been various kinds of exchanges between the prefectures by assembly members or private sectors. It’s gratifying that we have opened up another channel of dialogues between the two prefectural administrations.  I am convinced that Governor Ishii and I share very similar fundamental ideas with regard to transportation, tourism and industrial promotion. In particular, it’s significant to note that we are on the same wavelength in dealing with the road-related issues under the current austere situation.

Cooperation with Miyazaki Governor

 As the move to shift the road-specific tax revenues into the general budget is gaining momentum with the support of both the ruling parties and the opposition camp, what matters now is how to secure the establishment of the expressway network in the regions where the network is the least established, such as Tottori Prefecture.  I spoke to Miyazaki Governor Higashikokubaru on the telephone and we agreed to collaborate on this issue. We also agreed that we will meet next Monday if possible and appeal for a nationwide campaign to make voices heard from regions where outfitting for the expressway network is overdue.

Fishing Ground Investigation Targeting Squids

 Soaring oil prices are putting the local fishing industry in dire straits. The prefectural administration dispatched the test ship “Daiichi Tottori Maru” in order to conduct a fishing ground investigation. Its results indicate that squids are becoming active earlier than usual.  The fishing industry's expectations for the results of this investigation are becoming more and more pressing. The prefecture is planning to charter a squid-fishing vessel from a private sector in order to carry out a more detailed investigation.  The success of the investigation will allow squid-fishing operators to set out fishing with relative peace of mind, and to reduce the cost of paying high prices for heavy oil.

“Tottori Business Support Network”

 We will enforce the business support network in order to deal with the particular issues of each enterprise concerned. It may be a rare challenge in the national arena, but we would like to launch the movement to utilize local human resources regardless of regional borders.  We are planning to execute agreements with relevant societies of commerce and industry in order to form a new business support network.

Q. You changed your stance regarding the temporary tax rate at the previous Five Governors’ Association meeting. Would you tell me exactly why or what for?

 (After the reporter’s pointing out that Governor Hirai expressed support for the governing coalition’s proposal to revive the temporary tax rate and shift it into the general budget,) The ruling parties and the opposition camp have already agreed on the said shift. It is no longer a good strategy for a region like ours to resist the strong trend to proceed with the shift.   The discussion centers on whether to admit that the shift is in motion or to maintain the use of exclusive road-related funds. The argument of combining the road construction plans and road-specific tax revenue is on the way out. Since there are various opinions among the public, it’s better for us to acknowledge that the shift is inevitable while attaching conditions that the budget for the constructions of road networks, which are delayed in rural regions, and common-use roads, should be secured.   Among the public the tax shift is already beginning to be regarded as an established policy. I think we should take the pragmatic approach and focus on getting what we can.

Q. In the process of the tax shift, there are concerns in regard to how much attention will be paid to the regional disparities. How is the prefecture going to carry out the delayed road constructions?

 The major point is to let the whole nation know that there are particular regions in Japan such as ours, where the establishment of expressway networks has been delayed.  The Association of Five Governors will work in cooperation. Also, I agreed to work with Okayama’s side on issues including expressways such as Tottori Expressway and Hojo-Yubara Expressway jointly and severally. Furthermore, I think that our next strategy is to collaborate with the regions that are on the bottom of the list in terms of expressway construction, such as Miyazaki Prefecture.

Q. In the current situation surrounding the national road construction plan, what’s important to the prefecture is how to secure the budget for the constructions of Tottori Expressway and Sanin Expressway, I think. What’s your perception of the chance?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that the national government has downsized its 10-year road construction plan to a 5-year one,) According to the explanation of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport, if the budget of about 2.6 trillion yen is maintained for ten years, most of the basic main roads including Sanin Expressway will be constructed. However, I’m somewhat skeptical as to whether complete screenings are being carried out in order to determine which roads are necessary and which are not. I have been thinking that the ruling parties and the opposition camp are responsible for discussing it and demanding persistently that deliberation of the budget for road constructions combined with tax rates should be done. However, such deliberation is not proceeding. I must insist that the national government do so.  If the whole nation realizes that the delay of road constructions is causing regional disparities, the stereotyped criticism of “wasting money on rural areas” will be nullified, I think. In order to achieve that, persistent promotion efforts will be necessary.

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