Visit to South Korea.

 Last week I paid an official visit to South Korea and had a talk with South Korean President Lee Myung Bak. And I asked the president and Gangwon-do Governor Kim Jinsun for their cooperation with regard to the new ship service. I feel that the response from both of them was positive.
 The Korean private sector is putting a great deal of effort into establishing the ship service itself, and we need to keep a close eye on how this develops and make continued appeals to the appropriate parties.

Road-Specific Tax Revenue.

 I’m going to Tokyo tomorrow to discuss the issues of the road-related tax revenue at the Association of Five Governors in their 40s (of Miyagi, Yamagata, Tokushima, Saga and Tottori). We five governors are in agreement that the results of this talk should be reflected in the message we send to the public. For example, we might want to take up issues concerning projects that have been prevented from being implemented and forgotten, such as tax allocation projects funded by the Automobile Weight Tax.

Effects of Soaring Crude Oil Prices on the Fishing Industry.

 The effect of oil prices on the fishing industry has been considerable. The fishing ground condition is so unclear that some fishermen are refraining from operation. We have been discussing ways in which we can help conduct an examination of the fishing ground and supply results to the fisheries cooperative (in order to raise profitability of fishing operations). A plan to launch such investigations, which the fishing industry is urgently demanding, is in the works.

Deliberation on Redevelopment of Tottori Station’s North Wing.

 I’m planning to set up a new committee this week in collaboration with Tottori City in order to discuss the issues involving Tottori Station’s North Wing. We will look into what sort of improvements ought to be made.

The Meeting with Okayama Governor.

 I’m going to have a summit talk with the Okayama governor on April 23 at Chizu Town. I hope we will exchange opinions regarding the road-related issues, and how we can cooperate on the economic front such as supporting promotion of products.

Q. Will you be a bit more specific about the talks with the president and Governor Kim regarding the issue of the ship service and your impression about the talks?

 Governor Kim Jinsun told me that he was ready to lend us his full support for the realization of the project. However, he also expressed concerns about the profitability of the service. The president urged Governor Kim that the possibility for launching the service was at least worth deliberating.

Q. Will you mention specific support measures, if any, that the South Korean Government could take with regard to the ship service of DBS Cruise Ferry?

 The private sector should bear all the responsibilities in the long run. In South Korea, the national government’s inclinations have a larger impact on the private sector’s willingness to pursue projects than in Japan. The declared support from the South Korean government in itself will give momentum to the realization of the service.  DBS Cruise Ferry implored Tottori Prefecture to make appeals to Gangwon-do Governor Kim Jinsun and the South Korean government, which we certainly did this time. DBS Cruise Ferry is very contented with the results of our talks and I believe they have contributed to developing good conditions for the launching of the ship service.

Q. On the Japanese side, you said that you initiated the “port sales (a promotion campaign for the ship service)”. Can you provide more details about that?

 We have already visited some transportation and automobile companies for the exposition. We are also in the process of selecting other automotive companies and other large enterprises and making rounds for promotion..

Q. I hear that Tottori Prefecture is seeking to collaborate with other prefectures such as Miyazaki and Wakayama, which are in similar situations, regarding the Road-Specific Tax Revenue. How is it developing?

 In Tottori Prefecture, the constructions of roads to be covered as nationally-sponsored projects are delayed compared with many other prefectures, which is left out of the scheme completely. This is sure to be discussed at the association of Five Governors. In addition to that, I’m ready to join efforts with other prefectures which share the same sense of crisis and consensus.

Q. Let me ask about the cargo of the ship service. What items are the main targets?

 Automobile parts are one potential target, and we are making wide-scale inquiries into the potential of other items as well.  Sakai Port (in Tottori Prefecture) happens to be included in the service route, so the local business communities should take advantage of the opportunity provided by the ship service. I would like the business circles in and around the Sakai Port to set up a committee, in which we would like to participate. We are already starting out projects to open up trade with regions with which we haven’t had such active trade relationships, such as Russia. I think that around after the Golden Week Holidays in May, the local business communities will move toward some concrete action.

Q. Let me ask about the new health care insurance program for those 75 and older. Today the premium begins to be deducted from the relevant citizens’ pensions. Is the prefecture considering subsidizing the citizens at the prefecture’s expense?

 (After the reporter’s indicating that eight other prefectures have made such decisions) The national government has established a unified system for it and each prefecture is sharing its financial burden. There is an established proportion of sharing the financial burden among national, prefectural and municipal authorities, based on which the program is supposed to be managed. Too much shock to the public finance system will lead to confusion regarding proportionate shares of the burden among the parties concerned, and abstruse means of calculating insurance premiums in the future..

Q. Returning to the issue of the dispute over the health care program for the aged, considering the issues involving the primary doctor care system, there are concerns that chaos seems inevitable.

 The program has just started and there are a number of questions unanswered. I suggested to the national government that proper consideration be given when new premium charges arise. I will continue to pursue this issue with the national government and bring attention to the points at issue.

Q. Some of the citizens in question have yet to receive new insurance cards. What are your thoughts on this issue?

 It’s a new system and there are various problems due to inexperience. It’s regrettable that the relevant procedures are delayed nationwide, but the national government should be held accountable for the merits and issues inherent in introducing a new insurance system.

Q. The failure to reenact the temporary tax rate by a second vote may have a huge impact. Is the prefectural administration considering any countermeasures?

 If the temporary tax rate is not reenacted, we will have no other choice but to revise the various parts of our budget, including a drastic cut in the number of projects, according to our simulation.

Q. Am I correct in understanding that your approach has resulted in the realization of the meeting of Okayama and Tottori Governors? And what are you going to ask the Okayama Governor for, in particular?

 Governor Ishii (of Okayama) sat next to me at the National Governors’ Association meeting. When I proposed that we talk together about all these various problems, he said that we certainly should.  That’s how the meeting was set. I was the one who initiated it, but I’m sure that we went into the meeting on the same wavelength.  Regarding the road–related issues, the Okayama side and the Sanin side (Shimane and Tottori Prefectures) are both facing the possibility of a large decline in the road construction budget. We are confronting common problems. The constructions of Hojo-Yubara Expressway and Tottori Expressway are closely related to the road-related revenues. I would like to discuss their promotion with him.

Q. Hojo-Yubara Expressway and Tottori Expressway are both extremely important top priorities on Tottori’s side, but it might not be the case on Okayama’s. Isn’t there some discrepancy in perception of this common issue between the two sides?

 I would like to exchange frank opinions with the governor. Being connected with Sanin-Region will be beneficial to Okayama Prefecture and the Sanyo side (the southern side of Chugoku Region in Japan) both economically and socially. I hope I can convince him that this is the case.

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