Effects of Expiration of Temporary Tax Rate.

 What worries me now is how the national government will handle the road-related projects. It’s an absolute necessity that the national government deal properly with those projects, including local expressway construction. I’m going to make requests one at a time. I’m planning to bring this appeal to the national government for the projects, and take up this issue at the Association of Five Governors (of Miyagi, Yamagata, Tokushima, Saga, and Tottori Prefectures).  Also, in order to minimize the negative effects in Tottori Prefecture, relevant departments are conducting careful examinations into the projects. According to their latest results, as mush as 17.7 billion yen’s worth of prefectural projects are expected to be suspended from implementation, due to failure to obtain the national government’s approval in the form of subsidies or tax allocation. In addition, about 24 billion yen’s worth of nationally-sponsored projects are suspended in Tottori Prefecture. The prefectural administration is determined to do all we can to cope with this situation. We will maintain the appropriate number of public works by substituting projects of river and sand erosion control and accelerating our independent projects, which will increase the number of projects as of May by about 6% compared with the previous fiscal year. Concurrently with this measure, we will keep a close eye on the development of current deliberations regarding road construction. If we anticipate difficulty in securing the financial resources for road construction in the long term, we may need to revise our plans for May, June and thereafter.  On the other hand, we are ready to make arrangements that the prefectural administration can carry out without the approval of the national government. One example is the bird habitat survey pertaining to Iwami Expressway. We have started discussion to arrange it as our independent project in order to avoid a one-year delay in commencement of construction.  We will use every option available to us to make appeals to the national government concerning the temporary tax rate. At the same time, we will make preparations to monitor the situation so that confusion will be minimized and the local economy will not suffer negative effects.

The Conference of Governors of Japan and South Korea

 I plan to attend the conference of governors of Japan and South Korea on April 10. I expect an opportunity to meet South Korean president Lee Myung Bak and Gangwon-do governor Kim Jinsun, but this cannot be confirmed yet. I will take this opportunity to make appeals regarding Yonago-Seoul flight services, and realization of ship service across the Sea of Japan, to the appropriate parties.

Deliberation of Human Rights Protection Ordinance (and Children’s Rights)

 Since the establishment of consultation counters for civil liberties in April, three cases have been brought to our attention so far. We will move on to deliberation regarding the human rights protection ordinance in light of the current situation. One case I'm particularly concerned about is the claim for human rights protection with regard to the Tottori Prefectural School for the Blind brought to the Human Rights Protection Committee of Tottori Bar Association.  Similar issues involving children’s rights have arisen recently, and the Tottori Bar Association has been calling for the need to negotiate ordinances to protect children’s rights. The prefectural administration is prepared to join and support the Bar Association’s deliberation on this issue. I’m going to put the General Affairs Department Director in contact with the Bar Association today.  There are various human rights issues of concern in addition to this case. We will make a quiet inquiry into the overall human rights issue and review the points brought up in the investigation committee within the prefectural administration.

Countermeasures Against Soaring Oil Fuel Prices for Fishing Industry.

 I’m concerned about the possibility of damages to fishery operators in connection with oil prices. As is also the case with gasoline prices, speculation on heavy oil is rising, which is expected to further propel the price hike. As a result, many fishermen are refraining from operations.  I have just ordered the relevant departments draw up urgent measures in response to voices from the fishing industry. The national government is planning to set up a fund of 10.2 billion yen and take countermeasures against soaring oil fuel prices for the fishing industry. I think the prefectural administration must take our own additional measures in conjunction with this national scheme.

Q. You are scheduled to visit South Korea from April 9. If you get opportunities to have talks with Governor Kim Jinsun and President Lee Myung Bak, what are you going to ask them for ?

(After being asked by the reporter to be specific about the service of ships across the Sea of Japan) I’m going to ask them to join our efforts toward prosperous coexistence in the areas surrounding the Sea of Japan through this new ship service. I think it will be very helpful in terms of the utilitarian Japan-South Korea relationship pursued by the President Lee Myung Bak, and the realization of the East Asia economic bloc promoted by Governor Kim Jinsun. The South Korean side has its own concerns, but I will convey to them how significant the ship service is and ask for their support. Also, I would like to exchange opinions with Governor Kim Jinsun on the promotion of exchange on the municipal level.

Q. Let me ask about your petition in Tokyo to the national government about road construction. Do you have any detailed plans about what to appeal for?

 First, I’m planning to take our own case to the national government independently. Also, our efforts to obtain cooperation from other parties are beginning to direct us to discussing the matters in the Association of Five Governors and making relevant appeals. I don’t think this issue will at all be solved by the end of April, but will probably develop over a relatively long time span. I’m determined to find an amicable system to make joint proposals continuously.   In addition, we need to insist that Tottori is a special region where the expressway network is the least established. One of the main points is how the national government, the ruling coalition and the opposition camp are intending to deal with this issue.  Furthermore, I’m going to make appeals for maintaining the full amount of Local Allocation Tax and taking appropriate measures for commerce and industry.

Q. Is it possible that the results of the joint study with the bar association will become the draft of prefectural ordinances?

 It’s impossible that the opinions adopted in the study will be the draft of ordinances in their current form. We will join the study as a countermeasure in response to the case of the Tottori Prefectural School for the Blind and to the requests put forth by the Bar Association.

Q. When do you think will be the right time to decide whether the bird habitat survey concerning Iwami Expressway should be implemented as a prefecture’s independent project?

 Today I have dispatched the Department of Land Management Director to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. I’m going to make a decision based on the discussion there. It will be most regrettable if we miss the window of opportunity and the commencement of work is delayed for a whole year. The project cost will probably be about 5 million yen, which is available within our budget.

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