Yonago-Seoul flight services.

Yesterday marked the beginning of Fiscal year 2008, and we are off a fresh start with Tottori’s Jisedai-Kaikaku (New Generation Reform) heralding a new era.   Last fiscal year was full of issues of concern, not the least of which was that of the Yonago-Seoul flight services. We have had the assistance and support of the people of the Sanin Region up to March 31, which has had a positive effect on this issue. Thanks to their efforts, the amount of urgent subsidies for services to Asiana Airlines will be as small as \5292000. The final converted seat occupancy rate (contemplated rate for the subsidies) was 67.8%, just short of the 70 percent upper limit for the subsidies. I’m grateful to everyone concerned.  The reopening of exchange with Gangwon-do in South Korea is expected to begin bearing fruit at the official level with mutual dispatch of staff. On April 4, a Korean professional golf tournament will open at Mt. Daisen. I’m planning to attend its award ceremony.  With the aim of taking advantage of these developments to promote the use of Yonago-Seoul flight services, a meeting is planned with the vice governor in charge in order to sum up the measures for improving the seat occupancy of the said flight services and develop the next strategies.

Establishment of Tottori Prefectural Hello Work.

There are several points regarding the national Hello Work which I would like to see the national labor administration review. Employment policies should be designed with consideration to disadvantaged regions such as Tottori Prefecture, in order to close the regional disparity in employment; however, two national Hello Work offices in our prefecture have been closed as a result of Administrative Reform.  However, we have been able to open the Tottori Prefectural Furusato (“hometown”) Hello Work yesterday, which provides more productive and further expanded consultation services, in collaboration with the Tottori Labor Bureau and the municipal authorities. It is still in the trial stage and some problems are anticipated. We will continue to seek support from the national government.

Expiration of Temporary Tax Rate.

The issue of the temporary tax rate is one of our biggest challenges now. I can’t help feeling irritated by the fact that the Upper House has yet to hold a thorough discussion with regard to this issue. As a result, deliberations on local taxation have come to a halt, which stalls the debates regarding the bills to amend Local Allocation Tax Law.  I will ask both the governing and opposition parties to devote themselves to discussion from now on in order to avoid shortfalls in finance. In addition, Tottori Prefecture now has a chance to benefit from highway improvement, and I will ask the national government to understand the regional particularity in dealing with this issue.  I’m also worried that road-related projects are suspended to a large degree. The unofficial announcement from the national government didn’t include the budget for express way-related projects, such as San-in Express Way, or Tottori Express Way, which have yet to commence. The result itself is still not satisfactory.  I think that the prefectural administration needs to proceed with our independent projects as originally planned, while keeping an eye on how the deliberation will develop in the Diet, considering how the local economy will be affected. Furthermore, we will make our best efforts to be proactive about the expenses carried over from the previous fiscal year and implement public-project contracts regarding rivers, sand erosion control, and other public concerns.  However, the effects are already beginning to emerge. In particular is the possibility that the opening of the Tottori Express Way could be delayed. That’s what the situation surrounding the announcement indicates. We are ready to start the investigations for the Iwami Express Way, but the approval of the national government has been suspended. Depending on the circumstances, the whole project might be delayed for one year. That’s why I’m feeling an urgent need to request the national government to tentatively approve the necessary budget for implementing the said projects as planned.  If you ask me, the Gasoline Extravaganza has left regional disparity in the lurch. The current development of discussion led by the opposing parties in the national political arena is turning a blind eye on how the projects should be implemented. They should shift the discussion to a more realistic channel. This is another point about which I intend to make an urgent complaint to the national government.  There are complaints among gas merchants that the temporary tax rate will reportedly be revived in one month and such confusion is very annoying for them. I’m expecting the increase in the number of inquiries about the urgent measures for the affected businesses. The prefectural administration is prepared to inform them of the relevant measures at the consultation counters set up yesterday as the key stations.

Counter services, etc.

As new fiscal year started on April 1, the consultation counters for civil liberties issues were set up in order to improve services for the local residents and the hours for issuing passports were extended to 6:30 pm. Applications for passports are accepted at the main office of the prefectural administration on Sundays. Also, starting on April 6, some application documents to the prefectural administration will be accepted at the general reception as one-stop service.

Q. Let me ask you about road construction following the expiration of the temporary tax rate. Will the prefecture’s independent projects be implemented as planned?

 The national government has been suspending more projects than expected. In order to contain the impact to a moderate level, and lessen the abrupt changes, we will implement the prefecture’s independent projects in April consisting mainly of minor constructions  ordered to local constructors as originally planned.

Q. Do you intend to tentatively implement the independent projects in April, while monitoring whether the temporary tax rate will be reenacted in or after May?

 Yes, I do. We will prioritize these projects in the process. On the other hand, I’m prepared to ask the national government to implement all the projects as planned.

Q. You told us that the projects regarding the Iwami Express Way might be delayed for one year. Will you be more specific about it?

 The construction of Iwami Express Way requires environmental investigations, which are not included in the national government's unofficial announcement. If the environmental investigations into the surrounding natural environment are not possible at this period, the whole project will be delayed for one year.

Q. Isn’t it possible that the opening of the Tottori Express Way, which is scheduled to be in 2009, will be delayed?

 At the current stage, I can’t help saying yes.

Q. How long can you wait federal approval and still open the Tottori Express Way in 2009 as planned?

 If the temporary tax rate is reenacted in May at the earliest, and the tax revenue returns to its previous level, the impacts may be minimized. It’s necessary to discuss and reestablish the tax system once again. The proceedings should include discussions of public finance.

Q. You are scheduled to visit South Korea and meet South Korean President. What are you going to talk about with him?

 I want to talk with him about the service of cargo-passengers ships across the Sea of Japan, which we are planning right now, and appeal to him to help us realize it. The businesses in Pohang, the hometown of the president, are involved in this project, which is encouraging.

Q. Sakaiminato City is also planning to appeal to the president for implementation, especially regarding the purchase of ships. What in particular are you planning to bring to the president's attention?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that the project is delayed due to the foreign exchange fluctuation, which is pushing up the purchasing price of the ships) I want to appeal to him to support the project indirectly by regarding it as part of his national policies. The eastern coastal area, a part of which is the president’s hometown, happens to be struggling with regional disparities similar to our own. I want to convey to him that the service of the ships is essential to prosperous coexistence in regions surrounding the Sea of Japan.

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