Earthquake in China's Sichuan Province

 I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families in the earthquake in Sichuan province. Having seen our own prefecture go through the Western Tottori Earthquake, we in the administration are willing to do anything we can to be of help.

Measures to Prevent the Outbreak of Bird Flu

 Swan deaths have been discovered at Lake Towada in Aomori Prefecture, and in Hokkaido. Analyses have revealed the cause of the deaths turned out to be the highly pathogenic bird flu, which could develop into new types of influenza in the future.  By way of caution, we examined all the chicken farms in Tottori Prefecture and found no problems. We also discussed precautionary measures with local farmers and chicken producers and decided to take proactive measures to prevent the outbreak of an epidemic. We would like to let the national public know that chicken farming in Tottori Prefecture is free of concerns.

Measures against New Types of Flu

 A case of bird-to-human transmission of bird flu has just been reported in South Korea. We are no strangers to new types of influenza, and our prefectural administration is taking proactive measures against new types of flu and drawing up a manual. We will discuss the manual in tomorrow's new flu strain countermeasure meeting, and put it to use on a trial basis. We are also planning to conduct drills based on the manual in order to perfect the provisions therein.

Road-Related Budget

 Yesterday the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport made an unofficial announcement regarding special grants for local road improvement and subsidies. The amount we receive per these grants is 9.2 billion yen, which is a little more than 1 billion yen less than the amount we requested; however, the amount of subsidies provided to us is nearly 1 billion yen more than the amount we asked for. The national government gave more consideration to road construction projects in Tottori Prefecture than we had expected.  With regard to the remaining issues, we will still make requests to the national government for additional funding for the nationally sponsored projects and for approvals for newly planned projects.

Connection with the Kinki Region

 A meeting of the Kinki Bloc Governors’ Association is scheduled in June. Tottori Prefecture is soon to be connected with the Kinki Region via the transportation arteries of Tottori Expressway and Higashihama-Igumi Road. In order for Tottori Prefecture to be popularly recognized as part of Greater Kinki, I’m asking for the membership in the Kinki Bloc Governors’ Association.  In addition, I’m suggesting to Chizu Express Co. Ltd, that its headquarters be relocated from Tottori City to Chizu Town in order to conduct more region-oriented business management, enhance its railroad function, and create and develop the pipelines between Tottori and the Kinki Region.

Q. The road-related turmoil has come to a close. What’s your impression in retrospect?

 I want the national lawmakers to reflect upon how this issue developed. National politics were conducted in a highly inefficient manner.  The final unofficial announcements have been made, which could be regarded as a milestone, and I have the impression that what we has requested have been understood and accepted to a significant degree. In particular, we are fully satisfied with the unofficial announcement made yesterday with regard to the budget for local road construction. The efforts we have been making have produced some results.  I want to welcome the fact that a national consensus has been reached about the need to secure the budget for local road construction projects. However, the real theme to be dealt with from now on is how the expressway network should be established under the auspices of the national government and how the nationwide strategy can be drawn up in order to address the issues involving the regions in which the expressway network is the least established and which are struggling with regional disparities. This remains one of the crucial challenges facing the Sanin Region.  Now that the turmoil is behind us, we would like to focus on doing what we can at a steady rate, such as construction of Tottori Expressway’s Kawabara Inter Line, and realizing the wishes of the local residents one issue at a time. We will also collaborate with other regions to make relevant appeals on a nationwide scale.

Q. In order to tackle the issue of the road construction, will you resort to your previous tactics, such as collaborating with other governors and insisting on its importance, or do you have any other plans to make appeals?

 It’s essential to make appeals jointly with other regions where road construction is delayed. Relentless efforts are necessary. Furthermore, conventional as it may be, I think it’s necessary to make appeals to national lawmakers in both the ruling coalition and the opposition camp and the national government. I’m sure we are not alone in this matter.

Q. Let me ask about the recent earthquake in China. What do you think will be the incidental impact on the local economy, businesses and livelihoods in Tottori Prefecture?

 Frankly speaking, this is unknown territory. However, various Japanese companies including those in the automotive industry are based in the region hit by the earthquake, so it’s undeniable that the earthquake could have economic impacts on businesses in Tottori Prefecture.

Q. What concrete advantages are there in your joining the Kinki Bloc Governors’ Association?

 From an economic perspective, I’m expecting to promote matchmaking between companies and participate in projects for tourism development by joining the association.  Considering the road network, our connection with the Kinki Region follows the natural course of history. I think we need to foster our intention of regional efforts to make the most of this tie as well as a spirit of unity with the Kinki Region.

Q. How is the plan of the ship service across the Sea of Japan developing?

 There has been no significant progress since last week. However, funds are beginning to flow for the reorganization of the consortium. I hear that concrete preparation for its launching is proceeding, including acquisition of vessels and so on. Having said that, it’s not in the final stage yet, so we are just watching its development with high hopes.

Q. (A junior high student’s question) What do you intend to do first in order to promote ecological friendliness all across Tottori Prefecture and prevent global warming?

 We will work to reduce consumption of plastic bags as much as possible. We will also promote electric power generation using windmills and solar batteries in order to reduce carbon dioxide emission. I would like you all to discuss this issue at home and at school.

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