Lobbying the National Government

 Yesterday I went to Tokyo with the chairman of the Tottori Prefectural Assembly and representatives of municipal mayors and assemblies in Tottori in order to lobby the national government.  We explained the situation in Tottori Prefecture to national lawmakers particularly with regard to the soaring oil fuel prices, while we made requests to the Fisheries Agency. The agency was flexible enough to express its willingness to take additional measures, which is encouraging. From here on, the prefectural administration will hold dialogues with fishery operators to come up with necessary measures with an eye on how the national government proceeds.  Furthermore, we requested that Tokyo cover the loss caused by the reduction of the Temporary Tax Rate last April. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said that the issue was to be handled by the national government and they would take certain measures. We asked them to be especially cautious about tax allocation so that no budget shortfall should occur on the local governments’ side as a result of the move towards revision of the tax and finance system, including handling of road –related tax revenues or changes to the taxation system in debate, including the consumption tax.  We also visited the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport to express to the minister that the road construction projects such as that of the Sanin Expressway must be included in the national midterm plan, and that the constructions of the route between Mizuho and Aoya and the Iwami Expressway ought to be adopted as official projects in order to forestall delays in the construction of high-speed transportation network in Tottori Prefecture. The minister expressed his view that the said construction projects, if newly launched or adopted officially, need to be discussed by the Panel on Infrastructure Development, and he asked that we wait for the result.

National Governors’ Association

 A meeting of the National Governors’ Association will be held next week. Treatment of the decentralization issue will be one of its focuses.

G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit

 The G8 Toyako Summit has come to a close. I would say this summit has produced concrete results such as reaching the consensus among G8 nations on the goal of reducing CO2 emission by 50% by 2050 and getting the USA involved in the consensus. I have the impression that the framework is in place for the COP15 (the 15th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) to discuss the global warming issue, which will be held in Copenhagen next year with participation of new greenhouse gas polluters such as China and India.  The call for solution of the issue of abduction (of Japanese nationals by North Korea) was stipulated in the declaration by G8 nations, which was a significant result. It must not end up as a mere verbal promise. I want Tokyo to commit to paving the way to the complete resolution of this issue in collaboration with the international community. In this regard, I have deep sympathy for the frustration of the abductees’ families. I hope the national government will take it to heart and engage in relevant negotiations.

Pasturing Rental Goats at the Governor’s Mansion

 Recently, per the suggestion of a young prefectural staff member, we started a project to rent goats in order to dispose of excess grass in farms or mountainous areas. As a demonstrative measure, it was decided that our family keep some of the goats in the Governor’s Mansion for about a week.  There are opinions that we take this good opportunity to show the goats to children. We will take good care of the goats and publicize Tottori Prefecture as a place where environment and agriculture prosper in harmony and one can enjoy a slow-paced life.

Slow Life Academy (as tentatively translated)

 There is a project in the works to open a “Slow Life Academy Forum in Tottori (as tentatively translated)” next August. We will emphasize Tottori's image of a slow-paced life. We will organize relevant events in and around the eastern region of Tottori Prefecture, including Chizu Town and Iwami Town as well as Tottori City, and promote “Tottori, the Prefecture of the Slow Life” nationwide.

Proposal from Tottori Prefectural Information Disclosure Council

 The other day, Tottori prefectural information disclosure council held a discussion and made a proposal in regard to disclosing the results of the national academic achievement test, which is under the jurisdiction of Tottori Prefectural Board of Education. The proposal was contrary to the opinion of the board.  The national government immediately expressed a negative opinion about it, according to some news coverage. However, the information regarding the test results is owned by Tottori Prefecture and managed in accordance with local ordinances. What kind of conclusion the board of education will reach is a matter which remains to be seen. If the board decides on disclosing the results as an independent prefectural measure, the gubernatorial divisions will support it.

Q. You said that you will support the board if it decides on the independent disclosure. What specific support measures do you have in mind?

 The board of education is in charge of the said information management. We will provide technical advice or collaborate with them in the case of various negotiations with the national government, which are likely in the future.

Q. Do you mean technical advice as legal interpretations?

 It takes courage for the board of education to act against the guidelines of the national government. We will support them in interpretations of the ordinances or negotiations with the national government. First, we will wait for the conclusion of the board of education.

Q. What are your thoughts on the council’s proposal itself?

 I think their conclusion is honest and moderate.

Q. In the last press conference, you mentioned regulating the round-the-clock operation of convenience stores in relation to CO2 reduction. How are the relevant deliberations progressing within the prefectural administration?

 As early as next week, we will dispatch our staff to the Japan Franchise Association in order to assess the nationwide situation and how to deal with relevant problems. In addition, we will survey the representative office of each convenience store in Tottori consecutively and seek their opinions.

Q. There is an opinion that not only environmental issues but also other various elements should be taken into account comprehensively. What are your thoughts on this issue?

 I totally agree to it. The enterprises are the relevant parties, so I would like to listen to their opinions first.  This issue has various facets, but there is no doubt that the longer a store is open, the more energy is consumed. On the other hand, the lights in towns have positive effects. When I mentioned this issue last week, what I had in mind was starting out the measure by applying it to some collaborative enterprises, or, “global environment friendly stores” as we call them, and not trying to make all the stores close all together. We need to first assess the situation.

Q. With regard to the broadening project of Ohashi River in Shimane Prefecture, how are the relevant deliberations going on within the Tottori prefectural administration and what are your thoughts on this issue?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that Governor Hirai is supposed to have received requests for opinions from Shimane Prefecture concerning the environmental impact assessment,) As a unique measure in Tottori Prefecture, we established an expert panel, which will evaluate whether the assessment by the opposite side (Shimane Prefecture) is appropriate or not. We will finalize the reply based on local opinions. We are now in the process of thorough scrutiny.

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