Flu Viruses Resistant to Tamiflu

 It’s been announced that a high incidence of flu viruses resistant to Tamiflu were detected in Tottori Prefecture. Specifically, it seems that the mutated H1N1 flu viruses which acquired resistant genes to Tamiflu, which have been reported in Europe and other areas, have somehow reached Tottori Prefecture. The type of flu caused by these viruses is ordinary, so we should not be unduly worried.
 We will provide the relevant information to medical societies and school officials immediately. The first of the countermeasures we are planning is to call for the public to receive preventive vaccination before the flu season. We will also immediately urge the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to secure the vaccines for us, stressing that Tottori Prefecture is in more urgent need of flu vaccination than any other area.

Screening of domestic candidate sites for World Geopark

 It’s extremely regrettable that the San’in Coast was not selected as one of the candidate sites. The relevant parties have now channeled all their enthusiasm toward the dream of the area’s registration as a Geopark. I want to pay my respect to them once again. The passion for reentry is gathering strength.
 It’s necessary to examine why our entry was rejected. One possible reason is our organization in academic terms. Six advisors are supporting us now, but we need to reinforce collaboration with universities and research institutions and reestablish our academic application style. It’s also necessary for us as a local autonomy to bring geological experts on board.
 The said San’in Coast is spread over Tottori, Hyogo and Kyoto Prefectures, which is a huge disadvantage in competition with other areas. In order to overcome the disadvantage, we need to build up a firm network system. Tomorrow we will hold a discussion with Tottori City and Iwami Town about the establishment of such a system in the future.

Transfer of Authorities over Roads and Rivers

 We received an official proposal for the transfer of authority over certain roads and rivers away from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. Part of the decentralization reform policies are now directed toward transferring managerial authorities over roads and rivers and procedures are about to move on to the negotiation stage with each prefecture to decide which roads and rivers will be specifically subject to the transfer.
 As for Tottori Prefecture, the areas along Tenjin River and parts of Route 53 in Tottori City are under the said negotiation. We will sit down at the negotiating table after it becomes clear what kind of financial measures are provided for our benefit, what type of development and construction projects are planned, and what sort of budget was estimated for the projects. We would like to reach some conclusion within this year.

Outsider Art Exhibition “Raku” in Kurayoshi

 An exhibition of the art known as the Outsider Art was held at the old Saiki Family House in Kurayoshi, featuring the artworks by the disabled artists. It was a collection full of remarkable works that offered a glimpse of future great masters. I hope such creative endeavors of the disabled will continue to expand.

Q. Concerning the said transfer of authorities, did they explain to you why the two sites were chosen and what is the benefit for Tottori Prefecture? Do you regard this as a desirable trend?

 With regard to roads, if a bypass highway overlaps another road which is subject to a different jurisdiction (such as the national government’s), the authorities over the road will be transferred from the national government to the local government in order to streamline the jurisdictions over the route. However, Route 53 is now under construction to lay power lines underground, which requires a certain amount of project overhead, so we need to be informed of the situation in detail. If the said transfer is made, we will make relevant decisions and ask Tokyo to handle the financial burden simultaneously.
 On the other hand, they explained to me that Tenjin River falls under the designation of “rivers lying within the same prefecture and not likely to cause serious damages in case of flood.” Regarding rivers, a large amount of project overhead is likely to be required in case a disaster occurs. So I think it’s a necessary condition that the national government take responsibility and bear the financial burden in case of a disaster. Moreover, ordinary river management requires quite an amount of cost, so we cannot agree with the said transfer before the national government explains to us about how they will deal with the revenue sources for the required expenditure.
 The benefit will be that the prefectural assemblies, residents and local people in the areas will be able to make the relevant decisions at their own discretion. More flexible handling will be possible than before. Having said that, we will closely monitor how the issue of the revenue sources will be handled in order to prevent a repetition of the Trinity Reform, in which the local allocation tax was reduced by a large amount in the name of transfer of authorities.

Q. With regard to the flu viruses resistant to Tamiflu, will the prefectural administration consider any assistance measures concerning vaccination?

 Under the current circumstances, it will not be a question of survival and there won’t be any concern of aftereffects even if the flu vaccination is not administered across the prefecture. So we are not considering any specific subsidized projects.

Q. What measures is the prefectural administration taking or planning to take regarding the issue of off-the-books funds and improper expenditures?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that the Board of Audit conducted investigations on 12 prefectures and revealed the cases of off-the-book money derived from fictitious claims and improper expenditures and that Tottori Prefecture has not gone through the investigation,) Tottori Prefecture is proceeding with unique measures that no other prefecture has taken in order to eradicate off-the-books funds. In this fiscal year, in case public officials are managing some money in each division aside from the public account, they are required to declare it so that it may be released to the public. I believe that increased transparency will help eradicate the tactic called “azuke (depositing)” which was revealed this time.
 We haven’t yet grasped the details of what specifically has been revealed by the Board of Audit’s investigation, but they will probably include some misappropriated money that should have been used as subsidies, or improper accounting of the sort pointed out by the Board of Audit every year. Yesterday I instructed the personnel divisions to order the whole administration to manage the accounts properly and not conduct any unscrupulous accounting such as misappropriation of subsidies. The order will reach all divisions of the prefectural administration in paper today or tomorrow.

Q. Some say that flexibility is lacking in terms of how to use subsidies. Do you have any improvements or requests to convey to the national government?

 If there is a trend to virtually encourage using up all the project budgets, it should be corrected. Unlike other prefectures, Tottori is rather shifting toward the attitude of allowing funds to remain in budgets if these turn out to be unnecessary.
 According to news reports this time, the intention to use up all the budgets ended up in the tactic called “azuke” in the case of Aichi Prefecture. Although I haven’t got the details, I suspect that there was a kind of obsession within the administration of Aichi Prefecture that all the project budgets must be implemented for the much-awaited subsidized projects and that’s the background of this case, I think. This is a matter to be reconciled. I need the national government to make sure that subsidies can be used flexibly and establish a concrete system under which actually unnecessary projects can be cancelled and the remaining funds in their budgets can be returned.

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