Emergency Economic and Employment Measures

 Yesterday, the national supplementary budget cleared the Lower House and relevant bills were also passed. Some say that the said budget is likely to be implemented to a large degree, but we cannot say that it’s assured yet. So we will draft up Tottori Prefecture’s independent economic and employment measures promptly and convene the prefectural assembly’s extraordinary session. We will do all we can to hold the session on January 27.
 With regard to the proposals to be presented to the session, we will set aside nationally subsidized projects for the assembly’s February session and budget the projects which we have to go forward with as our sole regional responsibility at this stage in order to fill the blank period. Specifically, we are planning to add the employment subsidization, in which companies will receive a grant of 1 million yen per new employee, to the list of our support measures for companies’ enlargement of their facilities. We are also deliberating the possibilities of independent projects to support job training or employment targeting local residents who have lost their jobs, people residing in other prefectures who are thinking of U-turn, J-turn or I-turn to Tottori Prefecture, and the like. We will also propose a budget to create employment bases in agriculture, forestry and fishery, for example.
 Moreover, with respect to public investment, we are planning to propose a certain number of relatively small-scale projects, such as maintenance and repairs (of roads and rivers etc). The amount will probably exceed 3 billion yen.
 Not withstanding that, I hope both houses of the Diet will speed up the deliberation for their economic and employment measures. I’m going to talk with the members of the Association of Five Governors in their 40s (of Tottori, Miyagi, Yamagata, Tokushima, and Saga Prefectures) and further appeal to Tokyo for prompt implementation of economic and employment measures, including utilization of useful national systems.

Schedule, etc.

 DBS Cruise Ferry proposed to us that they should visit Tottori Prefecture on Friday and give us an official explanation about the plan to launch their ship service (across the Sea of Japan) in the future. It’s probably an indication that a certain prospect for their procuring the ship is beginning to emerge. Things seem to be moving toward launching of the service in February on a trial basis rather than suspension. We haven’t heard whether the procured ship is their first choice, but I feel confident that a ship has been procured.
 We initiated challenges to strengthen the activities to rescue the abductees (taken to North Korea) at the prefectural level. Yesterday I had a press conference with my fellow governors in Tokyo and asked the foreign media for cooperation. I also participated in the recording of a radio program to air in North Korea. I included the message from Ms. Kyoko Matsumoto’s (one of the abductees) family in mine to broadcast to the country. I spoke for them and said, “Your family is all waiting for you. Take good care and stay healthy until we meet again.”
 In my message, I expressed my determination to make relevant appeals to the national government and other efforts on a regional level and included information about various recent developments regarding this issue. I think that Tokyo should take action immediately. The regional sides have already begun. Mr. Obama will be inaugurated as US President and his new administration will assume power on January 20. I announced that I will send a letter to the new administration for the resolution.
 Tomorrow “Osaka and Tottori Exchange Forum (as tentatively translated)” will be held in Osaka City. It is set to be an open forum in which Governor Hashimoto of Osaka Prefecture, Mr. Taichi Sakaiya (a famous writer and economic analyst), President Inada of Family Co., Ltd, and I will have a talk about the exchange between Osaka and Tottori Prefectures in terms of business development, regional construction, and so on.

Q. With regard to the supplementary budget amounting to 3 to 4 billion yen, what proportions will be allocated to employment and economic measures respectively?

 I expect that about half or more of it will be allocated to projects relating to public investment.

Q. The national subsidies will be available at the end of March, at the earliest. How do you assess the current situation, where Tottori Prefecture must budget its independent projects without the subsidies?

 Around the New Year holidays, more than 1000 workers were subject to employment adjustment. We estimate that the number of workers expected to be adjusted by the end of this fiscal year will be greater that last year, so immediate action is required. But the number of positions as temporary staff and so on which can be offered to job seekers is limited. Also, in consideration of workers’ needs, efforts need to be made in order to create new employment bases. The cumulative budget is necessary for that purpose. As the national subsidization is not available, which is unfortunate, it’s a measure that we need to choose and enforce independently under pressure of necessity in a dilemma.
 If we don’t do it, the blank period will be prolonged and the debate in the Diet might also be extended, which will increase damage to the regional economy. So we have judged that we need to take action as a region, in order to fill the blank period.

Q. As for the budget resources, do you intend to advance the supplementary budget for February or the initial budget of the next fiscal year? Otherwise, will you seek other ways to generate the fund?

 We will eke out the money available to us (within our current budget).

Q. Lawmaker Yoshimi Watanabe left the Liberal Democratic Party. What do you think of his departure and have you received any offers from him?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that Watanabe left the LDP due to the party’s handling of the fixed-sum benefits for the whole nation and proposed to Governor Hashimoto of Osaka Prefecture that they should kick off some new national movement together,) I can’t say that I don’t sympathize with Mr. Watanabe’s feelings and his decision to leave the LDP. I’d say that every lawmaker in the ruling coalition feels they are questioned on their sense of conscience as a politician in their stance toward the benefits. However, I think Mr. Watanabe has decided to leave the LDP partially because the Democratic Party of Japan has not fielded any candidates in his constituency. So, considering that there is a peculiar regional circumstance behind his departure, I personally think his initiative won’t spread and gain momentum so swiftly.
 Mr. Watanabe hasn’t given me any proposal, and I won’t accept any that may come.

Q. There are some news reports that SANYO Consumer Electronics Co., Ltd might decide to stop hiring new employees on its own account. Have you had any information about their employment policies?

 I didn’t know about it until it was reported by the news media. No communication has been made to the prefectural administration about this issue, even at the departmental levels. That’s why we are not capable of investigating whether the news reports are true or not. We will continue gathering information and paying attention to this issue. We hope that SANYO Electronics will consider the employment in Tottori Prefecture all across the board within their organization.

Q. If e-mail messages between administrative staff in the prefecture are subject to information disclosure as official documents, Tottori Prefecture has yet to make provisions regarding saving of e-mails, it seems, so . . .

 In our information disclosure ordinance, Tottori Prefecture pioneered the stipulation that the information disclosure shall apply not only to the visible documents (such as paper documents) but also to the information stored in computers to the same degree, which had never been implemented by any other prefecture. However, in some cases, you may not be able to decide which information falls under this category (subject to disclosure). The system exists now for this purpose and the system for classification, storage, or disclosure of information is also established. All that needs to be done is to establish and articulate the interpretations in order to clarify the details.

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