Prime Minister Fukuda’s Resignation

I was duly surprised last night to hear the abrupt announcement of Prime Minister Fukuda's resignation. Instead of simply going along with the Structural Reform policies of his predecessors, he had been attempting to revise the policies in order to correct their subsequent strains. His sudden resignation is extremely unfortunate.  Soon the presidential election of Liberal Democratic Party will kick off, and it won’t be long before the snap election is held. I expect the politicians in the national arena to focus their discussions on the matters which Tokyo was trying to realize in the latest supplementary budget, such as reaching out to the areas struggling with regional disparities like Tottori Prefecture, or eliminating the gap in the living standard.

Supplementary Budget to be Presented in September

 The prefectural assembly’s September session will soon begin. I would like to have waited to see what the national supplementary budget will be like, but we will propose our own budget plan for the measures that the prefectural administration can conduct promptly, such as those against the soaring prices of oil fuel or materials.

Opening of the Antenna Shop

 On August 29, our antenna shop was opened in Tokyo. Thanks to the combined efforts of many key individuals and the operator itself, the shop received an unexpectedly high turnout from the opening day.  This result makes me realize the extent to which the features of Tottori Prefecture, as Food Capital Tottori, could be appreciated nationwide. I hope the relevant parties will feel a lot more confident and we will promote our up-and-coming prefecture with even greater strength.

Damages Caused by Hail

 On the same day (August 29), Nichinan Town (in Tottori Prefecture) was hit by a hailstorm. I would like to express my heartfelt sympathy for the town's farmers.  The damages are extremely peculiar and serious. We need to hold a conference with the town to draw up some concrete measures for reconstruction assistance. I’m planning to submit additional proposals for this purpose in the prefectural assembly’s September session.

Campaign of Tottori Week in Taiwan

 We will run a campaign entitled “Tottori Week” from September 5 through 10 in Taichung County, Taiwan. We will promote our local products and the features of Tottori attractive to tourists as Manga Kingdom. This is our first time to be given an opportunity to hold a tie-up event with Taichung County. I would like to thank the relevant parties for their enormous efforts.   In addition to this, charted flights will shuttle between Taichung Airport and Tottori Airport on September 4 and 7. Not only we will go to Taiwan, but also tourists will come to Tottori from Taiwan. The flight will use Tottori Airport and I will meet the passengers at the airport.

Q. What reconstruction assistance measures will be taken in response to the hail damage?

 Apples, livestock barns, and rice crops were damaged. The mutual aid system for apple farmers is not established (in Tottori) because the number of potential members is too small, so we need to take that into account when conducting the operations. That and the assistance for the damaged livestock barns will be the main targets, I think. We need to decide on the specifics in consultation with Nichinan Town and its farmers.

Q. What was your feeling about the timing of Prime Minister Fukuda's resignation announcement yesterday?

 I thought that he chose this timing to announce his resignation in order to minimize the impact on national politics after a thorough calculation, which is different from the case of former Prime Minister Abe.

Q.From the public’s point of view, it only appears as if he just threw away the administration. These consecutive resignations will increase public distrust of politics. What is your take on this?

 I think that he thought it was the best decision based on his calculation to minimize the negative impacts on people’s lives. However, I feel worried that the public may have lost faith in the political system.  I think this development will lead to the presidential election (of Liberal Democratic Party), and hasten toward the immediate snap election among governing parties and the opposition camp. Prime Minister Fukuda’s announcement has pulled the trigger.

Q. Soon the presidential election (of the LDP) will be held. What are your hopes for the next prime minister?

 What is lacking and essential now is swiftness. What needs to be done is already beginning to become clear. I expect strong leadership from a leader who feels compassion for the regions worn out by regional disparities and those less fortunate.   Prime Minister Fukuda’s decision is regrettable because I felt I could favorably assess his policies, which were not merely handed down from former Prime Minister Koizumi. I strongly hope that the next prime minister will try to break away from the previous absolute commitment to structural reform.

Q. Do you think the resignation of Prime Minister Fukuda will cause stagnation in national politics? It's also thought that he achieved both good and bad results. Do you have anything you would have liked to have said as a prefectural governor?

 I think he chose to reshuffle the whole personnel before the Diet session in order to avoid that kind of political stagnation.  He was a bit lacking in the energy needed to lead the public and failed to pick up speed toward achieving concrete results in the shift away from structural reform and the development of environmental measures. With regard to the issue of regional disparities, the pieces haven’t been picked up after the decision to put the road-related tax revenues to general purpose, so I personally feel that we have been left with an unclear vision for the future of land development for our prefecture.

Q. With regard to the regional disparities, do you mean that the related measures are only half done?

 They have been suspended halfway. The latest decision concerning tax allocation is directed toward a slight increase of the allocated amount, which I feel is a sign of change of course. However, Tokyo is now proposing to reduce the amount of tax allocation by 600 billion yen in their budget request, which seems unfair to me.  I have the impression that regional considerations have been abandoned halfway.

Q. Until when will the prefecture continue to subsidize the Yonago-Seoul flight service and what is your plan to prepare for the construction of the temporary terminal (in Sakai Port)?

 (After the reporter‘s arguing and mentioning that Asiana Airlines decided to maintain the said flight service for another half year largely because of the subsidization by Tottori Prefecture and that DBS Cruise Ferry is saying that it will collect the ante for launching of their ship service amounting to 5 billion won by November), Emergency subsidization of Asiana Airlines has already stopped. Support measures to promote the said flight service have been conducted by public and private sectors jointly since the launching of the flight service. If it were confirmed that the service will be frequented without any support in the future, the support measures could be terminated. However, in the current circumstances, the prospects for the airline industry are not at all bright. So the option of terminating the joint support of the public and private sectors is difficult to consider at this juncture. We should keep an eye on the seat occupancy rate (of the Yonago-Seoul flight service) as well as international flight services all over Japan as we consider this issue.  With regard to DBS Cruise Ferry, I had a meeting with them the other day and had the impression that things were progressing quite well compared with the previous situation that I had heard about. We want to confirm that the ante will be collected by means of official verification. If confirmed so, I will give the go-ahead for the construction of the ferry terminal.

Q. When will the time limit be, roughly?

 To tell the truth, we are on the edge of the time limit. This September will be the make-or-break stage.

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