Visit to the headquarters of SANYO Electric Co.,Ltd.

 Yesterday I met Mr. Sano, the president of SANYO Electric Co., Ltd. at their headquarters in Moriguchi City, Osaka Prefecture. If the negotiations to tie theirs and Panasonic Corporation begin, a huge impact on our local economy is anticipated. I expressed to him my sincere hopes for the continued operation of SANYO Consumer Electric Co., Ltd. in Tottori City for job security.
 Mr. Sano told me that he really understood the situation in our region and he would refer to the conditions in Tottori Prefecture at the negotiation table with Panasonic. He also emphasized that SANYO Consumer Electric would not undergo drastic change immediately. I feel it’s necessary for us, as a region, to firmly support the implementation of their mid-term plan in management.

Schedule, etc.

 Tomorrow Tottori Prefecture will make a solitary demand to the national government for the solution of the abduction issue (by North Korea). I’m planning to convey our current situation to Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Uruma. Some new information has been obtained regarding Ms. Kyoko Matsumoto and I will ask Mr. Uruma to change the course and aim for fruitful negotiations, if the previous strategy was not effective.
 Also, I will go to Tokyo with Governor Mizoguchi of Shimane Prefecture in order to secure the construction of the expressway network (in our regions). The road construction plan may be delayed until next year, according to some observations, and Tokyo and we are likely to go into extremely heated discussions in relation to the incorporation of road-related tax revenues into general use. Although fairly difficult situations are anticipated, I will demand that the national government should take responsibility for completing the expressway construction in the San’in Region, where the work is far from finished.
 The day before yesterday, a meeting of the Kinki Bloc Governors' Association was held and it was decided that the association will have its meeting on June 2 next year in Tottori City for the first time. I expect it to be a symbolic event of our deepened connection with the Kansai Region.
 Next Monday, a meeting of the Chugoku region’s governors will be held in Yonago City. Along with that, we will have a negotiation meeting of governors and business leaders (Chugoku Regional Development Promotion Conference as tentatively translated) with the Chugoku Economic Federation. We are planning to exchange ideas about wide-area tourism. I hope the circle of cooperation will expand in the Chugoku Region.

Q. With regard to the fixed-rate benefit, the 4 city mayors in Tottori are complaining about the national program’s system. What do you think of it? And what’s your take on the upper limit of 18 million yen as an income to be eligible for the benefit?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that the mayors are opposed to Tokyo’s intention to leave all the decision-making concerning the income limitation to municipal governments,) There are some problems in the current course of discussion. I think the national government is trying to leave the decision-making to municipalities. As is the case with the academic achievement test, Tokyo’s half-hearted delegation to municipal authorities is causing confusion at the working levels. Since it’s initiated by the national government as a key element of their economic measures, they should take full responsibility for establishing and managing the system as a national project. Implementing the income limitation will be a burden on local autonomies. Normally, the national government should try to establish the system as a responsible party even at the risk of starting over from square one. The total amount of 2 trillion yen, which is budgeted for the program, is equivalent to 5 year’s worth of Tottori Prefecture’s annual budget. We are now at the crossroads as to whether or not batter the economy. So appropriate measures should be thought over and realized at the right time.
 I have an impression that the developments pertaining to this issue are preceded by the agreements within the ruling parties, the LDP and the New Komeito Party. I think that basic points need to be confirmed again. For example, incorporating a scheme designed to ensure that the benefit will be used locally could be an option. If local regions are involved, there should be room for such measures, I think. I also think it’s best if Tokyo draws up the list of measures.
 I’m not sure why the limitation amount is 18 million yen. There are few upper-income earners in Tottori Prefecture, so in our case it may be more cost-effective to pay the benefit to every citizen, taking into account the administrative cost of the procedure.

Q. In the program, the municipalities are likely to be allowed to request the high-income earners to decline the benefit. If requested by Tottori City, will you decline the benefit?

 I will consider it within the framework of established rules. That’s the way it should be in a law-abiding nation.

Q. You mentioned the need to make sure the benefit will be used locally. Are you concerned that the effect of the benefit program will not expand to local regions, even if the benefit is provided?

 That’s right. If the benefit is saved in a bank account, latent property of banks will only increase. Some degree of effect might be expected in terms of stimulating consumption. However, since as much as 2 trillion yen is spent, relevant parties should exercise sagacity in order to effect more constructive ways of using the money in the case of poor prefectures such as Tottori.

Q. If Tottori Prefecture’s residents use the benefit locally, the benefit will turn to income of local shops who receive it. In that sense, do you think some limitation should be put in order to maintain the framework of regional economic measures?

 Yes, I do. However, bank transfer is the main stream now, so there won’t be any room for that idea. Money coupons could be considered as an alternative. Since that much money is provided to local regions, some kind of systems or measures are necessary in order to offer opportunities to remember local shopping areas once again. If the benefit program is not revised as it is, it will continue to be under criticism as a mere pork barrel before the election, I think.

Q. Regarding DBS Cruise Ferry, do you have any new information about their fund procurement, or purchase of ships?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that the company issued a pledge statement reaffirming that 5 billion won would be procured at the end of last September and that the money has not been credited yet,) There is no concrete information at hand now, so we need to confirm it. We will make relevant inquiries as soon as next week in order to have dialogues with DBS Cruise Ferry’s side.
 However, the weak won seems to have created unexpected impacts. I have a feeling that it’s becoming less and less clear whether the ships can be purchased or not at present.

Q. With regard to SANYO, did you offer President Sano any concrete support measures? And do you intend to shape the measures in the future?

 I asked him to understand that SANYO Consumer Electric Co., Ltd. is the leading company which young people in our region are yearning to join; and to continue their operation here for job security, and try to convert the development into some synergic effects with Panasonic. As for support measures, I told him that we can surely support them in terms of investment , for example, when SANYO Consumer Electric is on its way to renewing itself and exploring new business fields. I also told him that we have a support scheme if they intend to deploy administrative and clerical staff here, and that we will be ready to consider other support measures flexibly in line with SANYO ‘s renovation in the coming years.

Q. Do you intend to make any requests to Panasonic in the future? If so, when is it?

 We are going to make relevant decisions while watching how the situation will develop. Panasonic and SANYO have just started negotiations. I believe that the reasonable approach is to make requests to Panasonic at the phase where their tie-up negotiations will soon be finalized formally on the precondition that SANYO will be Panasonic’s subsidiary. Having said that, we need to respond and make some consideration in case the situation has drastically changed or there is some development.
 As for the timing, I think we should avoid interrupting the negotiations for SANYO ‘s future, so we will carefully monitor the situation and make appropriate considerations.

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