Matsuba Crabs

 This season’s first bidding on Matsuba crabs, one of the representative winter flavors of Tottori, will take place today. I strongly hope that this season will see good catches and their trades at appropriate prices, and reward the efforts of fishery operators who have struggled with hardships such as high crude oil prices.

The Result of the US Presidential Election

 Yesterday the votes were counted for the US presidential election, and candidate Barack Obama won a landslide victory. I have high hopes for his leadership.
 I welcome the advent of the Obama administration. However, I’m slightly concerned about his positive stance during the election campaign toward the removal of North Korea from the list of terrorism sponsoring countries. It’s not necessarily favorable to the efforts of our national government to rescue the Japanese abductees from the country. Under the current circumstances, it’s not clear how much contribution the US government is going to make to help solve the abduction issue. I think it means that Japan needs to reinforce its firm stance on this issue.
 Other than one of the abductees, Ms. Kyoko Matsumoto, there are other people from Tottori Prefecture who are believed to have been abducted and their families are living in our prefecture. This is an issue that must be resolved, so now I’m searching with a sense of necessity for ways to collaborate with other prefectures which are dealing with the same issue and form an alliance to make appeals to Tokyo.

Supplementary Budget to be Proposed in November

 This month, Tottori Prefectural Assembly’s session will be opened. We are now preparing the bills for the session. With the stabilization of livelihood and economy in mind, we are ready to move on through the final stage of the compilation of the budget.

Schedules, etc.

 Today, in commemoration of the establishment of “Tottori Crime Victim Support Center (as tentatively translated),” “Tottori Prefectural Forum to Support Crime Victims (as tentatively translated) will be held. I hope we will have opportunities to listen to what actual crime victims have to say, in order to deepen our understanding.
 On November 10, the No Plastic Bag campaign will be held simultaneously all across the prefecture. With the participation of 47 enterprises, it will be kicked off in nearly 300 outlets.
 Next week, I will attend a meeting of the Kinki Bloc Governors’ Association and also the Kansai Regional Cooperation Subcommittee of the Kansai Economic Federation in order to make appeals for collaboration between Kansai Region and Tottori Prefecture. In the meeting of the governors’ association, I’m planning to propose discussions in order to gain the support of Kinki Bloc governors for the designation (of San’in Coast) as a Geopark. I’m thinking of inviting members of the Kinki Bloc Governors’ Association to Tottori in order to hold its meeting which is scheduled from next spring to summer so that they can share the realization with us that Tottori Prefecture will be a part of Greater Kinki.

Q. Regarding the abduction issue, Governor Ueda of Saitama Prefecture reportedly said that he intends to form a governors’ circle aimed specifically at tackling this issue. Do you intend to participate in it?

 (After the reporter’s confirming that Governor Hirai intends to collaborate with the governors of other prefectures home to the abductees,) We are now negotiating behind closed doors. It may be necessary for local governments to work together and make appeals to the national government in order to rescue the abductees. So far, Tottori Prefecture has issued a solo appeal and I have urged the National Governors’ Association to issue an urgent motion, which was adopted by a resolution. But I think that several prefectures might as well form an alliance and seek for opportunities to make appeals to top government officials. The point is that we need to seize this timing for appeals to Tokyo.

Q. In the current process of reviewing Tottori Prefecture’s information disclosure ordinance, putting limitation on information disclosure has been proposed. Have there been such cases of limitation as far as you know?

 The board of education is now working on the details of the revised version of the ordinance. I will now wait and see its development. The board is now trying to make their way through a trackless path in the national arena. There are lots of problems to be solved and various ideas are being proposed to solve them. I’m determined to respect such ideas of the board’s in tackling these problems. I don’t know about other cases in other prefectures.

Q. Some point out that limiting the use of disclosed information by any means is unconstitutional. What’s your take on this?

 (After the reporter’s referring to the provisions in the Constitution such as Freedom of Expression or Prohibition of Censorship,) I don’t think it will be in conflict with the Prohibition of Censorship. The clause of the Prohibition of Censorship concerns the prior deletion of the information to be opened to the public. Rather, putting limitation on disclosure itself might be closer to the prohibited censorship.

Q. Appropriate use of information is already stipulated in the current ordinance. There are opinions that it should be enough. What do you think about it?

 Even if the said clause of appropriate use is extended and included in the new ordinance as a preferable one, it will not greatly deviate from the current ordinance.
 As far as the proposal by the board of education is concerned, since no punitive clause is included, it will not reach a point where constitutional disputes will arise, I think. Having said that, the final judgment will be possible only after the content of the proposal becomes clear.

Q. The board of education’s proposal stipulates a clear limitation on the use of the disclosed information upon the decision to disclose it. Am I right in understanding that you think it constitutional to put limitation on the use of the said information?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that the board of education’s proposal is contrary to Governor Hirai’s prediction that the clause in the current ordinance is only extended and incorporated in the new ordinance,) The board is taking a very subtle approach. They have probably been exchanging various opinions. I think the board is still in the process of having discussions in study meetings and it will take them a while to finalize the details and reach a conclusion.

Q. The board proposes that some limitation should be put on the use of the information in case educational consideration is deemed necessary. What do you think of this idea?

 (After the reporter’s request to Governor Hirai for his comment on the expression, “educational consideration” to justify the limitation on the disclosure,) The expression, “educational consideration” may be vague. I feel that more concrete expressions are necessary. I think that what the board wants to emphasize is the negative effects on children. If that’s the reason for their proposed ordinance, it could be reasonable. If the educational consideration is prepared for the municipal boards of education, for example, I don’t think it can be justified.

Q. Yesterday, Prime Minister Aso expressed his intention to abolish or downsize some regional offices of the national government. What do you think of it?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that the Regional Agricultural Administration Offices of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will be abolished in principle and the Regional Development Bureaus of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism will be downsized drastically, according to Prime Minister Aso,) I expect thorough discussions on this issue.

Q. If the functions of the Regional Agricultural Administration Offices are transferred to prefectural governments, do you think it will be more advantageous than disadvantageous to prefectural governments?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that the news media have only reported that the Regional Agricultural Administration Offices will be abolished in principle, and that they haven’t referred to whether or not their functions will be transferred to local autonomies,) Whether it will be advantageous or not depends on how the issues of personnel and finance will be handled. In financial aspects, it’s necessary to go on in a simple and businesslike manner in the end. I fully welcome the national government’s aim to rethink and revise the existence of the Regional Agricultural Administration Offices.

Q. Am I right in understanding that it has a potential to be highly advantageous, depending on how the personnel and monetary issues will be handled?

 That’s right. More and more agricultural measures are being conducted by organizations under direct control of the national bureau bypassing the prefectural and municipal administrations. However, it will be better and more effective to entrust the task to the prefectural or municipal administrations in most of the cases. I don’t know why it’s necessary for them to go to the trouble and establish such organizations.

Q. Panasonic Corp. is aiming to take over SANYO Electric Co. Do you have any new information or plan to make any demands to Panasonic’s side? If so, when is it?

 I don’t have any new information or plan for now. President Matsuoka (of SANYO Consumer Electronics Co. Ltd.) said that their board of directors’ meeting will be convoked and the relevant procedure will continue within the company. I think that the related information will be released gradually in the process. This morning I read a news article which reported the interview to the president of SANYO about the company’s final accounts. From the article, I took it that SANYO is seeking to secure its independent management. However, the financial institutions (which are holding SANYO‘s stocks) have the clout in many aspects and it’s difficult to foresee how the situation will develop.

Q. The financial situation of Gainare Tottori remains critical. Do you intend to provide them with any financial support, by withdrawing some amount from the fund, for example? If so, do you plan to attach any conditions?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that Gainare Tottori, a professional soccer team based in Tottori, has temporarily advanced to the 4th place in the JFL league, which they belong to,) We should avoid a situation where Gainare could be denied entry to the J2 League for reasons of financial difficulty. I think that utilizing the joint fund of Tottori City and ours will be an acceptable option, and we need to hold discussions toward this end.

Q. In case some amount is withdrawn from the fund, it must be utilized in a transparent manner, as it’s a public expense. Do you plan to impose conditions for that matter?

 It’s an issue that we should discuss with Tottori City. It’s also necessary that Gainare’s side will sense and assume financial responsibility regarding such support.

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