Apprehension of a fishing vessel originating from Tottori Prefecture

 Yesterday we made great progress toward the release of crewmembers of the fishery boat originating from Tottori Prefecture that had been seized (by Russian Authorities). We are relieved and glad. I would like to express gratitude to and share the joy with the fishermen who are enduring a hard time now, their families, the staff members of Hiyoshi Suisan, Ltd. (the company which owns the fishery boat), concerned parties in the fishery sector, and many others who offered enormous support for the resolution.
 I think that the quick and strategic action of the staff members of Hiyoshi Suisan, Ltd., including Mr. Iwata, the president, and the cooperation of the relevant parties, including ourselves, have led to this early release. I hope that the necessary procedures will commence as soon as possible by all means and the crewmembers will fully enjoy the air of their hometown on the quay of Sakai Port.

Budget Compilation

 The budget compilation is in the final stage now. We are compiling the next fiscal year’s initial budget, which will slightly exceed the initial budget of this fiscal year, that is, the amount of 337.9 billion yen. In spite of the severe financial situation, we are determined to fulfill the roles we are expected to play in various fields, such as education and public welfare, as well as planning measures against current employment and economic adversity.

Schedule, etc.

 In relation to economy and employment, we will hold “the 6th Conference for Vitalization of Regional Industries in Tottori Prefecture (as tentatively translated)” at the beginning of next week. It aims to add the biotechnology-related business sectors to the new industry vitalization strategy of Tottori Prefecture. In the context of this conference we are planning to propose the budget in order to install a laboratory for biotechnological research in Tottori University.
 We are also planning vigorous measures to attract enterprises to our region. Tsurumi Manufacturing Co., Ltd. has formally decided to expand its business, and we will hold a relevant signing ceremony within the next few days.
 Concerns about employment are getting more and more severe. Today I will visit industrial and commercial organizations with the staff members of the relevant commercial, industrial, and labor divisions and the board of education of Tottori Prefecture, and Tottori Labor Bureau, in order to urge the organizations to expand employment for the new graduates to whom the job offers have been withdrawn, and prevent the reoccurrence of such withdrawals .
 Recently, the move toward launching of DBS Cruise Ferry’s ship service across the Sea of Japan has shifted into high gear and we have got the news that the related capital increase has been registered on February 4. I hear that the subscription has settled on 5.9 billion won. The lineup of directors has been reshuffled and the major capital investor, Mr. Jeong Yeon-Thae assumed the post of president. And with regard to the said launching plan, the final adjustment is being made for him to visit us around February 10 and give relevant explanations to Tottori’s side. I would like to hear about the detailed plan on that occasion.
 Yesterday Sakaiminato City was notified by Tonghae City that the schedule of the trial launching (of DBS Cruise Ferry’s ship service across the Sea of Japan) has been finalized. The ship will set out from Tonghae in South Korea on February 21, sail into the Sakai Port on February 22, sail out from the Sakai Port on February 23 and return to Tonghae on February 24. It will be a trial cruising on the new service route carrying passengers only. Its aim is to reexamine the problems on the route, conditions of the ports, and so on. On South Korea’s side, the media have reported that the full-scale service will wait until May, I hear. We need to confirm this information.
 In relation thereof, since DBS Cruise Ferry will go ahead with this new endeavor amid this extremely austere economic climate, we are speeding up the discussion about how Tottori Prefecture, the relevant parties of four cities surrounding the Nakaumi Lake, including Sakaiminato City and other parties concerned, will support this project in the initial stage.

Q. Regarding DBS, in case their annual deficit piles up as predicted, does Tottori Prefecture plan to offer them additional support with Tonghae City in order to help them continue to operate their business for 3 years?

 We haven’t deliberated such measures on Japan’s side. Tonghae City has established some support measures after consultation with its municipal assembly, which stipulate that the city authorities will compensate for half of the deficit, if I remember correctly. The account’s breakdown is difficult for us to figure out, but Tohghae City intends to cover DBS’s deficit to a certain degree. The said measures also include provisions to support DBS’s operation of ship service and to help them reduce freight charges and passage fares for their competitiveness, and some other provisions for additional support.
 We are discussing this issue with relevant parties. However, Tottori Prefecture has no intention to compensate for any deficits. Our ongoing adjustment is focused on support measures for DBS’s operation of ship service and possibilities for certain financial aid for the costs they inevitably need to procure at the initial stage. We are not planning to offer support by way of covering any deficits that might arise.

Q. Will the subsidy amounting to 1 million yen (to be paid by Tottori Prefecture to DBS) continue to be provided even if their operation is in the black?

 I understand the opinion that the subsidy will not be necessary if they turn a profit. We are currently deliberating this issue.

Q. Then, am I right in understanding that the prefectural administration will support DBS as long as they are in the red?

 We will support their “ship service”. The bottom line is, once their business has become stable and the collection of a certain amount of service charges has brought profitable operation into sight, I want them to run their company on their own account. Be that as it may, they are unlikely to make enough profit from freight charges or passage fares at the initial stage. In such a case, if we do nothing and they try to maintain the ship service by collecting larger fees, it will prevent the service from developing in the end. So some measures are necessary in order to support the ship service to a certain degree. Besides, amid the very austere economic climate, if additional costs are required at the initial stage, there may be room for consideration of financial support. We are finalizing the details.

Q. The kind of direct subsidization for a debt-ridden company that you are planning is de facto deficit-covering, isn’t it? And isn’t it likely that the deficit-covering will need to be continued forever?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that Governor Hirai is only avoiding the expression “deficit-covering,” unlike Tonghae City, and that there is no guarantee that DBS ‘s business will turn a profit in even 4 or 5 years,) Their managing conditions or the prospect of the ship service of 4 or 5 years later will come out at that time, when we should discuss the issue once again. We decided that we should not brake this much-awaited project, which has taken enormous effort in launching. We intend to support their ship service at the initial stage to a certain degree.

Q. The point is to what extent the residents of Tottori will accept the prefecture’s direct support for a foreign-registered ship. You need to present concrete reasons to convince the residents that the support is necessary. What’s your response?

 I think this new ship route will bring multiple effects to our region, including economic benefits and cultural exchange. It’s the “ship service of our dreams,” so to speak. And in consideration of its economic impact and influence on our region’s future, it’s quite an investment for the future.
 Estimates of the costs and benefits of the investment will be clear in the near future. Whatever the detailed figures may be, we are expecting positive economic effects that largely surpass the subsidy for the ship service which may be required to a certain extent.

Q. In case DBS has run out of capital within 3 years, do you plan to present additional support measures in order to maintain the ship service, outside of the support framework which is now established?

 To say the least, we are not considering the kind of deficit-covering support which is offered by Tonghae City.

Q. You are proposing to offer direct financial aid to a foreign company which is likely to be in the red. Are you expecting future tax revenues in return?

 It’s not just a company. Our region is going to be connected with the other side of the sea by the conjunction of a new ship service route. That’s what we are watching right now. I expect this ship route to bring a certain amount of wealth to Tottori Prefecture, which will lead to our increased tax revenues. That’s what I’m hoping for.
 It may be true that these measures are intended for a foreign enterprise. However, the measures will stimulate the flow of people and goods, by which economic activities will be initiated. Then the region will get the upper hand, become a starting point of commodity distribution and allow itself to put out information which will bring tangible and potential profits, I think.

Q. Isn’t it necessary to be more specific about the tangible and potential profits and explain about them to the residents in Tottori Prefecture?

 We are hoping for residents’ understanding by showing that we can expect the positive economic results amounting to about 10 billion yen.

Q. On the assumption that profits amounting to 10 billion yen are likely, Shimane Prefecture is likely to gain their share of the profits. Do you plan to ask Shimane Prefecture to bear a fair share of the burden of related costs?

 We will exchange opinions with relevant parties from now on. Governor Mizoguchi of Shimane Prefecture understands the significance of this ship service. He’s given me a message that Shimane will jointly support this ship service with us. We hope to establish a cooperation scheme for various challenges, including cargo business operation.
 Sakaiminato City will be the core party of the support measures, I think. But I also think it’s advisable to consider the establishment of a cooperative system consisting of 4 cities and one town surrounding Nakaumi Lake, in order to make this dream come true. We hope to expand this circle of cooperation gradually to a wide-scale network, and we remain enthusiastic toward possible benefit.

Q. Voices of concern have been raised against the policy of assigning more part-time teachers for improvement of teaching methods (especially for team-teaching and smaller-size classes). What do you think of it?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that attention is paid to how the quorum will be allocated by Governor’s decision,) I don’t think that this year’s scheme should be downsized.

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