Apprehension of a fishing vessel originating from Tottori Prefecture

 The crewmembers of a Tottori-based fishing boat which was seized (by Russian authorities) have not yet been released. All I can do is hope for their release as soon as possible. We in the prefectural administration will do our utmost to support their families and relations, as they must be reaching the limits of their endurance.

Budget Compilation

 Yesterday we started the full-scale budget compilation process for the next fiscal year. The current austere economy is casting a dark shadow over the budget compilation. Although the tax revenue for fiscal 2008 was expected to reach 55.2 billion yen in the initial budget, the revenue for the next fiscal year is now estimated to amount to only 46.8 billion yen, that is, a decline of about 8.5 billion yen. However, under the newly introduced system where the revenues from Regional Corporate Tax will be shared among prefectures, with about 1.8 billion yen (allocated to Tottori Prefecture), the real budget decline is estimated to be equivalent to about 6.7 billion yen.
 As for the tax allocation to local governments, although the amount (for the next fiscal year) has been raised (compared with this fiscal year), we have not yet seen the remarkable results we expected, due to the impacts of decreased tax revenues on various sectors. At the current estimation, the amount (of tax allocation to Tottori Prefecture for the next fiscal year) will decrease by about 18 billion yen (compared with this fiscal year). However, we expect that the real amount of the tax allocation including the financial aid loans by the national government is likely to increase by about 4 billion yen compared with fiscal 2008. Having said that, due to the reduced tax revenues, the circumstances surrounding the budget compilation are still severe.
 In order to tackle the given challenges in the current economic climate, we have no other choice but to compile the budget in a “bare-bones” manner. As discussed in the prefectural assembly, I think we should consider the possibility of utilizing the land development fund. Within the scheme, we need to stretch the safety nets of employment measures, medical welfare and the like, and also secure the budget for the bold investment into the future.
 Consequently, there is a challenge in securing from Tokyo the budget for the public investment which is required now, such as that for construction of expressways. We will make the relevant requests (to the national government) with local municipalities and the prefectural assembly.

Schedule, etc.

 As reported by the news media recently, there have been cancellations of informal appointments of new graduates here in Tottori Prefecture. We conducted investigations into this matter and it appears that job offers made to five high school students had been withdrawn.
 The other day, the staff of the Fisheries Agency and the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations visited and requested us to hold the National Rich Sea Creation Festival (as tentatively translated) and we exchanged opinions. I feel that we need to consider this offer sincerely, with the view of holding this festival in fiscal 2011.

Q. The incumbent governor of Yamagata was defeated in the gubernatorial election the other day and he will drop out of the Association of Five Governors. How do you feel about the results and are you thinking of reorganizing the association?

 The election results are the will of the people, which I will accept as they are, but we will lose a valued fellow. That’s frankly how I feel. There will be room for reconsidering the lineup of the association, so we will discuss it.
 At any rate, we are still quite concerned that the current political situation seems to have lost touch with an actual sense of the working levels. That’s why we need to maintain this framework.

Q. Regarding the fishing boat seizure, as a prefectural administration, how will you support the fishing sector’s argument? Do you intend to reconsider the information sources, and what do you think of the occurrence at this timing?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that the difference of recognition concerning the fishing zones between Japan’s side and Russian side is suspected to be behind this incident, that the information regarding the seizure is said to have been provided not by the sources of the Foreign Ministry but by the sources of the DBS Cruse Ferry’s side, and that now the launching process of the DBS’s ship service is at a crucial stage,) The issues regarding territorial waters should be resolved by negotiations at the national level. It’s been acknowledged that fishing boats from our side are permitted to operate in the waters now in question, so I want Tokyo to maintain a firm attitude as a national government in the negotiation.
 As for the information, the release of the ten crew members is the top priority. The negotiation is at a crucial stage where careful consideration is essential. In that sense, we need to watch the diplomatic dialogue, and various reactions can be anticipated. So the prefectural administration will swiftly do everything in our power to support the fishermen.
 In respect to the collection of information, various pieces of data are needed, so we are now trying to organize the information acquired from every direction and share it with the Foreign Ministry, which is engaged in the negotiation. In order to proceed with the negotiation steadily and smoothly, the information must be dealt with carefully. That’s what we will have in mind. The success of the negotiation depends on the diplomacy to a great deal, so we will establish a cooperative system to meet that end.
 DBS Cruise Ferry is a project to operate a ship service by a Korean maritime shipping company, so I assume it has no direct link with this type of fishery issue. DBS Cruise Ferry is planning to launch the ship service on a trial basis in February and then move on to a full-scale service in April. Our side will support the efforts.

Q. Regarding DBS, when the company’s vice president visited Tottori, he revealed a plan to establish their overseas affiliated company in Sakaiminato City in January. Has the prefecture received any relevant information or notification?

 The project of launching DBS Cruise Ferry’s ship service is entering the final stage, which is a crucial point. We are expecting that various issues will soon be cleared in addition to this prospect.
 With regard to the establishment of the said affiliated company in Japan, we are organizing a cooperation system to support its smooth progress while holding discussions with Sakainimato City.

Q. You laid out the policy for the next fiscal year’s budget, which aims to cut the reduction rate of public projects. To what extent do you plan to reflect the policy in the budget compilation?

 We are still working on it, so we haven’t reached a detailed conclusion. The national government intends to reduce the public investment by 5 percent. We are planning to set the reduction rate at about 2.5 percent, that is, half of the national plan. Some projects are advanced to January and February and covered by the supplementary budget. Adding these projects, we hope to maintain the amount (of public investment) at the level of the previous year.

Q. Am I right in understanding that the prefectural government will agree to hold the National Rich Sea Creation Festival in fiscal 2011 (in Tottori)?

 I’m inclined to agree to it.

Q. Is this festival a large event where quite a number of visitors are expected?

 That’s right. Ordinarily, some members of the imperial family will attend this festival, so it’s a prestigious event. I think this will be a golden opportunity to promote Tottori Prefecture as the “Food Capital” and publicize the improved access (to Tottori) due to the construction of expressways. As a matter of course, the main purpose of these efforts is to support and cheer up fishery operators, who are bearing various risks to their operation.

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