In July of this year, the National Council of Governors will be holding a meeting for the first time in Iwate. During Special Budget Review Session of the Iwate Prefectural Assembly held on March 8th, Prefectural Assemblyman Junichi Sasaki (Iwate Reform) proposed that a bill be put forth at the Governor’s meeting for realizing the ILC. The Prefectural Government expressed that this would be unrealistic, but did indicate they would work towards encouraging enthusiasm for the ILC project.
This proposal was made during the budget review session for the Department of Policy and Regional Affairs (the ILC Promotion Office is within this department). The National Council of Governors meets throughout the year, but the meeting held in July-August outside of Tokyo is focused on the national budget for the next fiscal year. It is seen as an important opportunity for regions outside of Tokyo to give suggestions on the budget. This year’s meeting on July 26-28 will be held in Iwate, which is the first time the Council of Governors has been held in one of the Tohoku earthquake disaster-affected areas since the disaster.
Junya Kuzuo, senior policy coordinator for the Iwate Prefectural Government, spoke about the themes that would be focused on at the July meeting: disaster prevention, risk reduction, and the reconstruction from the disaster. Like other prefectures that have hosted the meeting, Iwate will conduct an opinion exchange session for all the governors, as well as talk about its reconstruction and show off its World Heritage Sites Hiraizumi & the Hashino Mining/Smelting Site.
Key to the ILC project will be the decision by the Japanese government on whether or not to host the project, and that decision should take place around the end of 2017 to sometime in 2018. This year’s initiatives will be crucial, so Assemblyman Sasaki made a proposal. “The ILC is a common theme for the whole country. How about we use this Council of Governors meeting to deepen debate on the ILC and get agreement from the governors of the 47 prefectures of Japan? Then we can make a proposal to the national government.”
Hisashi Odaira, director general of the Department of Policy and Regional Affairs, said that it would be a challenge to gain agreement from all the governors, seeing as the Kyushu region had also previously been a proposed candidate site for the ILC. “Gaining support for the ILC from other prefectures will be a problem. We’ve wanted to do something since we learned that the council meeting would be held in Iwate, but it certainly won’t be easy.” He also stated, “It’s a big challenge but we’d like to work on it.”