Governor Tasso talks with Iwate Nippo about plans for 2018 including the ILC

The original article was published in the Iwate Nippo (January 4th edition). Read the original here.

Major points of Iwate Nippo’s interview with Governor Takuya Tasso of Iwate Prefecture are outlined below (reported by Chief Yuki Kanda of the Reporting Department).

―What are your priorities for 2018, the last fiscal year of Iwate’s reconstruction plan from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami?

“We will continue to build housing for disaster survivors as quickly as we can, as well as work closely with survivors to deal with creating new communities and other challenges associated with moving to permanent housing. In order to restore livelihoods, we will proceed forward in attracting and training people to take over industries, expand the markets for Iwate’s agricultural and marine products, and restore function to the commerce industry.”

About how much do you think you’ll be able to move people from temporary housing to permanent housing in FY2018?

“In FY2017, we finished around 90% of the housing for disaster survivors, and prepared around 80% of planned land plots. We will have people in the temporary housing complexes move to permanent housing as soon as it’s ready. By summer 2018, we’d like to have moved half of the survivors, and by the end of FY2018, we predict we will have finished moving 80% of survivors to permanent housing.”

What kind of future Iwate would you like to create with the prefecture’s next 10-year comprehensive policy plan (2019-2028)?

“The people of Iwate faced the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, a natural disaster of historic proportions, head on. They have worked very hard at rebuilding ever since. I want the policy plan to increase the happiness of all residents of Iwate, and make it possible to realize their dreams.”

What will the prefecture be doing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?

“We have increased our efforts to register host towns and attract training camps for Olympic teams, but I hope to support the efforts of the municipalities and get a lot of Iwate residents to meet and interact with Olympic athletes and officials. Through this, the world will see a restored Iwate, and we’ll have a chance to show our gratitude for their support.”

You have a goal to reduce population decline to zero, but thus far it has been impossible to stop people from moving out of Iwate to other areas.

“Population concentration in Tokyo is a national trend, so I hope to ask the national government to come up with policies that will correct that. However, we are getting some good results from prefectural and municipal policies to develop our local hometowns. I hope to put my efforts into changing working styles (reducing overwork), providing internships in the Tokyo area for university students, increasing places where people can visit to learn more about moving to Iwate, and support the municipalities in their projects to increase the usage of empty homes.”

There’s been a poor catch of many of the major fishing species, so how do you plan to develop the fishing industry?

“What will be most crucial for salmon is using the rebuilt salmon hatcheries to their fullest, and securing 400 million salmon fry each year for release into the ecosystem. As far as Pacific saury and squid, we will coordinate with the national government to determine and manage our resources. The fishermen and processing people get their raw ingredients from far away, so we will support them through national subsidies to offset any added costs. We will try to get boats that do not come to Iwate to come and bring their catches here, and will support efforts that will secure the fish that are their livelihood.”

How will you use AI, robotics, and other revolutionary technology that they’re calling “the 4th Industrial Revolution”?

“I’d like to increase the usage of AI, robotics, big data and other advanced technology in our primary sector. It’s also important for secondary and tertiary industries as well. With the cooperation of industry, academia, and government, we will strengthen our efforts in promoting technology, supporting development, and training workers.”

It’s predicted that the national government will make their decision about the ILC within 2018, but what will Iwate be doing to bring about the project?

“It will be difficult for the national government to make a decision without the will of the people of Japan to build the project. The related parties in Tohoku will band together as one to support the creation of the master development and spillover economic effects, and will convey that widely to the rest of Japan. We will also continue to look for more opportunities to urge the national government to make their decision.”

What are some of the most important aspects of the prefecture’s FY2018 budget?

“We hope to strengthen our support in raising athletes that will be able to stand on the world stage, like at the Olympics and other such events. I also want to put our efforts in continuing art brut exhibitions for people with disabilities, as well as improve working conditions in agriculture. In 2017, we had the most charter flights ever to Taiwan, and we would like to continue our negotiations with Tiger Air Taiwan in making their well-performing charter flight into a regular service flight.”