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Parliamentary Interpellation before the Kobe City Council, by Councilman Toshihiko Yasui 28th November 2002.

"I will begin interpellation before us on the Liberal-Democratic Party New Politics Group.

The Mayor has worked hard with the administration and financial affairs at a time when city tax income has been greatly reduced, to revive vital revenue sources. In February 1992, the Mayor published the emergency declaration of financial affairs regeneration. I know the Mayor has been doing his best, taking such drastic measures as reducing city workers' salaries. However, I am concerned that the workers have become demoralized, like the section chiefs who do their best to help the administration reach their goals. I believe that the city workers' are happy to support the administration in these tough times by accepting reduced salaries, but that they feel sad because they can not realize their personal ideas or dreams. Regarding this, I'd like to ask how the Mayor plans to raise morale, and how he plans to adapt the policy to reward the Citizens during these difficult financial times.

Next. I've heard Kobe Airport construction is doing well and the island has been completed about 60%. Also the 3rd sector company that is the nucleus of the contract and who will manage the terminal building at the entrance to the airport has been established. So, the entire project is going well.

At this moment, we can see the Airport taking shape step by step. However, the business needs to cope with not only the hardware but also the software side. So I'd like to ask several points about this.

It is hard to figure out how the construction is progressing because Kobe Airport will be the airport on the ocean. I think this may be the reason that the Citizen's consensus levels are still low even 3 years after the construction work has started. We might need to be more aggressive in explaining the construction progress to the Citizens, so they understand what's happening. I'd like to ask about this.

Regarding the estimate of demand, I heard the demand estimation team has been called together and has started working on it. I wish a more detailed estimate had been completed before this. However, the estimate of the demand is based on past results and future projections. This is a passive process. I think we need a positive attitude to create airline interest and make Kobe Airport useful in sharing the role of Kansai's three airports.

I heard Hyogo Prefecture, Kobe City and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry began with Airport sales at the start of this year. However, I think we have to plan "how we will welcome guests from the entire country" by thinking about how airport use will unite Citizens, Companies and the Administration. I'd like to ask about this point.

Also, the airport is the facility which succeeds by providing air transit services. So I think we have to be aggressive in attracting airlines. So I'd like to ask about the administration's basic marketing policy. The important point is how much we will settle on as the landing fee for airlines. If this basic policy has been decided, please let me know, too.

Next is the problem of education.

The "National Congress of Education Reform" has understood Japanese education to be on the point of danger. Congress became disillusioned with the Education Basis Law, also known as the Constitution of Education. Especially, I'd like to note that started the discussion regarding patriotic spirit, and the Japanese identity, including respecting the traditional culture, home province spirit or national spirit, which was taboo since 1947.

On 14th November of this past year, the mid-year report at Central Education Council was presented. This included an appeal: "The role of each and cooperation of School, Family and Community" as Clause 2-4, Article 2, reforming and restating cooperation in the Education Community.

I know the volunteer educators at the Children's Club, the coaches and leaders of the Junior Sports like baseball or soccer, and Danjiri (folk festival) perform these vital community services without receiving any income. However, the City has a regulation requiring relations with these important volunteers via principals, schoolmasters/mistresses or vice principals. So they have no holidays. This is not enough. I'd like to ask how the City will interface with these organizations and how the City will exchange information about education. Also I'd like to ask how we plan to realize the three party cooperation that the Central Education Council is demanding.

Next, I'd like to ask about cooperation between Industry, Administration and Schools, an indispensable facet of creating industry in the future City of Kobe.

The cooperation between Industry, Administration and Schools is coming together because the university has the flexibility to begin forming these relationships. The Ministry of Science and Culture announced National Universities will become individual educational foundations. This is very important to the Cities. For example, Mr. Tanaka who works for Shimazu Industries received the Nobel prize, a very prestigious award. While Mr.Tanaka's work was valued by his company, his work was also important outside of his company, as highlighted by the awarding of the Nobel. His company delayed application of his work to commercial ventures, allowing him to qualify for this prestigious international award, a vibrant example of Industry and Academia working together.

It was possible to see the potential value of the whole biotechnology market, easily a trillion dollar market if we have cooperation between Industry, Administration and Schools.

The University is the same as a mountain of treasures. In the National Universities, individual teachers hold 85% of the intellectual properties, nationally. These are nearly useless possessions, because no-one knows who has what patent, outside the Universities. The Ministry of Science and Culture has started to investigate how to make these properties useful by setting up an intellectual property headquarters.

It is very important to plan relationships between Kobe University, Industries and us, City of Kobe. Luckily, the City has already started building this sort of relationship by assisting in the establishment of the Kobe Liaison Laboratories in June 2001, where medical machine science and robotic science will be researched.

Regarding this, I'd like to ask how the City is working to forward this relationship. And what the Administration will do. Also, how the City will make a place for the three aspects, Industry, Administration, and Schools, to meet, to finalize contracts and to encourage the formation of relationships.

Also, the City always says "Industry, Administration and Schools" but I'd like to suggest including the Citizens. People request the University. NPO, NGO or any associations available in civilian society. I think a time where people are proud of their University will come. This means we create the basement of the City not by making University the summit, but by creating the basement of the City by building the relationship between Industry, Administration, Schools and Citizen, like a circle. I'd like to ask about this idea.

Next, regarding the kidnapping of Japanese citizens by North Korea. City Council has presented a statement to the Government on October 9th, 2002. We have Ms. Keiko Arimoto, a Citizen, as victim.

And we have Minoru Tanaka, who has been cited as another victim, now. Mr. Minoru Tanaka was living in the Child care center in Kobe. He left Japan because his friend, an owner of a local Ramen restaurant, invited him on a trip. This person has been revealed as a North Korean ex-political maneuvering man. Mr. Minoru Tanaka had no relatives, so nobody worried about him or searched for him. Finally his teacher, Mr. Tomoo Watanabe, started to worry about him and appealed to the Governor. Mr. Nakase, a representative of the Rescue Party, presented a bill of indictment to the Police department of the Kobe Prefecture. Other investigators are doing their best to confirm him as a victim. I heard his case will be confirmed in the very near future.

As the Mayor, you should cooperate with the Governor and push the Government to put this case on the negotiation table between North Korea and Japan. I think this is best for the Citizen of the Kobe and for the Kobe native who grew up at the welfare facility in Kobe. I'd like to ask what the Mayor think.

Next, it is one year anniversary of Mayor Yada. It is too soon to have hopes for great results. However, we can see many changes.

The greatest change has been in the housing department. The housing department used to be mainly responsible for building and maintaining the municipal dwelling houses, maintenance of the public buildings and construction permits and certifications. However, today the housing department supports the civilian homes by not only overseeing rent support, but also by pushing the barrier free for the private houses, presenting ideas to the civilian houses to make them useful, and trying to grow the civilian household market. I can feel they are closer to the life of the citizen. Their job has changed so much, including opening the municipal dwelling houses as group homes to support regional welfare. This means the housing department's responsibility has expanded to not only oversee municipal buildings but to support all housing services for the entire City.

So then, we must consider, with our financial difficulties, how the housing department can continue forward to improve living environments throughout the City. Or, how to support the transitions of real estate between older and younger generations. Additionally, how we can plan to keep the housing department servicing the entire City, without returning to a simple municipal dwelling house department. I'd like to ask about these questions.

Toshihiko Yasui
OFFICE: 2-15-27 Mikage-honmachi, Higashinada, Kobe, Hyogo 658-0048 JAPAN
E-mail yasui@yasui.net
Voice 81-78-842-3020 FAX 81-78-841-3090

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