Table Speech

“Vitalizing the Future of Toyama” with the
Hokuriku Shinkansen --- from regional vitalization to nationwide vitalization ---

July 15, 2015

Mr. Takakazu Ishii
Governor of Toyama Prefecture

 The Hokuriku Shinkansen (bullet train) began operation on March 14, reducing the travel time between Tokyo and Toyama to 2 hours and 8 minutes. The number of passengers has tripled in the initial three months and Toyama Prefecture is attracting many more tourists, mainly from the Metropolitan area. The Rakuten internet reservation site announced that Toyama enjoys the highest growth rate of 1.91 times more overnight guests during this summer.

 Toyama also has superior aerial and marine transportation with Toyama Airport and Fushiki Toyama Port, designated as a Comprehensive Hub Port on the Japan Sea. The Port achieved 1.6 times growth in container volume over the past decade, much higher than the national average of 1.3 times.

 Toyama Prefecture is also blessed with attractive geographical and social conditions. It is less affected by natural disasters, including earthquakes, tsunami and typhoons. Its abundant fresh water resource leads to high ratio of hydroelectric power generation and stable power supply at lowest price.

 Diligence and progressiveness best describe the characteristics of Toyama people fostered in the magnificent, beautiful and sometimes harsh nature. Academic performance of primary and middle school students has been top-level, shown by the nationwide scholastic tests. Employees feel strong loyalty to their company, making Toyama enjoy the 2nd longest average length of service. Welfare recipient ratio remains low at 0.33%.

 Toyama is a leading manufacturing base on the Japan Sea side with its advanced industrial cluster. Pharmaceutical output ranks third in Japan. “Avigan” appears to be effective against Ebola infection, developed jointly by Toyama Chemical Co., Ltd. and the Faculty of Medicine, Toyama University. Toyama Monozukuri Research and Development Center was established in 2011, which has 39 world-class cutting-edge equipments utilized by 199 companies within and 133 companies outside Toyama.

 As for agriculture, Toyama is renowned for its high-quality rice production as well as horticultural crops. We must improve labor productivity, including the agricultural sector, as working-age population decreased by 13,000 people in Toyama (1.16 million in Japan as a whole) last year. Tonami city has the top production output for tulip bulbs in Japan, but the market has been overtaken by imported bulbs from Holland in the last two decades. Research results showed that Holland introduced high-tech farming that enabled harvesting bulbs in 20 hours after seeding per 10 ares, while it takes 224 hours in Toyama. Tonami City has set out to subsidize labor-saving automated cultivation jointly with Toyama Prefecture to achieve high-tech farming in the coming few years.

 Toyama has a wide variety of tourist attractions, including the Kansui Park and the magnificent scenery of the Tateyama Mountain Ranges and the Toyama Bay, which was accredited as the “Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club” by the UNESCO-endorsed NGO. The number of tourists from abroad visiting Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route has increased sevenfold in 11 years to reach 170,000 in 2014.

 We also focus on the development of human resources. All junior high 8th graders participate in a one-week vocational experience program in various fields including commerce and industry, agriculture and welfare. We also organize “Toyama Science Olympics” which is a unique initiative to stimulate children’s logical thinking on the principles underlying various natural and social phenomena and to expand their potential. “Toyama Kigyo Mirai Juku (Entrepreneurship School)” was launched 10 years ago to support business start-ups of young people, female and senior citizens. 70% of the students did set up their own business, including some successful business owners who won the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency Director-General’s Award.

 Toyama Prefecture has taken strenuous measures towards environmental conservation, including support to the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Northwest Pacific Region (NOWPAP) advocated by the United Nation Environmental Programme. We are honored to host the G7 Environment Ministers Meeting in Toyama City next year.

 We have carried out administrative reform over the last 10 years and downsized 21% of the general administrative personnel. On the other hand, we have increased the number of personnel with high degree of specialization, including physicians, nurses, teachers and policemen.

 By redressing excessive concentration in the Tokyo Metropolitan area, we can revitalize regional communities as well as achieve stable development of Tokyo itself. The National Governors’ Association worked on the government and created a new “taxation system for enhancing companies’ regional bases.” We expect the Hokuriku Shinkansen and regional vitalization initiatives will propel the formation of golden routes connecting between Tokyo and Toyama as well as between Hokuriku and Kansai areas. I believe we can vitalize Japan as a whole by supporting regions of high motivation to make further progress and creating attractive regions across the country. As a Governor of Toyama Prefecture, I am determined to commit myself towards the enhancement of new nation-building efforts.