Discussion to make Lake Biwa Day a holiday was heated

The Shiga Strategic Meeting between Governor and Mayors, where Governor Mikazuki and the heads of municipalities are expected to exchange their views with each other, was held at Nagahama City Office on April 11. One of the topics discussed was the governor’s desire to make Lake Biwa Day (July 1) a holiday, provoking a heated discussion.

Eigo Tanihata, mayor of Konan City, who used to work for the Prefectural Government, opened the debate, saying “this is nothing new, popping up again and again in the past within the Prefectural Government.” The mayor showed his skepticism over the issue, pointing out that the public schools, which have difficulty in securing enough time for students to study, don’t have the luxury to follow suit. He also said, “it is impossible for Shiga-based corporations to stop their business operation on that day, while private companies in other prefectures are active.”

Yoshiaki Yamanaka, mayor of Yasu City, criticized the idea, saying “there are a lot of challenges that should be overcome, and unless problems and risks are clearly addressed, we can’t even start a discussion.” In addition, Masaaki Fukui, mayor of Takashima City, showed his cautious attitude. “There should be a logical framework which leads to the realization of the policy.”

On the other hand, Kazuhiro Miyamoto, mayor of Moriyama City, showed his favorable response, proposing that Lake Biwa Day is shifted to the first Sunday to avoid creating a new holiday. In response to this, Masahiro Nomura, mayor of Ritto City, said, “I couldn’t agree more, and we should deepen the discussion based on the premise that there are alternative ideas including not making Lake Biwa Day a holiday.”

“It is not our purpose to make Lake Biwa Day a holiday. It is just a way to raise public awareness regarding the current challenges of Lake Biwa,” says Governor Mikazuki, who commented that the prefecture would examine the opinions presented.

Lake Biwa Day was created in commemoration of the Ordinance for the Prevention of Eutrophication of Lake Biwa, which was enacted on July 1, 1980. Governor Mikazuki has shown his intention this year to explore the possibility of making the day a holiday, in accordance with the Local Government Act.

(Chunichi Shimbun, April 12, 2017)



Cool Biz Campaign has begun at Pref. Goverment

"Cool Biz" is an energy saving campaign, which encourages office workers to wear outfits appropriate for the office yet cool enough to endure the summer heat. On May 1, the Shiga Prefectural Government began the campaign, and most of the employees attended the office, wearing tie-free outfits.

In the past, the campaign would start on June 1 and end on September 30. However, in cooperation with the national government requesting the public to save electricity, the Prefecture has extended the campaign by two months since 2011, with its period covering from the beginning of May to the end of October. During this period, the Prefecture will set air conditioner temperatures at 28 degrees Celsius inside its buildings, and visitors are strongly encouraged to wear light dress.

"We hope not only our employees but also people who visit Prefectural Office or attend Prefecture-organized meetings will feel comfortable wearing casual outfits," says Takeo Sugii, Director of Global Warming Issues Division, who was also wearing a tie-free outfit.

(Sankei Shimbun, May 2, 2014)



The naming rights of a prefecture-owned park to be purchased by a Nissan dealer

The naming rights of Kenmin-no-Mori (citizens' forest), a prefecture-owned park in Ritto, has been purchased by Shiga Nissan Automobile, an Otsu-based Nissan dealer. The park will be renamed "Shiga Nissan Leaf's Forest," which is the first case of the naming rights purchased by a private corporation. Shiga Prefectural Government has been looking for companies eager to purchase naming rights of 23 prefecture-owned facilities, with their asking prices ranging from 0.1 million to 10 million yen per year respectively.

Naming rights are a financial transaction and form of advertising whereby a corporation or other entity purchase the right to name a public facility. This type of naming rights can be largely seen among sports facilities such as Ajinomoto Stadium and Kyocera Dome Osaka.

According to Shiga Nissan Automobile, Kenmin-no-Mori, a forest park covering an area of 14.4 hectares, matches the image of Leaf which is an environmental-friendly electronic vehicle manufactured by Nissan. The company will pay 0.6 million yen annually by the end of March, 2019.

"This name completely matches Kenmin-no-Mori," said Governor Kada at the signing ceremony held at Governor's Residence on February 13. "We hope that this will help establish the brand of Nissan as environment-conscious corporation, and will improve the image of Leaf which doesn't emit carbon dioxide," said Nobuo Oe, president of the company.

(Sankei Shimbun, February 14, 2014)



Fishing competition targeted at invasive species in Lake Biwa

A fishing competition, hosted by Shiga Prefectural Government, was held at Otsu Port on July 21, aimed at reducing invasive species in Lake Biwa. With 820 participants, invasive species such as black bass and bluegill were captured, which weighed 115.5 kilogram in total.

The competition also intends to do publicity on "Biwako Rule," a local ordinance which requests fishers not to release invasive species again once they catch them. In line with this policy, a sampling party was held at the venue, showcasing watermelons that grew with a fertilizer made of processed invasive fish.

Furthermore, as the Prefecture conducts "Biwako Rule for Kids," a campaign encouraging children to catch invasive fish by August 31, its registration desk was set up at the venue. The registration is still open until the number of participants exceeds 1000.

(Chunichi Shimbun, July 21, 2013)



Yasu City to attract a photovoltaic power station to the shore of Lake Biwa

Yasu City, Shiga Prefecture, is planning to utilize idle land of 24 thousand square meters on the shore of Lake Biwa by attracting a photovoltaic power station, also known as Mega-Solar, some sources say. The city office will invite tenders for a bidding shortly, and will determine a contractor possibly in October if things go well.

According to the sources, the land will be lent at 125 yen per 1 square meter for 20 years. The city office estimates that it will gain approximately 85 million yen through the rent and municipal property tax, and that it will be able to reduce the cost of removing weeds by about 30 million yen during the contract term. If the project goes well, the city believes it will get more profit.

"We aim at creating renewable energy by attracting the first photovoltaic power station at Lake Biwa, which matches an image of the clean lake," says Mayor Yoshiaki Yamanaka.

(Tokyo Shimbun, September 17, 2012)



1,100 people participated in Hikone's disaster prevention drill

Hikone's disaster prevention drill was conducted at Hikone City Gym on August 25, gathering approximately 1,100 participants including citizens and experts on disaster prevention. The training was done realistically, reflecting lessons learned from the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake.

The drill's presumption was that an earthquake, triggered by Suzuka Western Edge Fault Zone, would occur underneath the city when an approaching typhoon with heavy rainfall would make the level of rivers dangerously high. There were about 60 organizations involved in the drill including neighborhood councils, voluntary disaster prevention organizations, fire department headquarters, fire fighting organizations, Osaka Gas Co.,Ltd., and Kansai Electric Power Company.

During the drill, several mock tasks were executed. For example, DMAT (Disaster Medical Assistance Team), in cooperation of Hikone Police Station and Hikone Fire Department Headquarters, conducted a training of emergency relief activities, and neighborhood councils confirmed the procedure on how to ascertain residents' safety and which evacuation routes they should take.   

(Mainichi Shimbun, August 26, 2012)



Maibara: the lovely aquatic plant is in full bloom

Baikamo, an aquatic plant thriving in River Jizo running along the ancient route Nakasendo, Maibara, has become in full bloom. This perennial plant, known for its Japanese apricot-like white flowers, can be seen until the end of September.

With the river higher than the average due to heavy rain, you can enjoy the flowers "dancing" in the water. When the temperature rises and the volume of water decreases, the flowers will grow larger and can be seen near the surface.

(Asahi Shmbun, August 4, 2012)



Lake Biwa Museum collaborates with Nippon Life Insurance Co.

Lake Biwa Museum has started an exhibition at a "portable museum" in Nissei Life Plaza Marunouchi in Tokyo, a building for customers of Nippon Life Insurance Company.

The museum exhibits aerial photos of Lake Biwa as well as replicas of its endemic species such as nigoro-buba (Carassius auratus grandoculis) and Lake Biwa catfish (Silurus biwaensis). Nippon Life Insurance, which originated in Shiga Prefecture, sees this opportunity to boost over-the-counter sales attracting families enjoying their summer holidays. The connection between the life insurance giant and Shiga being the birthplace of it has made this exhibition possible.

"We hope our customers with their children will visit this exhibition," says the company's vice-president Sadao Kato at the opening ceremony. Governor Kada, who also attended the ceremony, added, "Lake Biwa is one of the most unique water sources in the world that 14.5 million people benefit from." 

(Sankei Shmbun, July 26, 2012)



Shiga Prefectural Government and ILEC to participate in Rio+20

The Shiga Prefectural Government (SPG) and the International Lake Environment Committee Foundation (ILEC) are to participate in the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as the Rio+20 Conference.

The conference will be held from June 20 to 22, and a cluster of pavilions, set up near the main conference venue, will open on June 13.

The Japan Pavilion, one of those, is to feature various exhibitions linked to the conference theme. Municipalities involved in the pavilion are: Shiga Prefecture, Tokyo Metropolis, Yokohama City, and Kitakyushu City.

The SPG is to set up a booth, shared with the ILEC in the pavilion, aimed at getting visitors informed about the Mother Lake 21 Plan which is a master plan designed to rehabilitate the balance between local people's lives and Lake Biwa, Japan's largest lake.

The ILEC, an international NGO financially supported by the SPG as well as other public/private entities, aims at raising awareness about the Integrated Lake Basin Management (ILBM), a concept that covers a wide range of management in regard to the lake environment.

"Current debates about water are inclined to emphasize irrigation and flood control, but they don't work well in developing countries. I will advocate the ILBM which requires public involvement in various fields such as agriculture, fishery, and conservation of ecosystem," says Masahisa Nakamura, the ILEC's Scientific Commiitee chairman.

(Kyoto Shmbun, May 24, 2012)



SPG's website provides information on fishing spots to catch invasive fish species

A new project gains popularity among citizens who like fishing.

Since March this year, the Shiga Prefectural Government's website has provided information on fishing spots on Lake Biwa suitable for catching invasive fish species. There are 73 citizens who have asked the SPG to provide them with more detailed information.

The project, which doesn't require financial resources, was initiated by prefecture officials, aimed at reducing the number of black bass and bluegill endangering the ecosystem. Those invasive foreign species have a habit of gathering around spawning grounds from spring to summer. According to a survey conducted by the SPG, there are 45 spots of those activities observed on the largest lake in Japan.

"In order to preserve the ecosystem, we would like to obtain public cooperation in getting rid of invasive species," says a prefecture official. 

(Chunichi Shmbun, May 11, 2012)