Public policy


The Shiga Prefectural Government unveiled a draft report examining the effectiveness of its measures dealing with COVID-19

On June 22, the Shiga Prefectural Government unveiled a draft report examining the effectiveness of the prefecture’s measures dealing with COVID-19. According to the draft titled “Recapitulation and Future Direction,” the emergency measures implemented gradually from late April were effective in preventing the infection from spreading.

On the other hand, the draft also points out that the measures triggered the stagnation of movements of people and products, impacting socio-economic activities. Besides, regarding the second wave predictably coming shortly, the draft underscores two points: the necessity of being careful of requesting businesses to temporarily closing their facilities and shops, and the importance of limiting their categories and areas.

As for the trend development of infection in Shiga, it peaked on around April 3 on an onset-of-symptoms basis, two weeks before the declaration of the state of emergency by the national government. According to the analysis, the infection spread during the three-consecutive national holidays in late March. There seems to have had a trend of Shiga following Osaka’s and Kyoto’s; after the number of patients in the two close prefectures increased, Shiga’s patients also increased.

Furthermore, in the draft, the Shiga Prefectural Government has summarized eight categories, such as the infection prevention programs, the medical care provision system, and economic/employment revitalization programs. Each category has the current initiatives, challenges, and prospective countermeasures to deal with the second wave.

Concerning the medical care provision system, for example, it is pointed out that handling COVID-19 has inflicted a financial burden on the hospitals, affecting medical treatment for other diseases. From now on, there will be 140 beds kept for the COVID-19 patients, and they will increase gradually preceding the increase of patients.

(The Nikkei, June 22, 2020)



COVID-19: Shiga Prefecture has shifted the “Warning Stage” to the “Cautious Stage.”

The Shiga Prefectural Government announced on June 6 that the current “Warning Stage” would shift to the “Cautious Stage,” the lowest alert level, at 0:00 am on June 7. The reason was that there was no patient reported in the consecutive 14 days. While recognizing that the infection situation is stable, the prefecture is going to call for the citizens to avoid 3 Cs, namely “confined spaces,” “crowded places,” and “close contact with people.”

Although the stage shifts, there will not be any difference regarding anti-corona virus measures adopted by the Shiga Prefectural Government. By June 18, the prefecture continues to request the citizens of refraining from visiting areas such as Tokyo and Hokkaido, where there are new patients reported regularly. The prefecture also unveiled its policy on how to lessen the regulation regarding events gradually every three weeks.

In a statement on the same day, Governor Mikazuki says, “From now on, we will gradually raise the level of socio-economic activities while making our efforts to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. Let’s move forward together.”

(Chunichi Shimbun, June 7, 2020)



Prefectural Government set up a study group on fermentation as the next key industry

The Shiga Prefectural Government (SPG) set up the Study Group on the Development of the Fermentation Industry in Shiga on September 6, intending to nurture the fermentation field as a key industry expected to lead the local economy. Shiga has so-called "fermented food culture" represented by funazushi (fermented crucian carp sushi), and it is largely believed that this food culture has helped the prefecture acquire NO.1 regarding healthy life expectancy across the nation.

The SPG is to have consecutive discussions with business leaders on the current situation regarding the fermentation industry and a possible industrial development plan, exploring the possibility of expanding business opportunities for growth.

The study group was attended by 7 experts including Professor June Shima of Faculty of Agriculture, Ryukoku University, fermented food producers, cooking specialists, chamber of commerce and industry representatives.

The first meeting was held on September 6 at “Unoya,” a public hall once used as a Japanese sake brewery, formerly owned by former Prime Minister Uno and now owned by Moriyama City Office. It was reported and confirmed that traditional fermented foods such as funazushi, Japanese sake, and soy sauce were produced in the prefecture and that there were several universities and research institutes specialized in agriculture and biotechnology as well.

“If small-scale enterprises network themselves with each other, it will revitalize the fermentation industry in the area as a whole,” says Kotaro Ikeshima, owner of HAPPY TAROU JOZOJO, which produces and sells koji (malted rice) and miso (fermented soybean paste).

"Small businesses are better at creating unique products, and this should be their strength," adds Tsuyako Kokabu, president of Kokabu Farm, which handles sweets using cheese.

“Local people think it is usual for them to consume fermented foods, but this can be appealing to people out of Shiga,” explains Takashi Aoki, secretary-general of Takashima City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which organizes study groups and shops.

Considering that the fermentation industry deals with various fields such as chemicals, medicines, and agriculture, the study group confirmed at the first meeting that the study field would cover medicines, cosmetics, bioplastics, bioethanol, and environmental cleanup.

The SPG is to organize several meetings to discuss the current situations and challenges, intending to incorporate an industrial development plan on the fermentation industry into the Shiga Industrial Development Vision, which will be revised within FY 2019.

(Sankei Shimbun, September 7, 2019)

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Shiga Prefectural Government is struggling to grow out of being an "exploiter."

Shiga Prefectural Government has unveiled that its 10 employees were engaged in more than 1,000-hour overtime work in FY 2016. Although the number has been reduced by half compared to the previous year which recorded 20 employees, chronic overtime work can still be seen among the Shiga officials. The Prefectural Government is making efforts to reduce it by 15% in FY 2017.

According to Personnel Division, there were 3 officials of Recycling Society Promotion Division whose overtime work exceeded 1,000 hours in FY 2016 because of an influx of workload to renew licenses regarding waste disposal. Two divisions - Child and Youth Affairs Bureau and Tourism and International Exchange Bureau - followed suit with 2 officials respectively. Financial Administration Division, the most “notorious” division in FY 2105 with 9 officials, had only 1 the following fiscal year. Hikone Family Consulting Center, which had 3 officials in FY 2015, didn’t have anyone engaged in more than 1,000-hour excessive work. 

The Prefectural Government has taken an emergency countermeasure to control overtime work since February this year, successfully reducing it in February and March by 20% compared to the previous year.

The Prefectural Government is in the process of formulating an action plan to cut overtime work per person by 15% this fiscal year, considering that the current measures already implemented are not effective enough. According to the plan, to be implemented are new measures: outsourcing administrative processes, enhancing standardization of business control, and introducing voice recognition software to take the minutes.

(May 27, 2017, Kyoto Shimbun)



Prefectural Government started this year's "Summer Eco-Style" campaign

"Summer Eco-Style," a Prefectural Government's campaign encouraging its employees to work in business casual attire, started on May 1. The prefecture's employees, wearing neither jackets nor ties, could be seen at the Prefectural Government building complex on the first day. This campaign continues to the end of October.

The campaign began in 1979, with the aim of giving the employees a healthy work environment, and of controlling temperature properly in the buildings. During the campaign, the prefectural officials are encouraged to wear light clothes while demonstrating “trust and integrity.” They are also recommended to wear clothes made of locally-produced textures such as Takashima cotton crepe and Koto hemp fabric.

A 32-year-old official wearing a shirt with half sleeves, who belongs to Global Warming Issues Division, says, "This is very comfortable. I think it's going to be very hot soon, and I want to overcome the heat with lighter clothes."

(Sankei Shimbun, May 2, 2017)



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)



Crisis Management Center to get operational in January 2016

The cornerstone-laying ceremony for the Shiga Prefecture Crisis Management Center was held on July 15. The Center, which had been constructed recently, will become operational in January 2016 after installing the equipment and the wireless-activated disaster warning system.

The Shiga Prefectural Government (SPG) has used Prefectural Assembly Committee Room as a base facility in an emergency, but it has been pointed out that making the Room operational would take time in spite of the need to handle the disaster as soon as possible. To address the issue, SPG started constructing the Center in January 2014 and completed the construction in June 2015.

The Center is a five-story building with its floor space being approximately 5,460 square kilometers. The building, where SPG’s Disaster and Crisis Management Bureau is to be located, has Operation Room where information is to be collected and analyzed, Disaster Prevention Room where SPG is to collaborate with Self-Defense Force and Fire Brigade, and a warehouse where emergency drinking water and food are to be in storage. The total construction cost is approximately 6 billion yen.

"Nobody knows when disasters such as earthquakes and storm and flood damage will occur. I will ensure everyone’s security and safety, by making good use of the Center,” Governor Mikazuki said in his speech at the ceremony. After the speech, a cornerstone box made of stainless steel was buried in the ground, containing several newspapers published on that day, commemorative coins issued this year, and a blueprint of the building.

(Sankei Shimbun, July 9, 2015)



Shiga-produced beef to be exported to the Philippines

Shiga-produced beef called "Omi beef" will be exported to the Philippines from June 23. This island country in Southeast Asia will be the fourth destination for the Shiga Meat Center, a processing facility dealing with Shiga-produced beef, to export Omi beef to. "We will dig into markets as many as possible," says Governor Yukiko Kada with great enthusiasm.

According to the Shiga Prefectural Government, delegates of the Philippine Government inspected and evaluated the Center in June 2013, and based on the results, in May 2014 Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare gave the Center a license to do business with the Philippines.   

Starting with Macau as the first destination, the Center has been exporting the beef since June 2010, and Singapore and Thailand were later included in the list. The amount of beef exported to the three destinations in FY 2013 is 18 tons, which is equivalent to 304 head of cattle. "According to the local people, Omi beef, which is soft and has a high degree of marbled fat, has gained a good reputation as tasty high-quality Japanese beef," confidently says a Prefectual Goverment official.

In addition, Omi beef is exported to Hong Kong via a different processing facility located out of the prefecture. "The domestic market is shrinking due to decrease in population, and we expect a huge potential in Southeast Asian countries as their economies are expanding," says the official.

(Chunichi Shimbun, June19, 2014)



Shiga became a member of Water and Environment Solution Hub

The Shiga Prefectural Government (SPG) announced on March 31 that it had been registered as a member of the Water and Environment Solution Hub (WES Hub), a nationwide alliance which consists of local governments to internationally promote Japan's technologies and policies regarding environmental or water supply infrastructure throughout the world.

WES Hub was established by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in April 2012, and local governments which have made pioneering effort to export their sewage systems have joined the alliance.

With Omi Environment Plaza being as a center for research and development, SPG is to promote their water and environmental technologies overseas and to help Shiga-based corporations dig into international markets in cooperation with the Shiga Aquatic Environmental Business Promotion Forum.

(My Navi News, April 10, 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)