Wakayama Prefecture, which has been pushing forward in the race for IR selection, has announced that it plans to open in 2024 should it win one of the three IR licenses to be issued by the central government.
The location of the IR would be Wakayama Marina City, a location which already has an established infrastructure.
The prefecture is hoping to enjoy a bandwagon effect from the likely IR facility in Yumeshima that Osaka is favored to win and has earmarked JPY200 million (US$1.8 million) in next year’s budget for the proposal.
The Sankei Shimbun is reporting that, according to related sources, the budget includes outsourcing fees to research IR performance and financial matters.
The candidate location of Wakayama Marina City is not far from Kansai International Airport and boasts many attractive tourist spots nearby such as the Koyasan – a World Heritage Site – and the famous Shirahama Hot Springs. Aiming to open an IR at the same time as Osaka, Wakayama estimates an annual four million visitors with an anticipated economic ripple effect of JPY300 billion (US$2.75 billion).
The fact that Toshihiro Nikai, Secretary General of the Liberal Democratic Party, is a native of Wakayama is expected to give the prefecture’s proposal some leverage.
On the other hand, the geographical proximity to the favored candidate site of Osaka has been seen as a negative. However, the government’s IR Promotion Headquarters has indicated the view that geographic proximity would not be a problem, giving Wakayama motivation to keep pushing for their proposal.
We can expect that both Wakayama and Osaka will try to promote their “Kansai Two Top” formation as part of their IR selection pitch.