We are fast approaching the cutoff date for declarations of candidacy in the gubernatorial elections, part of the unified local government elections in Japan.
This is an important election for potential IR operators with the results potentially changing the direction of IR bids. And while much of the focus is on the Osaka and Hokkaido elections, even in the Kanagawa gubernatorial election, where Yokohama is located, the issue of “yay” or “nay” for IRs is creeping into debates.
The stance of current governor, Yuji Kuroiwa, is that a decision on whether to bid for an IR remains at the discretion of Yokohama city, the basic municipality. In the election, the LDP (Liberal Democratic Party), Komeito (Clean Government Party) and Democratic Party for the People (DPFP) have declared their support for Kuroiwa.
While at one time the Constitutional Democratic Party’s support was also requested, they couldn’t agree on a stance for IRs and the request was canceled.
There is a prime location at the Yamashita Wharf for an IR property in Yokohama under Mayor Fumiko Hayashi. Mayor is not one of the positions up for election in this unified local government election, but city council declarations of candidacy are on 29 March.
After the declaration made by the Constitutional Democratic Party, there are plans to run a campaign in opposition of IRs. Furthermore, on the opposing side, the Japanese Communist Party has made their policy focus point, “Let’s join together to form a city council that says NO to casinos.”
The opinions of the residents regarding IRs is widely divided.
Chairman of the Yokohama Koun Kyokai (port operations association), Yukio Fujiki, started off this year saying, “There are examples of problem gambling right in front of us. I don’t want that for Yokohama. We aren’t a town that needs to act so selfishly.”
On the other hand, Takashi Ueno, president of the Yokohama Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said, “This is necessary for the economic development of Yokohama. I would love to make an IR bid a reality.”
His comments can be interpreted as official support for the bid.
Yokohama undoubtedly harbors a lot of potential as a large-city IR candidate. Perhaps the will of the people in the Kanagawa gubernatorial election will serve as a trigger to get Yokohama moving in IR negotiations.