The first half of Japan’s unified local government elections took place on 7 April with the candidates from Osaka Ishin (Initiatives from Osaka) winning the positions of Osaka prefectural governor and Osaka city mayor.
The race in the gubernatorial election was won by Osaka city mayor, Hirofumi Yoshimura and the city mayoral election was won by former Osaka prefectural governor, Ichiro Matsui, both in overwhelming victories over the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) candidates. This allows the Ishin party’s “two-top system” (meaning party members hold the two top positions in Osaka), which has been in place since 2011, to continue. Voter turnout was 52.70%, 2.19 points above the previous 50.51%, as reported by The Nikkei and other news sources.
Victory by Osaka Ishin means the party will likely now accelerate plans to develop and open an integrated resort on Osaka’s Yumeshima Island in 2024, before the 2025 World Expo.
The primary point of debate in the city’s elections was the Osaka Metropolis plan, which has been at the top of the list of Ishin policy since the party’s founding. Matsui and Yoshimura campaigned together in what came to be called a 3-legged race.
They actively pushed the point that, “We have been working on the prefecture and city reforms as one issue. We can’t go back now.”
They also emphasized their success in winning the bid for the 2025 Kansai Expo, making education free and privatizing the subway system.
While it’s hard to say how quickly they will look to make the Osaka Metropolis plan a reality, there is no doubt that Ishin is pro-IR.
Following suit, the Hokkaido gubernatorial election, which was the only gubernatorial election between ruling and opposition parties, was won by Naomichi Suzuki, former mayor of Yubari city and member of the current ruling party.
Suzuki has a positive stance on a future IR bid and operators around the world will be watching closely to see what type of policy he will formulate for such a project going forward.
Hard Rock International, Rush Street Japan, Caesars Entertainment, Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment and Foxwoods are among the global operators interested in developing a regional IR in Hokkaido.