Governor Naomichi Suzuki has officially announced that Hokkaido has shelved its bid for an integrated resort (IR).
Despite strong support from local business groups, the Governor was eventually forced to pull the plug due primarily to environmental concerns, including the recent revelation that an environmental assessment could take up to three years.
Addressing the Hokkaido assembly on Friday, he stated, “As a result of careful consideration, I had reached the conclusion that I would like to give an IR bid a shot, however the candidate site is likely to be a habitat of rare animals and plants, and the appropriate environmental considerations would be impossible in the restricted schedule.”
The city council of the preferred site of Tomakomai had passed a resolution in October to promote a bid. Further, various Hokkaido financial groups, including the Hokkaido Economic Federation, submitted an extraordinary joint declaration urging an IR bid.
But the Hokkaido Assembly’s largest caucus, the Liberal Democratic Party, was divided and consensus could not be reached. This means that even if the Governor announced his own intentions for an IR bid, it was unclear if it would be passed by the assembly.
There was also much concern that the regular three-year period of environmental assessments of the site would run counter to the short schedule.
A survey of Hokkaido residents conducted by post, phone and in person had revealed that there was increasing anxiety surrounding a bid, and it was amid this atmosphere that the Governor shelved the plans.
The news will be most heavily felt by the likes of US tribal gaming companies Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment and Rush Street Japan, who had both put all their Japan eggs into Hokkaido’s basket, and Hard Rock International – another company to have established an office in Hokkaido.