It has been almost three weeks since Governor Naomichi Suzuki shelved plans for an IR bid in Hokkaido, but while Japan’s regional IR focus has shifted elsewhere, one of the leading contenders in Hokkaido insists they aren’t going anywhere just yet.
Speaking exclusively with Inside Asian Gaming, Hard Rock Japan President Ado Machida expressed dismay at the Governor’s decision but said the company hasn’t wavered from its plans to develop an integrated resort on Japan’s northernmost island.
“We have only been focused on Hokkaido,” Machida said. “We have established an office in Tomakomai and have been promoting a bid. The company was planning to invest US$5 billion and expected to employ 15,000 to 21,000 people.
“I really don’t understand [the Governor’s decision] and I feel it’s a bit of a waste. An IR was expected to help drastically mitigate the problems of population decline, the declining birthrate, an aging population and the tax decline that comes with that.
“But we will continue our efforts for a future IR bid in Hokkaido. Of course, we are an official partner of the soccer team Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo and we will continue our sponsorship of the Sapporo Snow Festival.”
Asked why Hokkaido remains the best fit for Hard Rock Japan, Machida replied, “Hokkaido has a wonderful culture of food, nature and a pioneering spirit. It’s a great place. I want to incorporate those in an IR.
“In the recent questionnaire held in Hokkaido, nearly 70% of respondents answered that they had high expectations of an IR. I believe that if you explain what an IR is properly, it will be accepted.
“Unfortunately, the Hokkaido IR expo (scheduled for 11 and 12 December 2019) was canceled and it has been impossible to have a discussion with the Governor.”