Prior to the announcement of the Tokyo gubernatorial election, an online joint press conference was held on 17 June by the Japan National Press Club featuring five of the many candidates intending to run.
The participants included incumbent governor Yuriko Koike, former deputy governor of Kumamoto Prefecture, Taisuke Ono, Takashi Tachibana of The Party to Protect the People from NHK, former chairman of Nichibenren, Kenji Utsunomiya, and Reiwa Shinsengumi representative Taro Yamamoto.
At the press conference, a journalist asked, “Can we clarify whether or not you are in favor of an IR bid for Tokyo’s waterfront?” Below is a summary of their responses:
Yamamoto: Can we be allowing “income from gambling” where the financial assets of Japanese people are given to an overseas company? This country is already overflowing with gambling. Sands has withdrawn and it is probably fair to say that Japanese IRs have reached a dead end. As the capital we should say clearly that we won’t do it, so why won’t you say it?
Koike, in response to Yamamoto’s question, said there were advantages in the promotion of IRs, particularly in foreign tourism and economic growth. There is also the disadvantage of gambling addiction. She noted that IR plans around the country were being delayed said she will make a comprehensive judgment and consideration according to these plans.
Ono said he supports IRs and expressed his belief that casinos can become a major attraction of the city, but added measures to tackle gambling addiction are essential. He also mentioned there is a need to make the selection process clear and transparent.
Tachibana said if there were measures against gambling addiction, then there is not too much to be concerned about. If there isn’t a casino in Japan, then domestic financial resources will continue to flow to Incheon (South Korea). He said an IR, including a casino, should “definitely” be built.
Utsunomiya said there were already increasing numbers of foreign tourists even though no casino has been built yet in Japan. He pointed out that Japanese culture, traditions and the natural environment are what attract foreign visitors to Japan. He said if there is an IR, there may be a breakdown in security, gambling addiction and debt issues. He said politicians should consider morals and ethics rather than the economic growth casinos could bring.