An information request from the Mainichi Shimbun has found that Yokohama city, which had announced its intention to build an IR with a casino, had not created meeting records or minutes of meetings between Mayor Fumiko Hayashi and senior officials when the decision to pursue the project was made. Despite the large budget and divisiveness of the policy, this means citizens are unable to verify the decision-making process, the media outlet said.
On 22 August 2018, the city made the announcement that it would aim for an IR bid on Yamashita Pier at Yokohama Port. Citizens groups subsequently voiced their opposition and there remain active groups calling for a referendum and a dismissal request of Mayor Hayashi. In July 2017, Mayor Hayashi emphasized that she was undecided on an IR, prompting calls for her to explain how she came to decide upon pursuing an IR bid after winning election for her third term.
Hayashi made a decision at the end of July 2019 regarding the IR bid and on 31 July received a presentation based on materials titled “To Make IR a Reality” from officials, along with the four deputy mayors. A written summary of this process was announced at the city council in September of that year. However, there is no record of Hayashi’s actual remarks and the content of the discussion is not included.
In June 2020, the Mainichi Shimbun requested disclosure of meeting records, minutes and emails related to the decision. This month the city made full disclosure of four documents, including the “To Make IR a Reality” materials that were used in the presentation to officials in July 2019.
However, these documents summarize the financial situation of the city and the economic effects that can be expected from an IR, and are almost identical to the contents of the slides used at the press conference where Hayashi announced the bid. There was no mention of the discussion that occurred based on these materials, the outlet said.
Administrative documents that must be maintained are subject to information disclosure. Yokohama city’s policy defines administrative documents as those “used systematically,” and personal notes are not considered to be part of the public record. A city employee related to the IR project said in an interview, “Most of the time they would give oral instructions right there based on the contents of the meeting that she had made personal notes on.”
It may be possible that it was understood by the officials that records of meetings would not be made.
Hidefumi Amagaya, director of Yokohama’s Promotion Office, told the Mainichi Shimbun, “The discussion regarding the IR bid only involved a small number of people in a confidential manner and we were able to verbally share information.
“I don’t think I have kept [my personal memos], but the process up to the announcement of the invitation that have been disclosed are published on the website and can be checked.”