Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi says the advantages and disadvantages of a planned IR and casino project will be only one of the issues of the upcoming mayoral election when her current term expires this year.
Speaking at a regular press conference, Hayashi said, “Large fundamental local governing bodies like Yokohama are not reliant on a single issue,” although Yokohama’s IR bid “had been much discussed and researched and thus should be argued as one of the campaign issues.”
Hayashi has not announced whether she will run for reelection in the mayoral election in August on the expiration of her term and told reports at her press conference, “I haven’t thought about that yet either.”
Masataka Ota, an incumbent member of the Yokohama City Council, has announced that he will run for the mayoral election of Yokohama as an independent. The 75-year-old has commented, “If I become the mayor of Yokohama, the casino issue will disappear that very day. To put it plainly, I will not do casinos,” expressing his strong opposition to an IR project.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the national government has postponed the deadline for applications to certify an area by nine months, with the application period now running from 1 October 2021 to 28 April 2022. As a result, Yokohama city will not be able to apply until after the summer mayoral elections and it is expected that the IR issue could have a signficant influence on the election outcome.