Wakayama prefecture governor, Yoshinobu Nisaka, held a press conference at the prefectural office on Wednesday where he announced that Clairvest Neem Ventures, a subsidiary of Canadian investment firm Clairvest Group, had been selected to proceed with the prefecture’s IR bid.
This makes Clairvest the first IR operator partner to be announced among the four regions known to be pursuing one of three IR licenses to be issued by Japan’s national government (the others being Osaka, Yokohama and Nagasaki). The prefecture is hoping to open its facility in spring 2026 although Clairvest has proposed autumn 2027.
According to information published by the prefecture on Wednesday, Clairvest’s IR concept is based on a theme of “land of wood and a land of water” with nature at its core. The total floor area of the facility will be about 569,000 square meters, of which a casino facility will cover around 38,000 square meters.
It will also offer 2,700 rooms and an international exhibition hall with a large conference hall that can accommodate 3,000 people.
Notably, Clairvest has proposed an investment of JPY470 billion (US$4.3 billion) versus the JPY279.9 billion (US$2.6 billion) suggested by Wakayama under its fundamental concept. Both the scale of investment and target number of visitors put forward by Clairvest are therefore much larger than Wakayama’s own estimations.
The IR is planned to be built on an artificial island called Wakayama Marina City in Wakayama city.
The selection of Clairvest comes after Suncity Group withdrew from the race, citing an uncertain global business environment, last month. It was revealed Wednesday that Suncity had in fact scored higher than Clairvest based on the IR selection committee’s initial assessment.
Their absence had sparked suggestions Wakayama may itself withdraw from the Japan IR race, but after deciding to name Clairvest as its partner, Governor Nisaka said Wednesday, “We can take the next step with confidence. Moreover, we will probably be able to obtain national approval if we improve on the plan.”
Nisaka compared his prefecture’s progress with Osaka, Yokohama and Nagasaki, stating, “Our process is the fastest and has the most certainty.”
According to materials released by the prefecture, the proposal documents from the two parties were examined three times by the operator selection committee before its finding were handed to the prefecture on 30 April showing Suncity had achieved the higher score. Suncity announced its withdrawal on 12 May.
A local organization comprising 100 private companies said, “Suncity had spoken with locals and was promoting regional sports. In comparison, Clairvest has not been visible.”
In an interview with NHK, Clairvest Group said, “It is a great honor to be selected as a preferential candidate in the operator open recruitment. We hope to realize an IR ideal for Wakayama and create a wonderful plan with the prefecture based on sufficient discussion with the people of Wakayama. We will do everything we can to be selected by the national Japanese government.”
Wakayama added, “The selection of a priority candidate takes us another step closer to realizing a Wakayama IR. We want to work together closely with the prefecture and make every effort to create the best plan for Wakayama as a city.”