Yokohama Port Harbor Resort Association chairman Yukio Fujiki (90) held a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ) on 3 August where he shared his opinion on the upcoming mayoral election, to be held on 22 August.
Fujiki is the chairman and managing director of Fujiki Transportation & Stevedoring, which works mainly in Yokohama Port, chairman of Yokohama Port Harbor Resort Association and chairman and managing director of Yokohama FM Broadcasting. He is known as “The Don of (Yoko)hama”, holding a strong influence on political and business circles and is at the forefront of opposition to an IR at Yokohama’s Yamashita Wharf.
At the press conference, he emphasized, “The point is that no matter who becomes mayor, I will not let them build an IR in the port.
“However, if you want to build a tiny [casino] in a far, far off corner on the very edge of Yokohama, then fine,” suggesting that he’s not against IR in general, but is strongly opposed to operation of a casino in Yamashita Wharf.
“There are many people [who support casinos], betting their lives, but I will not allow a casino in Yokohama. I will never allow it. If a casino happens, I will commit seppuku and die on its opening day.”
“Seppuku”, also known as “Harakiri”, is a sensational Japanese term used for effect and it’s hard to know for sure what his real intention for using it was, but how will it be taken by the crowd outside Japan?
Reporters also asked Fujiki for his thoughts on the upcoming election, particularly allegations of abuse of power and academic harassment by former university professor Takeharu Yamanaka, whom Fujiki is supporting. Those allegations include reports from 15 university employees, secretaries and colleagues of Yamanaka who claim to have quit because of him, as reported in the magazine, FLASH.
“I don’t know anything about Mr. Yamanaka,” Fujiki replied
“In the end, he’s a friend Eda, who is currently in the House of Representatives (Kenji Eda, acting leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party and House of Representatives member), and I just left it to him. I don’t care who it is. Just as long as it’s not [incumbent mayor Fumiko] Hayashi. Hayashi is just acting like a robot now, she’s [Prime Minister Suga’s] marionette.”
Fujiki also claimed, “Hachiro (Okonogi, former Chairman of the National Safety Commission) will win the election. It must be Hachiro who wins.”
Surely this hit Takeharu Yamanaka and the Constitutional Democratic Party camp hard, after Fujiki previously expressing his support for him.
With the Yokohama city mayoral election approaching, the LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) was trying to muster up support for Okonogi, but after sudden opposition from part of the city council, who had previously promoted IR, the LDP decided no to support anyone and proceed with a free vote.
After Fujiki criticized the council saying, “The LDP council members are just [blindly saying] let’s make a casino, let’s do it,” he added, “Next year are the regional elections. I’m going to make sure all of you lose in them. You can all watch the movement to make them lose, not the votes. It will happen in Yokohama. Don’t give them your votes. I’ll publish a list.”
For those outside Japan looking in, Fujiki’s press conference added yet another layer of intrigue to this unpredictable mayoral battle.