Nagasaki has long appeared one step ahead of other IR candidate areas in Japan, but as time goes on there are increasing complaints that funding and consortium members remain unclear.
In August 2021, Casinos Austria International Japan (CAIJ) was selected by Nagasaki prefecture as a potential IR operator. There were claims of problems in the selection process from the unsuccessful operators, but the prefecture proceeded and signed a basic agreement with CAIJ that month.
The prefecture is aiming to submit a bid for development of an IR at Huis Ten Bosch with an estimated business scale of JPY 350 billion (US$3.04 billion) and annual visitor count of 8.4 million.
Nagasaki was the first of the three bidding cities to release its regional development plan draft and is in the middle of accepting public comments which began on the 21st of last month and will last until the 17th of this month. Nagasaki prefecture plans to incorporate these opinions into its regional development plan. All of these facts make Nagasaki appear one step ahead of the other local governments aiming for bids.
However, there are complaints of lack of transparency regarding issues such as how the operator will procure capital and the companies that will make up the main operating body.
CAIJ president Akio Hayashi stated, “We cannot reveal the names of the companies until the Nagasaki Prefectural Assembly in March 2022 [due to sensitive information of participating companies].”
At this stage, it has been conveyed that luxury hotel brand Hyatt as well as Austria’s 5-star Hotel Sacher are considering participation, while Kadokawa subsidiary Dwango is expressing interest in IR facility operations. Red Bull and Swarovski, which are based in Austria, have also made it clear that they want to be part of the project. However, nothing has been revealed about the main members of the consortium for Nagasaki, unlike in the overview of Osaka’s regional development plan draft released on 21 December 2021.
Regarding capital procurement, a person involved in the project would only tell IAG, “We are in the stage of increasing the degree of certainty.” It’s not clear if this was a suggestion that financing is still up in the air or not, but surely clearing up these two points (consortium members and funding procurement) would catapult Nagasaki’s IR bid forward.
Nagasaki’s pending gubernatorial election in February also cannot be ignored. Incumbent Hodo Nakamura held his final prefectural assembly on 21 December 2021 where he said, “It is my duty to put everything I have into taking on the remaining issues, bringing the seeds I’ve planted to bud and blossom and then returning the fruit to the people of Nagasaki,” indicating he will be running for reelection.
Although Nagasaki is stable politically, if an anti-IR candidate managed to win this election there is still a possibility the entire process could be scrapped as it was in Yokohama.
Nagasaki prefecture and CAIJ are continuing to fine-tune the regional development plan draft aiming for prefecture assembly approval and submission by the 28 April deadline.