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Hokkaido governor adopts neutral posture on IR bids

With four separate municipal governments now considering IR licensing bids within her prefecture, Hokkaido Governor Harumi Takahashi made comments last Thursday indicating that she will maintain a neutral and largely passive policy posture.

Governor Takahashi expressed her understanding that while the prefectural government will have an official role to play in terms of making a licensing bid to the central government, the reality is that the local city and village governments are the ones who must take the initiative.

As for the specific issue of the new IR proposal published by the Heiwa Corporation, the pachinko and pachislot machine manufacturer, again Governor Takahashi indicated that she intended to stay out of it: “That’s a matter for the mayor of Kitahiroshima city to decide,” she declared.

It is at this stage unclear what role the Hokkaido prefectural government intends to play when it comes to handling the possibility of multiple IR licensing bids from its municipal governments. Hokkaido is effectively the only case where more than one city within that single prefecture is seriously mulling the possibility of constructing an IR.

Tomakomai city, however, is the only municipality in Hokkaido that is already in an advanced stage of planning, having already completed its RFI process.

Governor Takahashi’s passive posture is also quite distinct from cases such as Osaka, Wakayama, and Nagasaki, where it is the prefectural governors themselves who are among the most forceful advocates of the local IR bids.

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