Anti-casino candidate enters Wakayama gubernatorial race

Wakayama Prefecture’s leading political activist against an IR at Marina City, Masayoshi Hatanaka, is throwing his hat into to ring to run as governor in the November 25 election.

Hatanaka, secretary-general of the Wakayama Network to Consider the Casino Problem, a local anti-casino organization formed last November, has gained the support of the Japan Communist Party. He has been a long-time opponent of incumbent Governor Yoshinobu Nisaka, having run against him in the 2014 gubernatorial election as well.

In 2014, Nisaka handily defeated Hatanaka with over 83 percent of the vote.

Last November, Yasuhiro Oe, a former House of Councillors lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, also announced that he would be running against Nisaka, but he withdrew recently when he was unable to secure the endorsement of his own political party.

For his part, Hatanaka explained, “I had thought that there were even better candidates, but I have long felt that we needed a candidate who would promise clear-cut opposition to the IR plan, and I was pushed to run by my supporters.”

He added, “Following the Liberal Democratic Party, they will use our money and personnel for an IR that will bring misfortune to our citizens and to the local economy. While some local citizens would benefit, many more would have money snatched from their pockets.”

In February, the Nisaka administration had responded to Hatanaka’s organization’s request for a copy of an officially commissioned study on the economic viability of the plan to establish an IR at the Marina City location by providing the documents almost entirely blacked out.