Anti-casino organization to form in Wakayama

    Next Thursday, November 30, local anti-casino forces in Wakayama Prefecture will launch an organization aimed at defeating the initiative of Governor Yoshinobu Nisaka and Mayor Masahiro Obana to bring an IR to Wakayama’s Marina City location.

    The name of the new organization, which has been in the works since May, would directly translate into English as “Wakayama Network to Consider the Casino Problem.” The executive officers will be selected at the founding meeting on the 30th, but they are expected to mainly consist of local lawyers. The Wakayama Bar Association has formed the backbone of the prefecture’s opposition to casinos and issued a protest statement in June.

    The founding event will also include a public lecture by the lawyer Yoshio Inoue with the title, “How Consumers are Hurt by Gambling and Casinos.”

    Masayoshi Hatanaka, who led the preparatory committee to form the anti-casino organization (as well being as the opposition-backed candidate for the post of Wakayama governor in 2014), commented to the local newspaper, “There is not much time left to head off the casino bid. We must create an organization that spreads widely among the people and then quickly win the decisive battle.”

    Facing off against the lawyers and citizens group in that battle is the Wakayama IR Promotion Council, established on September 29 with Ichiro Takase, the senior prefectural planning department bureaucrat, installed as chairman, and backed by the Wakayama Chamber of Commerce and other elements of the business community.

    Wakayama has been planning to launch an RFI process early in the new year, but will be handicapped by their existing strategy of creating a foreigner-only casino, which will likely dissuade most international IR operators from making a bid for the Marina City location.

    Also notable is the fact that Yoshinobu Nisaka, the 67-year-old governor of the prefecture and the main promoter of the IR bid, faces reelection in December 2018. Yasuhiro Oe of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party announced at the beginning of this week that he will be offering a challenge to the incumbent, who has yet to declare his own intentions.