Casino battle lines emerge in Hokkaido gubernatorial race

As anticipated, the issue of an IR bid is becoming one of the top points of contention in the Hokkaido gubernatorial race. To stress the vital  importance he puts on the issue, Japan Communist Party Secretary-General Akira Koike, in a rare move, personally handed his party’s recommendation to the united opposition candidate Tomohiro Ishikawa at an event held, at Tomakomai Citizen Hall.

Ishikawa was nominated by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and is expected to have the united force of all the center-left opposition political parties behind his candidacy.

Ishikawa told the enthusiastic Japan Communist Party audience, “We aim for a prefectural administration that faces toward the people rather than staying dependent on the central government. We will create facilities for the futures of our children rather than casinos.”

Meanwhile, Governor Harumi Takahashi made her clearest statement in favor of an IR bid—while acknowledging that it will now be the next governor who will make the actual decision.

Speaking before a plenary session of the Hokkaido Prefectural Assembly on the 20th, Governor Takahashi stated, “Provided that thorough measures are adopted to address the matters of concern, it is important to promote the IR bid effort.” She had previously been reluctant to openly voice support for an IR.

As for Naomichi Suzuki, the conservative candidate with whom IR hopes in the prefecture now rest, he has avoided giving a clear opinion, citing positive factors, such as driving the growth of tourism, as well as negative factors, such as the possible increase in gambling addiction.

His ambiguous conclusion is that he will carefully watch the debate among the experts and the general public, and then form a policy by looking at the IR issue from “the citizen’s perspective.”