Left-leaning opposition parties are stepping up their political push against the establishment of casino gambling within their local communities, provoking new developments in both the Kanagawa and Hokkaido gubernatorial election campaigns.
Kanagawa Governor Yuji Kuroiwa has seen his recommendation from the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan be withdrawn specifically over the casino issue. This opposition party has decided that it cannot support Kuroiwa’s reelection as long as he refuses to oppose possible IR bids from Yokohama or Kawasaki cities.
In the case of Yokohama, Kuroiwa’s position has been that it is up to the city government to decide whether or not to move forward with an IR bid. The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan has judged that his neutral stance is insufficient to garner their support.
Kuroiwa commented, “It’s extremely disappointing because I thought we had a good relationship at the prefectural level.”
While Kuroiwa is facing a challenge from Makiko Kishi, who is backed by citizens’ groups and the Japan Communist Party, it is likely that the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan’s will not seriously affect the outcome of the race. Kuroiwa has the continuing support of the ruling coalition and the centrist Democratic Party For the People, and so remains in a strong position.
Meanwhile, in Hokkaido, the united opposition gubernatorial candidate Tomohiro Ishikawa has made his opposition to an IR bid from the prefecture explicit: “I’ve been saying that I can’t agree to it,” he recently remarked.
Unlike the Kanagawa gubernatorial race, the Hokkaido contest could easily go either way. Ishikawa has been promoting the notion of a “Hokkaido Independence Declaration,” appealing to local sentiment which is antagonistic toward Tokyo and the Abe administration; while the conservative candidate, Naomichi Suzuki, has been emphasizing that he can be a pipeline to the central government that can attract funds and patronage.