Hokkaido Experts’ Committee to select candidate site before year end

The Experts Committee established by Hokkaido Governor Harumi Takahashi to help give a IR bid political momentum vis-a-vis a skeptical prefectural assembly, held its first meeting on July 31. It declared that the candidate site would be settled by the end of the year.

While it would be a stunning development if they selected any site other than Tomakomai city, which has been among the most proactive local governments in the nation in seeking an IR bid, due consideration must also be given to the rival aspirations of Rusutsu and Kushiro.

The Hokkaido Experts’ Committee consists of nine members with specializations in areas such as tourism, regional development, and gambling addiction countermeasures. The chairman is Shuji Koiso, a former president of Kushiro Public University of Economics.

While there’s little doubt that Governor Takahashi herself favors an IR bid, a Hokkaido Shinbun survey published at the beginning of July suggested that most Hokkaido Prefectural Assembly members were inclined to oppose the initiative. The establishment of the Experts’ Committee appears to be mainly a part of a lobbying effort launched by the governor.

The Experts’ Committee is planning to meet four times, with its next meeting scheduled for August 30.