Hokkaido municipalities make their IR cases

The Experts Committee established by Hokkaido Governor Harumi Takahashi held its second meeting on August 30, this time hearing presentations from the three municipalities—Tomakomai, Rusutsu, and Kushiro—which are nominally in the race for prefectural government’s support.

While each of the local governments made the effort to pitch their own unique IR concepts, there’s not much doubt that Tomakomai is well ahead of the other two, both in terms of the economic impact that can be expected, as well as in the degree to which its relationship with international IR operators has advanced.

It was stated that an IR at Tomakomai would have an estimated annual economic ripple effect valued at almost JPY200 billion (US$1.8 billion), a figure almost double that of Rusutsu village, its closest competitor. The Tomakomai authorities also explained that they had already received business proposals from fifteen international and Japanese companies.

As for the anti-casino movement in Tomakomai, they acknowledged that a petition against the IR plan had managed to gather 11,000 signatures, but they explained that not all of the names were those of people who live within the city.

It was also revealed that the land in the Uenae district, where the Tomakomai IR is envisioned to be located, will likely have its ownership transferred from a private company to the municipal government.

The Tomakomai authorities also gave a sense of the kind of consortium they are expecting, with the IR operator making an investment of between 30-60 percent of the cost and Japanese firms of various types contributing the balance.

The third meeting of the Experts Committee is scheduled for October 17 with countermeasures against gambling addiction and other negative social effects on the agenda.