Kyushu IR alternatives to Sasebo under discussion

Although the Nagasaki Prefectural Government has been trying to consolidate “All-Kyushu” support for its IR bid, alternatives to the Huis Ten Bosch site in Sasebo city continue to be discussed.

Among these alternatives, Kitakyushu city is producing the most chatter, with a new report that “a major IR operator of Hong Kong that runs IRs in Macau”—presumably a reference to Melco Resorts & Entertainment—has suggested that a 25-hectare plot of land immediately to the north of Kokura Station would be a fine location for a Japanese IR.

Apparently, representative of this operator toured the area this summer together with officials of Kitakyushu city.

Last month, Kitakyushu Mayor Kenji Kitahashi revealed his stance on an IR bid, which is that his administration is not proactively looking for an IR site, but “if there is a concrete proposal, we would respond to it carefully.”

Although Kitakyushu does have significant advantages over Sasebo in terms of local population and much easier access to the rest of Japan, the odds still seem to weigh against a bid. The Kitakyushu City Council is said to be divided about the prospect and there is probably not enough time before the three licenses are awarded in order to really rev up a local pro-IR campaign.

Meanwhile, Kumamoto Mayor Kazufumi Onishi was asked this week during a city council meeting whether or not his city is considering an IR bid. The mayor made clear that he has other priorities, including recovery from the 2016 earthquakes, and that his administration would not be pursuing such a bid.

Finally, there has been some talk in the business community about Fukuoka city—the island’s largest city—as an attractive option for an IR, but there has yet to be any visible move in that direction.