Nagoya mayor announces IR study amid cloudy prospects

Despite the less than enthusiastic posture of other important local leaders, Nagoya Mayor Takeshi Kawamura is pushing ahead with investigations of a possible IR bid from his central Japanese city.

At his regular press conference on July 30, Kawamura indicated that he would be establishing an expert study group later this summer, with particular attention being given to views from the local hotel industry.

Mayor Kawamura noted that building a casino alone was no guarantee of prosperity: “There are examples of success and examples of failure. We need to investigate deeply.”

Among other major challenges, Mayor Kawamura’s strained personal relationship with Aichi Governor Hideaki Omura is a serious impediment. The governor has already offered an icy observation about the mayor’s unexpected IR initiative: “I hear that the city administrators are bewildered about it, but I have no particular comment.”

Indeed, there was a report that Nagoya city bureaucrats are unclear about just where the mayor thinks that an IR can be built near JR Nagoya Station. There is no obvious plot of land in the vicinity waiting to be developed.

Mayor Kawamura also received a serious rebuff from Central Japan Railway Company Chairman Koei Tsuge, who announced a couple weeks ago that, “an IR doesn’t match the role of Nagoya Station,” and also cast doubt on the notion that any land of sufficient size could be secured in that general vicinity.

Before Mayor Kawamura unexpectedly expressed his interest in an IR bid, Governor Omura had been carefully considering for over a year a possible bid from the same prefecture’s Tokoname city, host to the Chubu Centrair International Airport. While Omura has yet to announce proactive support for Tokoname’s bid, he seemed to be moving in that direction, and Mayor Kawamura’s initiative is obviously quite unwelcome to him.