Shizuoka’s Makinohara city may be preparing IR bid

Operating below the media radar, there are indications that an IR bid may soon emerge from Makinohara city in Shizuoka Prefecture, a coastal community with a population of just over 44,000 people.

The initial tip came from a filing on Wednesday from Get Nice Holdings Limited to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, in which an MOU on a joint venture was announced between Genius Wise Holdings Limited (a fully-owned subsidiary of Get Nice Holdings Limited) and a company identified as Shotoku Rinaldo Corporation.

The filing explains: “The MOU is intended to establish a joint venture between the parties with an aim to develop the IR Project, through obtaining the integrated resort license at Makinohara-shi Municipality, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. The IR Project is featuring hotels, casinos, restaurants, shops, entertainment facilities and convention centers with approximately 400,000 square meters total floor area.”

The filing claimed that the joint venture had already secured its position with the local authorities: “the election committee of Integrated Resort office of Makinohara-shi, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, has officially issued the letter of confirmation to Shotoku Rinaldo Corporation on 3 October 2018, and Shotoku Rinaldo Corporation is the only candidate nominated by the committee to submit and present the IR Project (including a casino business) in Makinohara-shi to the state government of Japan.”

The Hong Kong filing identifies three individuals granted shares in the joint venture: Tamotsu Suzuki, Yoko Hoshikawa, and Lung Hon Lui.

The filing describes the Shotoku Rinaldo Corporation and its owners as having long conducted “business in Japan engaged in healthcare, medical equipment, agricultural products as well as gaming-related business in Asia. Shotoku Rinaldo Corporation is seeking the possibility of obtaining government permission and approval of having rights to operate holiday resorts in Japan.”

According to publicly available information in Japanese, the Shotoku Rinaldo Corporation was incorporated in Yokohama in August 2018 with JPY20 million (about $185,000) in capital, just several months before its apparent agreement with the group in Makinohara city. Tamotsu Suzuki is identified as the company’s main representative, but the company has no website or publicly-revealed telephone number.

Adding additional credence to the Hong Kong filing is the fact that there is a website is under construction by a group calling itself the “Makinohara IR Council.”

While most of the website is hidden from public view, some images can nevertheless be accessed which identify Takayoshi Kusuda as the committee chairman. This is apparently the same individual who is managing director of a local company called Nanen Kako.

The Makinohara IR bid, should it happen, would appear to put a keen focus on how an IR can serve as an evacuation center in the event of natural disasters such as typhoons, earthquakes, and tsunamis. The Makinohara IR Council predicts that it will create new employment for about 2,000 to 3,000 people.

The partly-hidden website also confirms that the Shotoku Rinaldo Corporation has already been selected as their IR operator partner.

The Makinohara IR Council would appear to be a private group of businesspeople. Asia Gaming Brief’s efforts to reach the municipal government were not immediately successful, so it is not yet clear whether or not they have local political backing.

As for the prefectural government, Governor Heita Kawakatsu spoke about the issue briefly at a January 4 press conference. He indicated that he would let interested local communities take the initiative if they wished, but he wasn’t proactively planning an IR bid.