Wakayama mayor reiterates commitment to foreigner-only casino

Wakayama Mayor Masahiro Obana made clear at a press conference on Thursday that he is not in full alignment with Governor Yoshinobu Nisaka over the project to build an IR at Marina City—he still insists that entry to the casino must be limited to foreign tourists.

“While I highly appreciate the prefectural government’s countermeasures against gambling addiction, the people’s concern remains deep-rooted. My view has not changed that it would be best to limit entry to the casino to foreigners,” the mayor stated.

The plans of the prefectural government, as well as the interested IR operators, presume that Governor Nisaka will ultimately bring Mayor Obana into line and gain his support for local Japanese to utilize the casino as well, but the mayor’s comments reveal that this has yet to occur.

Meanwhile, the prefectural government has been conducting a series of lectures in nearby cities to explain its IR plans, to hear the concerns of local leaders, and to gain greater understanding.

Moreover, on the 14th the prefectural government announced that it was establishing an eight-member Expert Committee with a mandate to help it carry out its IR development plans in Marina City. This committee, which will begin its deliberations this summer, will be chaired by Haruo Shimada, an economist who is also chairman of Tokyo Metropolitan University.