Yokohama IR plans face recall and referendum movements

Political parties and citizens opposed to an IR bid at Yamashita Pier are launching movements both to recall Fumiko Hayashi as mayor of Yokohama as well as to subject any casino construction plans to a popular referendum.

Casino opponents have held three rallies in recent days, one that gathered about 70 people on the 2nd, a second which brought together 1,200 participants on the 3rd, and yet another that involved about 100 people on the 6th. These appear to have been organized separately by different groups.

What unites them is their wish to block IR development in the city, although their precise strategy to achieve that result is what is now under discussion and debate, with some favoring focus on a recall movement against the pro-IR mayor, and others demanding a referendum on the IR plans.

A public opinion poll of Yokohama residents conducted by the Asahi Shinbun provides some degree of encouragement to the casino opponents. It found that most residents are personally interested in the issue and that 64 percent of residents oppose IR development versus only 26 percent in favor.

However, the poll also suggested that a referendum movement would fare better than a recall movement. While 59 percent told pollsters that a casino referendum should be conducted, views of Mayor Hayashi’s overall job performance were evenly split.

Allies of IR development will also make an effort to promote their point of view. The Yokohama Chamber of Commerce & Industry is expected to launch its pro-IR organization later this month and the Yokohama city government is planning explanation meetings for citizens in all eighteen wards beginning in December.