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Tokyoites strongly oppose local IR bid


The near-certain withdrawal of Yokohama from the IR race has led some observers to wonder if this might clear the path for Tokyo, the largest Japanese market of them all, to step forward with a last-minute bid. However, a new public opinion poll suggests that this prospect is extremely remote.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has conducted discreet studies and consultations with private companies over its tentatively-named “Tokyo Bay Area Vision,” which explicitly includes the possibility of making an IR bid for the Aomi area of Odaiba.

For her part, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has for years maintained an ambiguous stance on the issue, often answering questions about an IR bid with variations on “we are studying the merits and demerits.”

However, a fresh poll conducted by the Asahi Shinbun in connection with upcoming July 4 Metropolitan Assembly elections suggests that any IR bid in Tokyo would run up against the same wall of public outrage that has been witnessed in Yokohama.

Asked the question: “Are you in favor or opposed to attracting an Integrated Resort, including gambling and a casino, to Tokyo?” The answer came back that 24% were in favor, 66% were opposed, and 10% gave some other response.

With at least 2/3 of the public stating that they are opposed, it seems difficult to believe that such an initiative could go through in Tokyo even if the governor comes out strongly in favor.

At any rate, for Governor Koike in particular, sometimes called a “populist” precisely because she always tries to stay on the positive side of public opinion, it’s difficult to imagine that she would risk her reputation in order to push through a deeply divisive initiative such as an IR. It would be very much out of character, and really has no political upside for her.

If this analysis is correct, then it now seems highly unlikely that any bid will emerge from Japan’s capital region, which has a total population of around 43 million people.

Then-Chiba Mayor (now Governor) Toshihito Kumagai dropped out of the IR race in January 2020. Yokohama is now all-but-certain to formally drop out of the IR race in August. And Tokyo, as explained here, is highly unlikely to plunge itself into a political maelstrom by entering a last-minute bid.

Michael Penn
Michael Penn
Michael Penn is a journalist and scholar based in Tokyo, Japan. As a journalist, he both writes print news articles and produces news videos. On the video side, he has several years of experience doing it all by himself: reporting the stories, shooting the video, and editing the packages. As a scholar, the bulk of his past publications have been about Japan's modern relations with the Islamic world.