Hokkaido leaders grapple over IR policy

The summer has brought with it some political heat in Japan’s northernmost prefecture as local government leaders struggle to determine whether or not Tomakomai city will be allowed to make an IR bid.

One recent symbolic tussle has been over an informational booklet published on the prefectural government’s website on July 17 titled “I Want to Know More about Integrated Resorts!,” which is being criticized by anti-casino observers of not being genuinely objective and informational, but rather a thinly-veiled work of pro-IR propaganda.

Shuji Ichihashi, chairman of the Hokkaido Prefectural Assembly’s Special Committee on Food and Tourism Policy, belonging to the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, was outspoken in his displeasure with the publication of the booklet.

His ire was not lessened when he was apparently told that the prefectural government does not need the assembly’s permission to post materials on its website.

Public opinion polls continue to show roughly 2-to-1 opposition in Hokkaido against an IR bid, though the municipal government of Tomakomai is eager to move forward.