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When Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi announced at a press conference three months ago that she would respect the outcome of any popular referendum on IR development, we took her at her word.
As Japan sinks into a deeper crisis over the Covid-19 pandemic, it would be natural that it might be overlooked. Indeed, the sensitivity of Japanese policymakers to overseas developments is often tenuous at best. But for the future of Japanese IRs generally—and for Osaka most specifically—stakeholders should be quaking with alarm over the most recent headlines regarding MGM Resorts.
Under the revised timeline, the national government is due to begin accepting IR licensing applications from local governments in October 2021. The chances that Yoshihide Suga will no longer be prime minister by that time are growing quickly.
If an IR is one day built in Tomakomai city, it will certainly be due to the dogged persistence of its municipal government, which has put forward yet another set of proposals to sweeten the pot and to encourage Hokkaido Governor Naomichi Suzuki to change his mind and authorize an IR licensing bid.
If the IR policy delays have created a threat to Yokohama’s plans that are primarily political, the deepest concerns for Osaka arguably relate to its effect on transportation infrastructure to the man-made island of Yumeshima.
The Nishinippon Shinbun, the leading regional newspaper of the Japanese island of Kyushu, editorialized on Monday against the IR development plan in Nagasaki that is supported by the region’s governors.
Yokohama anti-casino referendum campaigners have submitted about 205,000 resident signatures, more than three times the 63,000 that they needed to collect during the two-month period to trigger a referendum. The group is expected to ask Mayor Fumiko Hayashi to enact the necessary ordinance by the end of the year.
Mikio Shimoji, an Okinawa politician who admitted receiving a bribe offered by agents of 500 .com who were seeking an IR license in Japan, has been refused readmittance to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. As a result of his bribery admission, he was expelled from the Osaka-based Japan Innovation Party.