Japan’s Current Corp, a firm previously linked with interest in developing an integrated resort (IR) in Nagasaki, says one of the group’s units, Shotoku Corp, is acting as an “advisor” to Shinjo City, in Yamagata prefecture, in the Tohoku region of Japan’s main island, “with the aim of attracting” an integrated resort project there.
That is according to Hidenobu Takagi, an executive of Shotoku Corp, in an email sent to GGRAsia.
“On the 10th of this month, the Shinjo City IR Attraction Committee was established with the aim of attracting an IR to Shinjo City, Yamagata prefecture, and Shotoku Corp was appointed as an advisor by the committee,” stated Mr Takagi.
He added: “Shotoku Corp will provide multifaceted support for the attraction of the IR in Shinjo city.”
Shinjo city is a small community of circa 35,000 people, close to Yamagata City. The latter settlement has about 250,000 inhabitants and is the prefectural capital.
In an email exchange with GGRAsia, Mr Takagi said: “Shotoku Corp is not a bidder at the moment, as Yamagata prefecture has not yet made an open call,” regarding a casino resort.
The executive clarified that Shotoku Corp would be “willing to bid” to be a partner for such a scheme, were a process to “open” regarding a casino resort in Yamagata prefecture.
Mr Takagi said that at this time he could not reveal details of the concept, but highlighted that “onsen” and “countryside” would be “important keywords”. The term ‘onsen’ is Japanese for a type of hot-spring resort popular with domestic and foreign visitors.
The window for Japanese local governments to apply for the right to host an IR in the first phase of liberalisation, opened on October 1, and runs until April 28 next year.
Mr Takagi said additionally that a “local consortium” was “actively lobbying the city [Shinjo] and the prefecture to ensure that the process moves forward as quickly as possible”. But he would not comment “regarding the intentions of Yamagata prefecture” in relation to making a pitch to the national government.
He noted that the “prefecture does not necessarily have to follow” a process involving a request-for-concept and then a request-for-proposal, “for the selection of the operator,” as has happened elsewhere in Japan.
The executive stated, referring to other prefectures that had expressed interest in hosting an IR, but then decided against it: “There have been cases where the process has taken a long time, but the result has been a setback.” Shinjo and Yamagata prefecture “have at least taken these points into account,” said Mr Takagi.
He further noted: “We have had discussions with entrepreneurs in Fukushima prefecture and other parts of the Tohoku region about this Shinjo IR, and they are supportive of it and are aware of the idea that it will help rebuild Tohoku region.”
Under Japan’s liberalisation programme, up to three resorts will be permitted nationally. Currently, only three local communities are in the running for respectively hosting a large-scale integrated resort (IR). They are: Osaka, Nagasaki, and Wakayama.
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