Approximately 94 percent of citizens in Yokohama City expressing a view on the idea of a casino resort indicated “negative” opinions. The topic of casino resorts arose in the context of a local-government survey on public policy.
The urban centre is Japan’s second-largest city by population, according to data from the country’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
The local concern on the casino topic was voiced in findings – released on Tuesday – of a survey conducted by the city’s government between May 14 and June 22 this year. The specific nature of citizen concern was not outlined in reports about the survey findings.
Japanese brokerage Nomura had last autumn identified Yokohama City (pictured) as a prime candidate for a casino resort.
Individuals and community groups were asked in the just-disclosed survey for their opinions on the city’s “mid-term, four-year plan” – a document covering possible public policy options during the period 2018 to 2021. The city’s policy division is in charge of overseeing the survey.
According to information gathered by GGRAsia, a total of 830 individuals or entities submitted views on all public policy matters, and 2,129 distinct opinions were expressed via the survey.
Comments on the idea of hosting a casino resort – known in the Japanese context as an integrated resort or “IR” – accounted for 20 percent of all opinions submitted on public policy.
According to publicly-available information, the mayor of Yokohama, Fumiko Hayashi – who was re-elected in July 2017 for a third consecutive term – had at one stage spoken in favour of hosting a casino resort, but turned “neutral” on the topic in January 2017, in the run-up to the mayoral poll that year.
The city’s government is said to have so far followed her lead on the casino matter. Ms Hayashi represents the Democratic Party, which at national level is in opposition to the current governing coalition led by the Liberal Democratic Party.
According to GGRAsia’s information, the city government will discuss the mid-term plan and the public comment on it – and make a resolution on the plan – during the third term of the city congress, which is due to run from September 10 to October 26.
Yokohama City is known under Japan’s administrative system as an ordinance-designated city, and is therefore permitted to submit in its own right – if it wishes – a request for a casino resort.
The IR Implementation Act, passed in July by the country’s parliament, allows for only three casino resorts in the first stage of liberalisation.
The Nikkei news outlet reported recently that representatives from a total of 40 local governments had attended in August briefing sessions by Japan’s Office of Integrated Resort Regime Promotion – known as the IR Promotion Secretariat – on the IR policy issue.
The government of Kanagawa Prefecture, the area where Yokohama City is located, has not so far stated publicly a position on the casino resort question.
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President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China