Nagasaki prefecture has sent a “questionnaire” to the Japan Tourism Agency, asking for more information on how the national authorities arrived at the December 27 announcement that Nagasaki’s plan for an integrated resort (IR) with casino at Sasebo (pictured) had not been approved.
Depending on the answers, the prefecture will decide whether to persist with its aim of getting an IR as a way of boosting its local and regional economy.
The news on the request for more information was given on Tuesday, at an all-member meeting of Nagasaki Prefectural Assembly, at which Nagasaki governor Kengo Oisihi was questioned by seven assembly members about the implications of the central authorities’ decision, according to information reviewed by GGRAsia’s Japan correspondent.
Four out of the seven members that spoke, asked the prefecture to continue with the IR policy and to request the right to have one, in any future application window announced by the national government.
The prefecture said in a Tuesday statement regarding its follow-up on the non-approval of its existing IR District Development Plan: “On January 12, the prefecture sent a questionnaire to the [Japan Tourism] agency regarding how they examined and evaluated the plan.”
It added: “The prefecture will look into the response of the agency and review all the processes the prefecture has taken.”
Once that had been done, “the prefecture will decide whether to keep going on with the IR [bid] or not,” added the statement.
“At this moment, the governor thinks that the IR policy takes a lot of effort, money and time and he has to be cautious in making a decision,” the update further noted.
When the tourism agency – a body under the country’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism – made its December announcement of non-approval for Nagasaki’s IR plan, it held a press conference mentioning that the prefecture would be able to submit a fresh plan for the next application window if it wished.
But the agency had nothing definite to say about the timing of a new application window, outlining that it can only be determined by an order of the national government cabinet, based on any proposal the tourism agency might make.
GGRAsia’s Japan correspondent said Mr Oishi’s Tuesday reference to costs for persisting with an IR policy were understood in Japan to mean keeping Nagasaki’s IR Promotion Division, and securing a budget for it.
Possible tasks could be: developing a new IR concept; launching a fresh request for proposal and selecting another IR developer; and creating another IR District Development Plan as or when the national authorities open a new round of applications.
In its current application, Nagasaki’s IR Promotion Division had identified the private-sector partners for an IR as “Casinos Austria International Japan” and “Kyushu Resorts Japan and advisors”.
A figure of JPY438.3 billion (US$2.96 billion currently) has been mentioned for the fundraising for the Nagasaki scheme. The national authorities’ response had questioned the viability of the funding arrangements.
Tuesday’s statement from Nagasaki said: “The prefecture feels that there are huge gaps between the ways the prefecture thinks and the agency thinks.”
It added: “The prefecture feels that the agency has great discretion when evaluating the plan.”
Nagasaki added: “The prefecture has consulted with financial institutions with IR finance experience and [with] advisors. The prefecture considers that their plans of consortium building and fundraising are in line with international business standards.”
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