Aside from three hard-line opponents of having casinos in Japan, some of the other five candidates in Yokohama’s mayoral election might have a more nuanced approach to the topic than has been reported, suggests a new briefing paper from consultancy Bay City Ventures Ltd.
The Tokyo-based company focuses on the gaming, sports and entertainment industries, and has produced a number of briefing papers on Japan’s effort to have casino complexes or integrated resorts (IRs) as they are known in that nation.
“The most important topic is the short-term and long-term future of the economy in Yokohama, and every candidate will likely put this ahead of the IR, which is just one part (albeit a big one) of a larger economic revival strategy,” wrote the paper’s author, Joji Kokuryo, managing director of Bay City Ventures, who also states he lives in Yokohama (pictured).
“Even on the topic of integrated resorts, the candidates are not simply divided into ‘for’ and ‘against’, added the paper.
It suggested that three of the mainstream candidates – Hachiro Okonogi, a senior figure in the Liberal Democratic Party that governs at national level, albeit he is running as an independent; Yusuo Tanaka, an independent and former governor of Nagano; and Yoshikazu Tsubokura, an independent who is board member of the Yokohama Wholesale Fish Market Cooperative Association – are against the IR for this election, “but they have not necessarily spoken out against the existence of IRs”.
The paper added: “Their stance is more focused on the lack of public support for the IR policy in the city, whereas [Takeharu] Yamanaka, [Shigefuni] Matsuzawa and [Masataka] Ota have labelled IRs and casinos as sources of evil that must be stopped at all costs.”
According to the briefing paper, Mr Yamanaka is an independent and former professor at Yokohama City University. Mr Matsuzawa is an independent and former governor of Kanagawa. Mr Ota is an independent on Yokohama City Council.
The incumbent mayor, Fumiko Hayashi, is said to support the IR policy, and is seeking her fourth term in office at the election, which is due on August 22.
Bay City Ventures’ paper stated: “The lower the voter turnout, the more important organised votes become.”
It added: “In an age where voter turnout is routinely less than 50 percent, the organised support and votes from the LDP and its supporters clearly puts Okonogi in the driver seat to become the next mayor of Yokohama.”
Yokohama concluded in June its request-for-proposal (RFP) submission period regarding commercial partners for its tilt at getting a casino complex. Genting Singapore Ltd, operator of Singapore casino venue Resorts World Sentosa, and casino operator Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd, operating venues in Macau and the Philippines, have been identified as the two contenders in the race. A decision on the winning proposal is to take place in the coming months.
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