Fumiko Hayashi, the mayor of Yokohama city, said at her regular media briefing on Friday that she would abide by any ‘no’ vote that might result from any public referendum on whether to try to have a casino resort in that Japanese city.
That is according to information collated by GGRAsia’s Japan correspondent.
“If the referendum as to IR takes place and the majority votes for opposition,” she would “act as in accordance with the results,” the mayor was cited as saying at the Friday update.
Ms Hayashi was voted into her current term of office in 2017. Yokohama is due to hold a fresh mayoral election next year, according to publicly-available information.
Some people in Yokohama opposed to having a casino complex – a type of venue referred to in Japan as an “integrated resort” (IR) – have been collecting voter signatures in order to try to trigger a local referendum on the topic, and have now gathered the required number, as mentioned in reports of Friday’s briefing.
According to the update, a bill to permit a local referendum will be submitted to the city’s council “early next year”. No timing was mentioned for any such referendum in reports of the Friday briefing.
According to GGRAsia’s correspondent, the Yokohama city council must vote on whether such a referendum is held.
The council – as currently constituted – has a majority in favour of the IR policy, according to our correspondent. Most local economic-lobby groups are also said to be in favour.
On October 13, authorities in Yokohama said they would conduct a fresh request-for-concept (RFC) phase in the community’s tilt at getting a casino resort. The new RFC phase began that day and will run until the end of November.
According to local media reports, the impact of Covid-19 on planning for IRs, and on business projections regarding the profitability of running one, have been factors in the fresh RFC effort.
Earlier this month, Japan’s national government said it planned to start accepting proposals for casino resorts from October 2021. The proposed closing date for such submissions – to be made by local governments – would be April 28, 2022. That is a delay of at least nine months in the process to introduce casino resorts in Japan, a decision the national government attributed to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
A total of three casino resorts will be permitted nationally in a first phase of liberalisation. The policy has been presented as a form of stimulus for regional economies, in terms of drawing in tourists from overseas.
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