Yokohama activists unable to scrutinise IR plans
City pushes ahead with IR plans despite Coronavirus lockdown preventing anti-gambling supporters from commenting.
Japan.- As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to hit Japan hard, anti-casino activists in Yokohama are finding it difficult to scrutinise plans for an integrated resort in the city.
Plans to apply for one of three IR licences were first announced last year, but had been met with strong opposition in the city up until the lockdown measures were introduced.
The activists have said that they won’t continue their protest plans until September but are disappointed that the Yokohama municipal government has refused the citizen groups’ call to delay its own policies.
Mayor Fumiko Hayashi has already said that “the schedule cannot be changed,” citing the national government’s application schedule has not been altered due to the Covid-19 crisis.
A coalition of citizens groups aiming for a popular referendum on the city’s IR development plans told the media on Wednesday that although they had gathered thousands of volunteers to operate their signature drive, “there are many elderly people at the activity site,” so were withdrawing protests to protect their health during the Coronavirus crisis.
Local citizen groups have also displayed their frustration at what they regard as the city’s “meaningless” ongoing public comment process, pointing out that Mayor Hayashi already stated in February that “even if there is a lot of opposition, that doesn’t mean the plan will be given up.”
Hayashi’s stance has already been denounced by the anti-casino activists who have labelled it “a denial of democracy.”
The activists say that “rather than the unnecessary IR, we should prioritise countermeasures against the novel coronavirus and the protection of lives.”