Japan: prime minister supports anti-IR candidate in Yokohama elections

Japan's prime minister has given his support to Hachiro Okonogi.
Japan's prime minister has given his support to Hachiro Okonogi.

Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s prime minister, has given his support to former National Public Safety Commission chairman Hachiro Okonogi as a candidate for Yokohama’s upcoming mayoral election.

Japan.- In a recent interview, Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s prime minister has said he will support Hachiro Okonogi in the upcoming Yokohama mayoral elections. Okonogi has spoken against Yokohama’s IR plans.

Suga also encouraged the Liberal Democratic Party to support Okonogi, although pro-IR Yokohama mayor Fumiko Hayashi has confirmed she intends to run for a fourth term.

Suga said: “I thought there was no other person who could be the face of Yokohama. I will support [Hachiro Okonogi] with all my strength.”

Okonogi has said that if he becomes mayor, “the first thing” he will do is stop Yokohama’s integrated resort plan.”

Although Okonogi is not personally against the IR development, he said he could see that residents were opposed to the city government’s plan. “We have not gained the trust of the citizens,” he said.

Despite Suga’s support, local media reports believe Hayashi could win due to a large number of anti-IR candidates. However, due to the large number of people who are against the development of an IR, she is unlikely to win over 50 per cent of the votes.

Anti-IR candidates include Takeharu Yamanaka, who has been chosen as the candidate to represent the CDPJ.

Yamanaka is 48 years old and works as a professor at Yokohama City University. He is specialized in public health and medical statistics and has recently been working on anti-Covid-19 countermeasures.

He’s known to disagree with the development of an integrated resort, arguing that it could cause issues with gambling addiction.

Other candidates include Masataka Ota and Akiko Fujimura. The first is 75 years old and a member of the Constitutional Democratic Party. He has been elected to the Yokohama City Council for 11 four-year periods since the 1970s.

Ota said: “If I become the mayor of Yokohama, the casino issue will disappear that very day. To put it plainly, I will not do casinos.”

Fujimura is the representative director of an animal welfare group. She supported current mayor Fumiko Hayashi in the 2017 election. She has said she will declare the immediate cancellation of the Yokohama IR project if she becomes mayor.

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