Who is Yokohama’s anti-casino mayoral candidate?

Yokohama's current mayor has rejected calls for a referendum on the city's IR bid.
Yokohama's current mayor has rejected calls for a referendum on the city's IR bid.

Masataka Ota plans to allure Yokohama voters on an anti-casino ticket as current major Fumiko Hayashi resists calls for a referendum on an IR.

Japan.- The Opposition mayoral candidate for the city of Yokohama, Masataka Ota, will run his campaign on an anti-casino ticket.

Ota 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.

He said this time he will run as an independent candidate. He has expressed his stance against Yokohama participating in a bid for an integrated resort licence many times.

Currently, Yokohama intends to bid for one of the three integrated resorts (IR) licences the Japanese national government will issue in 2022.

The city has issued the first draft for its IR implementation policy.

Ota plans to attract voters with an anti-casino platform, as current major Fumiko Hayashi, from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has supported the IR bid.

Hayashi, who will be seeking re-election, has rejected calls for a referendum on the city’s IR bid.

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.”

He added: “I have been consistent in my message that casinos cause problems and are not a good thing. I do not believe there is any other way to save Yokohama but to become mayor myself.”

He is counting on the fact that most Japanese people are against the liberalisation of gambling. A 2020 poll by Kyodo News found that 71 percent of Japanese residents are against the government’s plan to issue IR licences.

Yokohama’s proposed IR bid has the interest of several casino operators, including Melco Resorts, Sega Sammy, Wynn Resorts, and Galaxy Entertainment.

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