Yokohama: anti-IR candidate wins mayoral elections

Yokohama's IR plans may be off the agenda after the mayoral election.
Yokohama's IR plans may be off the agenda after the mayoral election.

Takeharu Yamanaka of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan anti-IR has won the mayoral elections in Yokohama.

Japan.- Plans to develop an integrated resort in Yokohama are now in doubt after one of several anti-IR candidates won the mayoral elections held yesterday (Sunday August 22).

Takeharu Yamanaka, who was chosen as the candidate to represent the CDPJ, has cleared the 25 per cent threshold of votes needed to avoid a second round. 

The term of office of the mayor is four years, which means Yokohama is unlikely to participate in Japan’s first round of IR licences. Melco Resorts & Entertainment and Genting Singapore were the two remaining candidates to be Yokohama’s partner for its bid. 

Galaxy Entertainment had already dropped its bid claiming the business climate had been “exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.” Another contender, Shotoku, was dismissed after the Yokohama city government said its bid was below minimum requirements.

Yamanaka is 48 years old and works as a professor at Yokohama City University. He specialises in public health and medical statistics and has worked on Covid-19 countermeasures.

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

In June, analysts suggested that Yokohama’s possible withdrawal from the IR contest could leave the door open for Tokyo to bid for an integrated resort licence. However, a survey by a local newspaper found that 66 per cent in Tokyo are against an IR development and only 24 per cent are in favour.

Japan’s current IR bids status

The Nagasaki Prefectural Government has recently selected Casinos Austria International as its priority choice as a partner for its IR bid.

The company’s proposal scored 697.0 points. Niki Chau Fwu Group received 667.1 points, while Oshidori International Holdings Ltd, which had considered withdrawing from the process, received a score of 682.8 points.

The prefecture will make a submission to Japan’s national government by 2022 in its bid for permission to develop an integrated resort.

In WakayamaClairvest Neem Ventures has presented its integrated resort plans to the Wakayama Prefectural Government. In June, authorities accepted Clairvest as its IR partner after Suncity Group, the only other contender, withdrew from the process due to uncertainty caused by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Clairvest has partnered with Groupe Partouche SA and AMSE Resorts Japan Co to form a consortium for its bid.

In OsakaMGM-Orix has officially submitted its IR proposal to the Osaka Prefecture. Authorities are expected to approve the company as a private partner for Osaka’s IR bid in September.

MGM-Orix has proposed to invest JPY1tn (US$9.1bn). According to its request-for-proposal (RFP) application, around 20 firms from the Kansai region have agreed to take an equity stake in the consortium that would develop the resort.

Osaka had wanted its operators to add more MICE facilities beyond the requirements of national legislation but, according to Bill Hornbuckle, MGM president and CEO, the company’s IR may have less MICE space and fewer hotel rooms than expected.

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