Miyagi Prefecture Reopens Possibility of IR Bid

Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai has reversed course and now appears willing to consider an IR bid by his prefecture in the Tohoku region, a possibility that he had once dismissed last June as impractical.

“It’s a complete blank slate,” Murai declared this week, “It’s a matter which must be considered with extreme care. We must investigate the possibility before we can make a judgment on whether or not to proceed.”

Giving concreteness to his declaration is the fact that 5 million yen (about US$45,500) has been budgeted by his prefectural government to research the social impact and economic effects of hosting an IR.

Murai’s tone is considerably different from what he had said last June, when he concluded that an IR “could not be very profitable in our prefecture” because “the local population is small and there aren’t enough tourists.”

Notions of making an IR bid from Miyagi Prefecture were first launched in June 2017 by the Iwanuma City Council, which argued that an IR could help drive the local economy to recover from the devastation of the March 2011 tsunami.

That initiative, however, appeared to have died last summer when both Iwanuma Mayor Hiroo Kikuchi and Governor Murai took negative stances on the idea.

Now that Governor Murai is reviving the possibility of an IR bid, it is not clear if the concept is still to build it within Iwanuma city, or if another municipality within the prefecture would be designated as the candidate.

The main advantage of Iwanuma cited by the city council in 2017 had been its location near the heart of the Tohoku region, as well as the fact that Sendai Airport—“the Doorway to Tohoku”—is located right along the city border. (AGB Nippon)