Population (Prefectural): 9.2 million
GDP (Prefectural): 33.9 trillion yen
Candidate Site: Yamashita Pier
Main IR Assets: Yamashita Pier is an attractive port site in a city that is already considered one of the most charming urban locations in the nation. It is located in the Kanto region, home to more than 36 million people.
Key Proponent: Yokohama Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Family Name: Hayashi
Given Name: Fumiko
Role: Mayor of Yokohama City
IR Stance: Advocate
Profile: Before her move into politics, Hayashi had a pathbreaking career as a female business executive, mainly in the automotive industry, but also a stint as Chair and CEO of the major retailer, Daiei. She was first elected mayor of Yokohama in 2009 and has been reelected twice. Originally a clear advocate of hosting an IR in Yokohama, she shifted to an ambiguous stance in early 2017.
Family Name: Ueno
Given Name: Takashi
Organization: Yokohama Chamber of Commerce & Industry
IR Stance: Advocate
Profile: Ueno has long experience in the maritime and oil transportation business. He has been the chairman and CEO of Ueno Transtech since March 2007, and has served as the president of the Yokohama Chamber of Commerce & Industry since November 2006.
Family Name: Kawamoto
Given Name: Morihiko
Organization: Yokohama Chamber of Commerce & Industry
IR Stance: Advocate
Profile: Aside from his position as vice-chairman of the Yokohama Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Kawamoto is also the president of Kawamoto Industry Corporation, which installs and maintains such equipment as air conditioners, plumbing systems, disaster prevention machinery, and more.
Family Name: Fujiki
Given Name: Yukio
Organization: Yokohama Harbor Transport Association
IR Stance: Opponent
Profile: President of the Fujiki Transportation and Stevedoring Company since 1970, Fujiki is also the influential chairman of the Yokohama Harbor Transport Association. Although an advocate for the further development of the Yamashita Pier area, he took a different position from most local business leaders by opposing the establishment of a casino in Yokohama.
Having telegraphed its intention to do so since March, the Yokohama Chamber of Commerce & Industry has finally launched its pro-IR organization, dubbed the “Yokohama IR Promotion Association.”
The Yokohama municipal government is establishing a new “IR Promotion Office” to guide its policies into the more active phase of IR development.
Melco Resorts & Entertainment made several major announcements at a press event in Tokyo on Tuesday, including that Japanese tennis champion Naomi Osaka has become brand ambassador and sports group director for the company’s Yokohama IR bid.
Las Vegas Sands executives told an earnings conference call that they are focusing attention on their Yokohama bid, which they envision will involve an investment of US$10-12 billion.
The Yokohama municipal government has launched its RFC process for private businesses interested in developing Yamashita Pier into a major urban IR.
Political parties and citizens opposed to an IR bid at Yamashita Pier are launching movements both to recall Fumiko Hayashi as mayor of Yokohama as well as to subject any casino construction plans to a popular referendum.
On Friday, the Kamakura City Council rejected a draft resolution that would have denounced moves by neighboring governments to engage in IR bids. The draft resolution called for no IRs to be built in the entire Kanto region, with the main concern being the IR bid of neighboring Yokohama, also within the same Kanagawa Prefecture.
With hundreds of anti-casino protesters chanting outside the building, Yokohama’s revised budget for IR development was passed with the support of the conservative majority in a plenary session of the city council on Friday.
Melco Resorts & Entertainment announced on Wednesday that it would focus its IR campaign on Yokohama and that it was suspending its participation in bidding for the Osaka Yumeshima location.
A committee of the Yokohama City Council wasted little time in approving an amended budget including expenses for IR development, angering the opposition which denounced the move as contrary to the democratic spirit.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike continues to send mixed signals on whether or not she intends to declare an IR bid for the Japanese capital, with observers on all sides trying to guess her intentions.
New public opinion polls clearly indicate that most of the Japanese public remains opposed to casino legalization in the country, and the fact that conservative politicians have pushed pro-IR policies through at the national level has not changed the negative opinions of most ordinary people.
Saturday the 14th witnessed two separate rallies by opponents of casino legalization, one in Yokohama and the other in Osaka.
The second-largest caucus in the Yokohama City Council, called Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and Citizens’ Forum, has already decided to oppose Mayor Fumiko Hayashi’s desire to launch an IR bid at Yamashita Pier, and will submit a bill to strip all IR-related expenses from the mayor’s proposed city budget.
The first Japan IR Expo in Yokohama has been scheduled for January 29 and 30, 2020, moving quickly after Mayor Fumiko Hayashi declared that her city would be joining the IR licensing race.
Closer examination of the IR Basic Plan draft issued on Wednesday finds that the degree of popular support won within the host community will be a criterion for choosing which of three IR bids will be selected for licensing.
After two-and-a-half years of repeating that she was a “blank slate” on IR development, Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi’s new mantra appears to be that she feels “a sense of crisis” that the city’s IR bid must go forward. Reactions to this rather sudden public transformation are receiving mixed reviews.
Yokohama Harbor Transport Association Chairman Yukio Fujiki may be the top leader of opposition to an IR bid at Yamashita Pier, but a chorus of other voices arose last week, making clear that he is far from alone, and that Mayor Fumiko Hayashi will be facing heavy dissent over her unpopular decision.
Yokohama Harbor Transport Association Chairman Yukio Fujiki, the 89-year-old “don of Yokohama” who controls part of Yamashita Pier, the proposed site for the IR, has vowed, “I shall not be evicted,” signaling his all-out resistance to Mayor Fumiko Hayashi’s new policy of favoring a bid.
MGM Resorts took the opportunity of the local withdrawal of a major rival, Las Vegas Sands, to reaffirm that its IR bid in Japan was clearly focused on Osaka Yumeshima.
Governor Yoshinobu Nisaka purports to being unshaken by Yokohama’s entry into the IR race, despite the fact that it suggests that all of Japan’s regional markets—Hokkaido, Nagasaki, and others—may be competing for a single available IR license.
The official announcement by Mayor Fumiko Hayashi that Yokohama would enter the IR race in earnest has set off a scramble among major IR operators, with Las Vegas Sands announcing that it was completely abandoning its efforts to partner with the Osaka government and Melco announcing its intention to open a Yokohama office with a new executive in charge.
The Yokohama Chamber of Commerce & Industry appears to have been taken by surprise by the news reports on Monday that the city government had decided to move forward with an IR bid, but they expressed their delight.
The municipal government told reporters on Monday that Yokohama’s long period of indecision had ended and that Mayor Fumiko Hayashi would announce later in the week that her city would seek to host a major urban IR at the 47-hectare Yamashita Pier location.
The Galaxy Entertainment EuroJapan Cup drew 65,000 soccer fans to watch the friendly match between the English Premier League 2019 Champions Manchester City and Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos, which the English team won 3-1.
Melco Resorts & Entertainment has entered into its first sports partnership in Japan by becoming a sponsor for the Yokohama F. Marinos J1 League football club.
The Yokohama Chamber of Commerce & Industry has publicly urged Mayor Fumiko Hayashi to come off the fence and to quickly make a decision in favor of launching an IR bid.
Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi, the self-described “blank slate” on an IR bid, is becoming clear about one point—don’t expect her to make a decision soon.
Since January 2017 Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi has insisted that she is a “blank slate” on the issue an making an IR bid, but her actions and the logic of the few public statements that she makes continues to suggest that she remains the IR advocate that she had been up to the end of 2016.
Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi is facing renewed indications that the plan to build a major IR at Yamashita Pier will face fierce political opposition both from a significant portion of the business community and a majority of the population.
Las Vegas Sands’ Managing Director for Global Development George Tanasijevich has offered the clearest statement yet that his firm is now following MGM Resorts in pursuing an “Osaka First” strategy.
The Yokohama municipal government, which says it has made no decisions about whether or not to pursue an IR bid , will be holding two explanatory meetings for citizens later this month about the results of its RFI process for the Yamashita Pier site.
Last week, Yokohama police raided an illegal internet casino shop called “Beast” and arrested four people, including the manager, Hiroyuki Shishido.
The Yokohama city government released on Monday a more detailed summary the results of the RFI process carried out last summer, revealing, for example, that the investment amounts proposed by the operators for the development of an IR at the Yamashita Pier location ranged from a low of 620 billion yen (about US$5.6 billion) to a high of 1.3 trillion yen (about US$11.8 billion).
Yokohama Harbor Transport Association Chairman Yukio Fujiki is stepping up his efforts to head off an IR bid in his city by establishing a new anti-casino called the “Yokohama Harbor Resort Association.”
Las Vegas Sands would apparently like to build the largest IR in Japan, but they are currently unsure whether that entails focusing on the more certain prospect of Osaka, or else waiting for the possible emergence of Tokyo or Yokohama.
Left-leaning opposition parties are stepping up their political push against the establishment of casino gambling within their local communities, provoking new developments in both the Kanagawa and Hokkaido gubernatorial election campaigns.
Leaders of the Yokohama Chamber of Commerce & Industry are making another push for an IR bid in their city, this time announcing that they will form an “IR Promotion Council” by the end of the year.
Melco Resorts & Entertainment CEO Lawrence Ho recently reaffirmed that his company is most interested in large metropolitan locations, not the smaller regional markets.
The chances that Tokyo will be a bidder for the three IR licenses in the first round looks highly remote after the metropolitan government unveiled additional details about its Tsukiji development plan on Wednesday.
Every local government IR bid in the nation remains dependent upon conservative or the right wing forces remaining in power in all major executive and legislative bodies. There is not a single left-of-center political party or major institution that isn’t hostile to casino legalization and ready to pull the plug on the local IR plans.
On Wednesday morning, police raided an illegal casino in Yokohama’s Naka Ward, the second such high-profile bust since July.
Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi made clear at a press conference on Friday that she expected only one IR to be licensed within the Kanto region, an area which includes Tokyo, Yokohama, and Chiba.
At a press conference in Tokyo on Wednesday, Caesars Entertainment unveiled its “100 Year Partnership for Japan” campaign, and made a number of significant announcements about recent developments in the firm’s local IR initiatives.
A dozen companies submitted plans and information to the Yokohama municipal government before the RFI deadline last Friday. Among these, eight were international IR operators, two were domestic property developers, and two were other kinds of Japanese firms.
Yokohama business leaders used the opportunity of a conference on Saturday to renew their request for the municipal government to make a bid for an IR license.
The Yokohama municipal government revealed the results of its public comment period regarding its urban development plans, and in the process admitted that it had received an avalanche of opposition to the notion of building an IR in the city.
Ernst & Young ShinNihon has won another consulting contract with the Yokohama municipal government for the project titled “Investigation of New Strategic Urban Development Such as an Integrated Resort.”
In spite of the ongoing RFI process, Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi insisted at a Wednesday press conference that no decision about pursuing an IR bid had yet been made, and that she remained a “blank slate” on the matter.
At the explanation meeting held on Monday, the Yokohama municipal authorities released a breakdown of the 22 companies that have joined the RFI process, revealing that nine of them are international IR operators. A further six are domestic property developers.
A total of 22 companies or groups registered to participate in Yokohama city’s information collection initiative, which effectively amounts to a RFI process related to a possible IR bid, before the deadline on Tuesday afternoon. No breakdown on the nature of the 22 firms was made available.
Yokohama city, which is now mulling the possibility of an IR bid, drew over 51.4 million domestic and foreign tourists in 2017, according to new figures released by the Kanagawa prefectural government. This represents an increase of 11.8% over the previous year’s figure.
Wasting no time after the passage of the IR Implementation Act, the Yokohama municipal authorities on Monday unveiled two initiatives: a public tender for an advisory firm to study an Yokohama IR bid and a call for information from IR operators.
In front of around seven hundred politicians and businesspeople on the morning of July 18, the Yokohama Harbor Transport Association unveiled its vision for the development of Yamashita Pier, including what would become Japan’s largest MICE facility, with all the main elements of an Integrated Resort, minus a casino.
Kanagawa police raided an illegal casino in Yokohama’s Naka Ward on July 2 and arrested four people, including the shop’s manager, 34-year-old Takahiro Okamoto.
Chairman Yukio Fujiki of the Yokohama Harbor Transport Association reiterated in an interview with the Mainichi Shinbun his strong opposition to the siting of an IR at Yamashita Pier. He also suggested that if the city government nevertheless will not be deterred in its desire to host a casino, then they should look to convert a local US military base instead.
Yumiko Araki, head of the nine-member Japan Communist Party caucus within the Yokohama City Council, tells AGB Nippon in an exclusive interview that she believes Mayor Fumiko Hayashi intends to go forward with an IR bid, but attention may now be shifting from Yamashita Pier to Minato Mirai as the most likely location.
Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi is again reaffirming the “blank slate” position on hosting an IR which she first adopted over a year ago
On the issue of IR development in Japan, the Shinzo Abe government has, from start to finish, acted like a political bulldozer, assuming that the opposition parties and the majority opinion of the Japanese people could simply be swept aside by overwhelming force. This approach has indeed taken them a long way forward, but the costs are now mounting and the limits may be in sight.