Company: Yokohama City
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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