Company: Tomakomai City
Family Name: Takahashi
Given Name: Harumi
Role: Former Governor of Hokkaido Prefecture
IR Stance: Advocate
Profile: Born into a political family, Takahashi started off as a MITI (now METI) bureaucrat before leaving the ministry and successfully running for the post of Hokkaido governor, at the urging of ruling party grandee Nobutaka Machimura. She served four full terms, a total of 16 years, as governor before stepping down in April 2019.
The decision by Hokkaido Governor Naomichi Suzuki to drop out of the Japan IR race does not simply remove one more local government from contention, it also represents the collapse of what was arguably the strongest IR initiative outside of the Kansai and Kanto regions, the regional IR which probably would have produced the highest financial returns.
Just days before she is set to leave office, outgoing Hokkaido Governor Harumi Takahashi has made her clearest statements of support for the prefecture to back Tomakomai city’s prospective IR license bid.
Hokkaido Tourism Organization Chairman Yoshihiro Sekihachi made clear in recent statements to the Nihon Keizai Shinbun that he supports two specific measures to stimulate the growth of tourism: the development of an IR within the prefecture and instituting a special tourist tax.
As anticipated, the issue of an IR bid is becoming one of the top points of contention in the Hokkaido gubernatorial race. To stress the vital importance he puts on the issue, Japan Communist Party Secretary-General Akira Koike, in a rare move, personally handed his party’s recommendation to the united opposition candidate Tomohiro Ishikawa at an event held, pointedly, at Tomakomai Citizen Hall.
The Hokkaido IR Experts’ Committee held its fourth and final meeting on Monday, producing no surprises but once again declaring that Tomakomai city should be the preferred IR host community from within the prefecture.
Hard Rock took initiative at the Hokkaido IR Showcase on Wednesday with a presentation of their master plan for Hokkaido. Chairman Jim Allen presented a building model of their proposed property, making sure to namedrop Japanese electronics heavyweight NEC for their facial recognition technology and luxury hospitality brand Four Seasons for their high-end hotels.
Harumi Takahashi has confirmed that she will be stepping down as governor of Hokkaido Prefecture next spring, a serious blow to prospects for a local IR bid.
Despite the enthusiasm of the Tomakomai municipal government, dark political clouds seem to be gathering over the prospects for an IR bid from Hokkaido.
The Experts Committee established by Hokkaido Governor Harumi Takahashi held its third meeting on Wednesday and declared that among the three municipalities vying for prefectural government’s support, Tomakomai clearly held the advantage.
Hokkaido Governor Harumi Takahashi visited Tokyo on Tuesday to make a number of requests related to recovery from the massive earthquake earlier this month, some of these requests highlighting the need to strengthen the tourist infrastructure against blackouts and similar emergencies.
The Experts Committee established by Hokkaido Governor Harumi Takahashi held its second meeting on August 30, this time hearing presentations from the three municipalities—Tomakomai, Rusutsu, and Kushiro—which are nominally in the race for prefectural government’s support.
The Hokkaido gubernatorial race is already informally underway. Incumbent Harumi Takahashi spoke with leaders of Tomakomai’s business community last Friday about the city’s potential IR bid in connection with her own political future.
The Experts Committee established by Hokkaido Governor Harumi Takahashi to help give a IR bid political momentum vis-a-vis a skeptical prefectural assembly, held its first meeting on July 31. It declared that the candidate site would be settled by the end of the year.
In a move apparently meant to buy time and give her political cover, Hokkaido Governor Harumi Takahashi indicated within the Hokkaido Prefectural Assembly on Wednesday that she would be setting up an experts’ committee later in this month to consider the advisability of an IR bid.
Although widely considered one of the most likely prefectures to win an IR bid, a survey conducted by the Hokkaido Shinbun reveals that the Hokkaido Prefectural Assembly might, in fact, block the establishment of an IR within its jurisdiction, potentially bringing to naught the bids of Tomakomai city and Rusutsu village.
The Hokkaido Prefecture Government estimates that an IR placed at Tomakomai city would draw more visitors and produce more revenues than its local rivals.