Company: Wakayama City
Family Name: Obana
Given Name: Masahiro
Role: Mayor of Wakayama City
IR Stance: Advocate
Profile: Obana worked his way up through the Wakayama prefectural government as a local bureaucrat. In 2014 he was elected mayor with the support of major political parties.
The Wakayama IR Experts Committee under the chairmanship of Tokyo University Professor Emeritus Motoshige Ito held its first meeting on Tuesday, launching a new phase in the prefecture’s campaign to bring an IR to the Marina City location.
Wakayama Mayor Masahiro Obana made clear at a press conference on Thursday that he is not in full alignment with Governor Yoshinobu Nisaka over the project to build an IR at Marina City—he still insists that entry to the casino must be limited to foreign tourists.
On Sunday, the official campaign period began for the second round of the Unified Local Elections, which will include mayoral elections in Sasebo and city council races in the cities of Sasebo, Wakayama, and Tomakomai, where debate over local IR plans is expected to be the top political issue.
Yoshinobu Nisaka defeated his anti-casino opponent Masayoshi Hatanaka to win a fourth term as Governor of Wakayama Prefecture, thus clearing the political path for an IR bid.
Wakayama Mayor Masahiro Obana easily defeated his anti-casino challenger, Kumiko Shima, in Sunday’s election, boosting the chances for an IR bid at the municipality’s Marina City location.
The face-to-face debate on July 5 between the two candidates for Wakayama mayor underlined the fact that neither candidate is currently in open alignment with the prefectural government’s plan to build an IR at the Marina City site.
Despite formidable obstacles, Wakayama Governor Yoshinobu Nisaka is undeterred in his pursuit of an IR at the Marina City location.
On Tuesday, the Wakayama Prefectural Government published a report called “Wakayama Prefecture IR Basic Concept,” which provided specific data and projections, and also dropped its proposal to exclude Japanese from the casino.
The issue of Wakayama’s IR bid will be a leading point of contention in the city’s July 29 mayoral election after a decidedly anti-casino challenger, Kumiko Shima, announced her candidacy.
Wakayama Governor Yoshinobu Nisaka has walked back his early April comments in which he openly expressed the view that local Japanese might also be welcome in a Marina City casino. The governor made this latest turnabout on Tuesday after a gap opened up publicly on this issue between himself and Wakayama Mayor Masahiro Obana.