Family Name: Suga
Given Name: Yoshihide
Party: Liberal Democratic Party
Role: Chief Cabinet Secretary
IR Stance: Advocate
Profile: Beginning his political career in the Yokohama City Council, Suga gradually worked his way up through the ranks until he became chief cabinet secretary in 2012. He is probably the most powerful chief cabinet secretary in Japanese history, maintaining his position for years and wielding his authority very strictly over the bureaucrats of the various ministries. Politically, Suga is a hardline conservative with views very similar to the prime minister he serves, Shinzo Abe.
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.
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.
As expected, the Abe Cabinet has endorsed the new measures to combat the gambling addiction in accordance with its responsibilities under the Basic Law on Gambling Addiction Countermeasures passed by the Diet last July, but the government’s unwillingness to make any of the new measures obligatory is drawing criticism.
On February 20, the first Gambling Addiction Countermeasures Stakeholders Meeting was held in Tokyo, with fifteen members selected to participate.
Last Friday the first meeting of the Headquarters for the Promotion of Gambling Addiction Countermeasures was held under the chairmanship of Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. It was determined that the basic plan would be formulated and authorized by the Cabinet by next April.
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.
Televised comments by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the second most powerful man in the country, suggesting that pachinko is effectively a form of gambling and that it has already created major, untreated gambling addiction problems, has sent shivers through the already struggling pachinko industry.
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.
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.