Tokyo voters voice opposition to casino plans

By Mia Chapman Updated
Tokyo voters voice opposition to casino plans

The legalisation of integrated casino resorts in Japan has been met by opposition in the nation’s capital, Tokyo, if the most recent elections are any indication.

Tokyo is yet to publicly announce its intentions to bid on one of Japan’s three forthcoming integrated resort licences and that during the recent city assemble election, the Liberal Democratic Party, the controlling party in Japan’s legislature and the party of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, won just 33 seats of the 127-seat assembly.

Its sister party won 23 seats.

Together, the alliance failed to win a majority power position in the assembly.

Meanwhile, parties that have voiced opposition to integrated resorts made gains in the assembly.

Anti-casino parties include Tokyo Citizens First, which won 31 seats, the Japanese Community Party with 19 seats and Constitutional Democratic Party with 15 seats.

“I’ll humbly accept the fact that the LDP and Komeito couldn’t win a majority as we promised,” Suga said.

“I imagine there are various factors contributing to the loss, but the party headquarters and our Tokyo branch will coordinate to analyse the outcome and prepare for the next election.”

Suga is pressing forward with his predecessor Shinzo Abe’s wishes to use casino resorts as entertainment and leisure destinations that will increase and grow Japan’s tourism industry.

But there are plenty of opponents to casinos and that’s resulted in only four cities officially declaring their candidacy for one of the three operating licences.

Yokohama, Osaka, Nagasaki and Wakayama are accepting formal bids from casino consortiums.

Yokohama has two qualifying schemes from Genting Group and Melco Resorts.

But there is a mounting campaign in Yokohama to reject a casino play.

That’s being led by Hachiro Okonogi, who has revealed an anti-casino attitude in hopes of ousting Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi.

The general opinion among gaming analysts in the region is that Tokyo would consider entering the integrated resort race, but only if Yokohama folds on its casino pursuit.

Wakayama names preferred casino host

Wakayama prefecture governor Yoshinobu Nisaka announced that Clairvest Neem Ventures, a subsidiary of Canadian investment firm Clairvest Group, had been selected to proceed with the prefecture’s bid.

This makes Clairvest the first integrated resort operator partner to be announced among the four regions known to be pursuing one of three integrated resort licences to be issued by Japan’s national government, the others being Osaka, Yokohama and Nagasaki.

The prefecture is hoping to open its facility in spring 2026 although Clairvest has proposed autumn 2027.

According to published information, Clairvest’s integrated resort concept is based on a theme of “land of wood and a land of water” with nature at its core.

The total floor area would be about 569,000 square metres, of which a casino facility will cover around 38,000 square metres.

It will also offer 2700 rooms and an international exhibition hall with a large conference hall that can accommodate 3000 people.

Notably, Clairvest has proposed an investment of US$4.3 billion versus U$2.6 billion suggested by Wakayama under its fundamental concept.

Both the scale of the investment and target number of visitors put forward by Clairvest are much larger than Wakayama’s own estimations.

The integrated resort is planned to be built on an artificial island called Wakayama Marina City.

The selection of Clairvest comes after Suncity Group withdrew from the race, citing an uncertain global business environment.

It was recently revealed that Suncity had in fact scored higher than Clairvest based on the selection committee’s initial assessment.

Their absence had sparked suggestions Wakayama may itself withdraw from the Japanese integrated resort race, but after deciding to name Clairvest as its partner, the Governor said: “We can take the next step with confidence. Moreover, we will probably be able to obtain national approval if we improve on the plan.”

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