The official election period began for the Wakayama gubernatorial race on Thursday, pitting the pro-IR incumbent Yoshinobu Nisaka against the anti-casino challenger Masayoshi Hatanaka. This is precisely the same match-up as was the case four years ago. Election Day is November 25.
Four years ago the election was a landslide in Nisaka’s favor, 266,093 votes to 54,164 votes. This time, too, the strong advantage appears to lay with the pro-IR incumbent, with the ruling parties and some opposition parties endorsing Nisaka, and only the Japan Communist Party backing Hatanaka’s challenge.
Media reports are virtually unanimous in seeing the plan to build an IR at Marina City as the top issue in the campaign. Unlike most other pro-IR local politicians, Governor Nisaka has made his advocacy of an IR bid explicit and hasn’t downplayed it at all as election time approached.
For his part, Hatanaka is secretary-general of The Wakayama Network to Consider the Casino Problem, the main local organization opposing the opening of a casino.
In other words, this election pits Wakayama Prefecture’s most visible advocate of an IR against its most visible opponent.