Hokkaido prefectural assembly might oppose 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.

Of the five caucuses within the 101-seat chamber, the survey found that the 25-member caucus associated with the former Democratic Party and the 4-member caucus of the Japan Communist Party are committed opponents to hosting an IR in Hokkaido, while the 49-member Liberal Democratic Party-affiliated caucus, a 12-member independent caucus, and the 8-member Komeito caucus are each divided within themselves, and have not taken any position on hosting an IR.

The Hokkaido Shimbun concludes, “Given the fact that there are variations in the opinions of the assemblymen of the three caucuses that have yet to declare themselves, even if Governor Harumi Takahashi announces an IR invitation plan, at this point conditions suggest that it would not receive assembly approval.”

The Hokkaido Prefectural Assembly is facing an election around April 2019, and it is possible that anti-casino forces may mobilize in an effort to elect more opposition lawmakers at that opportunity.