Hiroya Ebina, mayor of Kushiro city, was remarkably frank during his appearance at the Japan Gaming Congress in Tokyo that he now fully backed the rival bid of Tomakomai city, which he agreed could become the “gateway to Hokkaido” for visiting tourists.
Mayor Ebina’s comments followed an attractive presentation of a possible IR at his own city of Kushiro, which would be located in the Akan lake region with about 250 hotel rooms and a floor area of about 72,000 square meters. The theme of the entire facility would have been the ancient Ainu culture, traces of which are still abundant in eastern Hokkaido.
Mayor Ebina acknowledged several times that the IR facility his local government had in mind did not match the current thinking of the Japanese central government, especially in terms of the small scale of the facility.
In late February, Kushiro signed an agreement with Tomakomai city to federate for the purpose of ensuring that Hokkaido Prefecture would be among the winners when the licenses are granted. Mayor Ebina’s comments at the Japan Gaming Congress was the first time he offered an fuller explanation for that move to foreign audiences.