Regions appeal for IR development

Wakayama Governor Yoshinobu Nisaka has given voice to concerns among some local governments that the project to host IRs in Japan is becoming increasingly dominated by large cities like Osaka and Yokohama, and that the earlier notion that IRs were to be an important element of decentralization and regional revitalization is now being lost.

On May 31, Governor Nisaka visited various government and ruling party officials in Tokyo to make his direct appeal, which included several specific policy requests.

The thrust of his requests is that the forthcoming IR Implementation Bill should provide for sufficient flexibility for regional governments to compete and win in obtaining operating licenses. He does not want the central government to strictly limit the number of IRs to be authorized in the first round, but rather to judge based upon the relative quality of each proposal. He also does not want the central government to define too specifically which core facilities an IR must include for consideration.

The two-page document that Governor Nisaka provided to the officials requests: “Allow local governments to respond flexibly by emphasizing the originality and special characteristics of the various localities.” This request includes not only the facilities themselves, but also a wider discretion for local governments to establish their own policies on gambling addiction.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kazuhiro Sugita, the representative of Prime Minister Abe who received Governor Nisaka, commented, “We want to listen seriously to the voices of the regions and we will discuss it.”