Yokohama IR bid stuck in neutral

Since her impressive victory a month ago in a hard-fought reelection effort, eyes have been focused on Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi, trying to forecast whether she will return to her IR advocacy of last year, or else back away from the proposal in light of the strongly negative public opinion in her city.

The answer that seems to be emerging is that Mayor Hayashi is now playing a waiting game, watching the political winds and in the meantime keeping her future options open.

In fact, this is what she herself stated fairly clearly on the evening of July 30, just as the voting results were recording her victory: “During the election campaign I heard voices of approval and voices of anxiety. I would like to conduct serious research from a neutral position while watching the movements of the country.”

A month later, she isn’t saying much more than that. Asked by a major newspaper in an interview published yesterday her views on hosting an IR, her response was, “I cannot yet fully explain the merits to the citizenry.”

Asia Gaming Brief asked Kazuyoshi Nagashima, who placed second among the three candidates in last month’s Yokohama mayoral race, about his interpretation of Mayor Hayashi’s latest comments.

He offered two insights. First, he believes Mayor Hayashi is waiting to see the comprehensive national policies on combating gambling addiction. Before committing herself, she wants to understand whether or not the national addiction countermeasures are credible and will meet with a degree of popular acceptance.

Secondly, Nagashima reckons that Mayor Hayashi will also wait until after the next general election to determine the trajectory of national policies on IRs.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe can call a general election at his own discretion, but he must do so by December 2018 at the latest.