What is the Future of Casinos in Yokohama and Osaka After the Campaign Against It | FRIDAY DIGITAL

What is the Future of Casinos in Yokohama and Osaka After the Campaign Against It

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Soil contamination problems were discovered on Yumeshima in Konohana-ku, Osaka City, the planned site of an integrated resort (IR) including casinos, which Osaka Prefecture and Osaka City are aiming to invite to the city. Last December, Osaka City Mayor Matsui decided to spend ¥79 billion on the project, claiming that he was responsible as the owner of the land for the soil contamination, liquefaction, buried materials, and other ground problems that had occurred.

After the Osaka City Council meeting on March 16, Mayor Matsui was invited as a witness on March 17.

As the owner of the land, Osaka City is responsible for the upper limit of ¥79 billion. The subsidence is the natural origin of the land, so the operator (Osaka IR Co., Ltd.) bears the burden. If there is evidence that the subsidence was caused by land reclaimed by Osaka City, Osaka City’s burden will be considered at that time.

In response to this statement, a number of people on social networking sites have pointed out that “in the end, they will pay for it with logic,” “how much will Osaka’s burden eventually grow,” and “the Osaka IR itself is a big gamble.

However, on March 24, the Osaka Prefectural Assembly approved the Osaka IR development plan with a majority of the Osaka Restoration Association, the New Komeito Party, and the Liberal Democratic Party, and it is expected to be approved by the City Council on March 29, so there is no turning back now.

The Osaka IR development plan is expected to be approved by the city council on March 29, and there is no turning back (Photo: AFLO)

Yokohama and Osaka, why such different reactions?

By the way, what is curious is that, aside from on social networking sites, the IR issue does not seem to be a topic of much discussion or interest to the citizens of Osaka Prefecture and Osaka as a whole. In the case of Yokohama City, the current IR bid has come to a halt after Takeharu Yamanaka won the mayoral election held last August 22 under the banner “We will not invite an IR,” but why do Yokohama and Osaka differ so much in their attitudes toward casinos?

We asked Michiru Fujita, who served as co-chairman with Setsu Kobayashi of the “Yokohama Citizens’ Circle to Decide on the Pros and Cons of Casinos.

In the case of Yokohama City, former Mayor Fumiko Hayashi won her third election in the 2017 mayoral election on a platform of a blank slate to invite IRs to the city. There were many people who voted for her who expected her to question the pros and cons of attracting IRs.

However, former Mayor Fumiko Hayashi reversed her decision on August 22, 2007, and announced that she would invite an IR. The

So, in order to have a referendum on whether or not to invite an IR in 2020, I collected about 200,000 signatures, more than three times the legally required number, and requested then Mayor Hayashi to enact a referendum ordinance.

To begin with, former Mayor Fumiko Hayashi was positive about the IR attraction, but turned “blank” before the 2017 mayoral election, which she contested with two opponents of the attraction. After his third election, he withdrew his “blank sheet of paper” again.

Why did the citizens of Yokohama oppose the IR project in the first place? Mr. Fujita offers the following analysis of the difference in the momentum of opposition between Yokohama and Osaka.

In the case of Yokohama, I think it is significant that the people who had opposed the casino and those who had been involved in local activities became loosely connected through their common goal of stopping the attraction of the IR, even though they had different principles and arguments.

Besides, I think that the type and breadth of people speaking out against the project are different from those in Osaka. For example, Mr. Yukio Fujiki, chairman of the Yokohama Port Transport Association, who is close to such central political figures as Yoshihide Suga and Toshihiro Nikai, and who also served as chairman of the supporters’ committee for former Mayor Fumiko Hayashi, is a leading conservative who is called the “Don of Hama” and who has been outspoken against the central administration pushing for the casino, saying “I will oppose it with my life” and “I will sleep here. The company has turned its back on the government. Hachiro Okonogi, former chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, who was part of the Kan cabinet, also expressed his opposition to the invitation of casinos to Yokohama, a project that was a key initiative of Prime Minister Kan. In other words, those who invited the IR are also regretting it.”

Fujita, who was born in Kobe, raised in Nishinomiya, and spent some time teaching in Toyonaka, also points out that there may be some differences in local characteristics.

In Yokohama City, the redevelopment of the Minato Mirai area was underway in the form of the “Harbor Resort” at Yamashita Pier in the Port of Yokohama. Going further back in history, after the Great Kanto Earthquake, Yamashita Park was built as a reconstruction project, and later the Bay Bridge was constructed. The city had a history and culture of development as a port city, and then the national government came in and reversed the city’s previous plans. I think there is a difference in the way of thinking.

Although there are many people living in Yokohama who come from the countryside or from overseas, I have the impression that there are many smart people who love port culture, whereas in Osaka, people tend to think, “Why not just do something interesting?

Even in the same Kansai region, for example, if an IR were to be built in Kobe’s Motomachi area, I think the opposition would be even louder. Besides, the objectives and figures for attracting IRs in Osaka have changed since the beginning.

Says Mr. Fujita, “Casinos are a form of gambling that Japan has never approved of and carries with it a great risk of addiction.”

Corona Disaster, Casino Targets “Osaka Citizens” instead of “Inbound”!

To what extent are the citizens of Osaka and Osaka Prefecture aware that the original goal was to attract inbound tourism by attracting the “world standard and largest in Japan” MICE, but due in part to Corona, the plan has somehow been drastically changed to a casino-centric plan?

For example, the “Osaka IR Basic Concept” prepared in 2019 expected 5.9 million casino users out of the total annual number of users of the entire IR of 24.8 million, but the “Draft Plan for the Development of the Yumeshima Area, Osaka” released on December 23, 2021, expects the total number of users of the entire IR to be Of the 19.87 million, 16.1 million are casino users, approximately three times as many. In the basic concept, the ratio of expected casino sales was 220 billion yen for foreigners and 160 billion yen for Japanese, but in the development plan, while the 220 billion yen for foreigners remains the same, the 270 billion yen for Japanese is overwhelmingly targeted toward the Japanese.

Incidentally, few countries in the world are profitable from casinos alone, and even in Monaco, which has the image of supporting its national finances with casino revenues, the performance of SBM, which operates casinos and luxury hotels (the state owns approximately 60% of the capital), was poor, and the fact that it was already operating at a loss before the Corona disaster was revealed. Finance” (October, 2008), a public relations magazine of the Ministry of Finance, noted.

In addition, according to the latest financial balance sheet data released by the Macau Government Finance Bureau, casino gross gaming revenue (Gross Gaming Revenue) has plummeted since late January 2020 due to a sharp drop in inbound traffic following the outbreak of the new coronavirus infection. It remains at about 30% of the pre-coronavirus 2019 level.

In addition, Mr. Fujita emphasizes that the problem is not that IR itself is bad, but that casinos are always included in it.

Some people say that pachinko and horse racing are fine, but casinos are not. However, I wonder if it is necessary to dare to create a new type of gambling. Casinos are a form of gambling that Japan has never approved of, and they carry with them great dangers, such as addiction.

I have seen a video in which a member of the Diet actually went to Jeju Island and reported on the impact of bringing a casino to the island. Due to the change in the housing environment, all the young people, such as those raising children, are worried about the impact on their children and have left Jeju, or they lost all their money to the casino and there are many abandoned cars in the city. …… The glittering side and economic effects are Even if there were, the darkness is too great. It’s fine for those who make money, but I highly doubt that it’s okay to show people who work hard every day for a living that only a few people are making a comfortable profit.”

Michiru Fujita Former co-chairperson of the “Citizens for Deciding on the Pros and Cons of Casinos” group, chairman of Kodachi no Kai (NPO), vice-chairperson of Firefly Furusato Segamisawa Fund (certified NPO), vice-chairperson of Yokohama Sakae and Disaster Prevention Volunteer Network, secretary general of Women’s Political School, and former Yokohama City Councilor. She is involved in community activities such as mental welfare, natural environment conservation, and farmer support.

  • Interview and text Wakako Tago

    Born in 1973. After working for a publishing company and an advertising production company, became a freelance writer. She interviews actors and other actors for weekly and monthly magazines, and writes drama columns for various media. His main publications include "All Important Things Are Taught by Morning Drama" (Ota Publishing), "KinKiKids: Owarinaki Michi" and "Hey!Say!JUMP: When 9 Tobira Open" (both from Earls Publishing).

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