Opposition in Wakayama gathers momentum as new Japanese city shows interest

A Japanese group opposing a casino in Wakayama says it has enough signatures on a petition to ask the government to hold a referendum on whether Wakayama should host an integrated resort. At the same time, another place in Japan, Kuwana City, has come forward, indicating that it may want to be considered an IR host.

Opposition to Wakayama IR is growing

More than 8,000 people had signed up by Tuesday, according to a group in Wakayama. That's above the 2 per cent threshold needed to request a local government referendum. The group wants to invite local voters to vote on whether they support or oppose casinos in Wakayama.

The community group hopes to have the support of more than 20,000 people by the time the signature collection, which began on November 6 and ends on December 5, is completed.

According to information gathered by GGRAsia's Japan correspondent, the 2% threshold corresponds to about 6200 city voters.

According to the community group, its main objection to the NP was uncertainty over Clairvest Neem Ventures. This private consortium will lead Wakayama's bid to host the casino complex. Clairvest Neem Ventures was the winning consortium in the Request for Proposal scheme for the Wakayama casino complex with tourism facilities.

On 19 November, the Wakayama prefectural authorities decided to postpone the public consultation process for the draft IR District Development Plan. Clairvest Neem Ventures will provide clarification on the funding and structure.

New candidate becomes potential IR lead

Japan's casino liberalisation programme will allow up to three resorts to open in the country. Alongside Wakayama, only Osaka and Nagasaki are currently bidding to host integrated resorts. However, a late arrival is expected this week. The mayor of Kuwana has asked the governor to explore the possibility of building a casino or IR in the city.

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This was reported by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun news agency on Wednesday.

Kuwana is located in Mie Prefecture in the Kansai region on Japan's main island of Honshu. It has a population of 145,000. The city's mayor, Narutaka Ito, channels the latest show of interest through Mie Prefecture. Only prefectures and municipalities designated by ordinance are eligible to apply for the NP.

The Japanese government has announced that from October 1 it has opened the application period for local authorities wishing to host a casino resort. It also revealed what weight will be given to such requests when assessing them. Applications will be accepted until 28 April 2022.


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