New Osaka Committee Seeks Support to Stop IR Project

Some Osaka residents really do not want to see an integrated resort built anywhere near the prefecture or capital city. A new group established by members of Osaka city council, calling itself “No! Osaka IR/Casino,” seems determined to do its utmost and oppose the prefecture’s bid for the multi-billion project that promises to transform the entire region and bring valuable tax revenue.

Not Everyone Sold on IR Bid

However, not everyone is convinced, among which Hirotoshi Kawashima, a council member who is initiating the move against the IR. Another ally here is Tadakazu Konishi, who is a former Osaka vice-governor. As such, the group already has the backing of some political heavyweights. But fringe political opposition will not cut it.

That is why both politicians are looking to whip up support among the local community, and businesses. Whatever happens, it should happen quickly, though, as the clock is ticking and the central government is close to selecting the host venue for the first integrated resort project in the country. There are three planned for the entire country under the legislation passed by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

That is why Konishi and Kawashima want their committee to have submitted a written request for review in August or earlier. The pair have some cogent arguments to deliver against the project. They fear that when the project was originally designed, it factored in a vibrant global market in which people were inclined to travel and spend their discretionary income on hospitality and casinos.

Things have changed as the pandemic paralyzed all original plans and even saw a number of companies pulling out of the race. In other words, the project pitched by Osaka’s government is hardly acknowledging these challenges and it would be hard to, given the short notice lawmakers had to place their bid with the central government.

While Osaka can try and circumnavigate this objection, should there be enough local opposition, the central government may actually prefer another candidate or raise the issue further. The central government is determined that in order to give any type of approval, local residents and businesses must absolutely agree.  

All It Takes Is Some Signatures

This means that should No! Osaka IR/Casino manages to collect the needed 210,000 signatures, they can petition the central government to intervene directly and avoid being tuned out by local politicians. The current project planned for Osaka though is definitely conducted by established companies in the sector.

It’s a consortium between MGM Resorts International and the local partner, ORIX Corp. Should all go well, the project should be complete and launched by 2029. The site of the project is Yumeshima, a reclaimed island that has raised environmental concerns.

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