Candidates reflect on IR issue in wake of Yokohama election

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The city of Yokohama selected its new mayor on 22 August from the largest pool in history eight candidates. Takeharu Yamanaka, a former professor at Yokohama City University supported by the Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party, and recommended by the Constitutional Democratic Party will now take office, having outshone former Chairman of the National Safety Commission, Hachiro Okonogi, and incumbent Fumiko Hayashi in Sundays election.

Yamanaka, who ran in opposition to an IR project, commented at a press conference, Yokohama city will soon declare that it will not continue with a bid for an IR with casino.

Okonogi, who also ran on an anti-IR platform, said of his loss, I feel like many people were cautious and worried about my flipping [from anti-IR] after being elected. I felt there was a lack of explanation and a lack of strength on my part.

Hayashi said, It appears that we have been living through a storm of opposition since the IR bid was announced two years ago.

However, she added, During the election campaign, many residents I spoke to were in favor of an IR and there was none of the continued commentary wed heard over the last two years. I was very moved.

There were also fewer opportunities for the mayor to meet residents due to the coronavirus pandemic, and she stated, “It wasnt a situation where those who support IR could express that and there wasnt even a chance for that.

In Osaka, which is promoting an IR project of its own, Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura was asked at a press briefing on Monday if he believed the Yokohama result would impact Osakas bid.

I do not believe that the Yokohama mayoral election will have a major impact on Osakas IR project, he said.

It may be that the citys elections were dominated by the coronavirus pandemic and while COVID-19 is increasing rapidly in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area, Mr. Yamanaka, who is an expert on the coronavirus, may have gained the confidence of its residents.

Regarding an Osaka IR, Yoshimura said, Many people are worried about addiction issues and I would like to tackle that topic somehow. There are a lot of positives so I would like us to proceed with proper explanations. It is, of course, most important to proceed respectfully.