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Yokohama IR project faces more opposition before mayoral election

Yukio Fujiki, chairman of the Yokohama Harbor Resort Association, has launched the Yokohama Future Concept Conference, an organisation aiming to support an anti-casino mayor ahead of the mayoral election on 22 August.

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During the inaugural conference, Fujiki criticised Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga for supporting integrated resort (IR) projects and stated that Yokohama does not need to rely on casinos. The conference will likely hold another event in mid-July, once an appropriate anti-casino mayoral candidate is selected.

Some members of the public, known as the Kanagawa Citizens Ombudsman, are also speaking out against the IR project, reports Asia Gaming Brief.

The group argues that building a casino in Yamashita Wharf, the proposed location for the Yokohama IR, would undermine public welfare. Fujiki echoed the sentiment and said: “Yamashita Wharf is a ‘diamond’ of the earth. It is a place that will tell the fortune of what Yokohama and Japan will do for the future.”

However, not all of Yokohama is against the IR project. Chairman of Yokohama Chamber of Commerce and Industry Takashi Ueno expressed his support for the casino development, adding that it could be vital for the city’s economy. He also stated he will support a pro-casino mayor.

Yokohama reportedly has four potential IR partners: Genting Singapore, Melco Resorts, Sega Sammy Holdings and Shotoku. Sega Sammy recently revealed it is planning to partner with a foreign company to attract more Chinese customers, and thus has "shifted stance to aim the participation as a minority.”

Analysts also disregard Shotoku as a possible IR partner because the casino requires heavy investment, with doubts over whether the operator possesses the requisite finances. That leaves Genting and Melco as two likelier partners for the Yokohama IR.

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