In April 2022, Osaka submitted its District Development Plan for an integrated resort. However, opponents of the project intend to make it a prominent issue during the upcoming elections.
The upcoming mayoral elections in Osaka are expected to feature heated debates on the city’s proposal to establish an integrated resort that includes a casino. While the media reports that opponents of the project outnumber its supporters among the candidates, the regional Osaka Ishin no Kai party, which is promoting the initiative, still has a strong chance of winning.
Over the weekend, Asahi Shimbun conducted a survey which revealed that 47% of Osaka residents oppose the integrated resort plan that was submitted to the national government a year ago. In comparison, only 37% expressed support for the initiative.
The survey results indicate that many of those in favour of the integrated resort plan intend to vote for Hideyuki Yokoyama, who is backed by the Osaka Ishin party, in the mayoral election. In contrast, those who oppose the IR project expressed their support for Taeko Kitano, an independent newcomer.
According to the survey, 50% of male respondents expressed support for the casino plan, whereas 55% of female respondents were against it. The results also suggested that younger residents were more likely to support the proposal, with 51% of respondents aged 18 to 29 in favour of it. Conversely, 60% of those aged 70 or older expressed their opposition to the initiative.
The survey indicated that among all residents in the prefecture, 43% were against the integrated resort plan, which was slightly higher than the 37% who supported the initiative. The survey was conducted using a computer-generated random selection of telephone numbers. There were 604 valid responses from 1,069 households with at least one eligible voter in the city, and 772 valid responses from 1,374 households in the prefecture.
Incumbent Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura, the leader of Osaka Ishin, is expected to maintain a comfortable lead in the election, with backing from the majority of prefectural residents, both for and against the casino bid.
Osaka has partnered with MGM Resorts International and ORIX to bid for the hosting of an integrated resort. The proposed investment by MGM-Orix is JPY1.08tn (US$8.38bn) with a target opening date set for 2029. However, announcements on the future of Osaka and Nagasaki’s IR plans have been postponed by the Japanese government until after the upcoming elections later this month. The government is concerned that the plans may become significant political issues.
It seems that questions had been raised about the lack of response from the national government regarding the IR proposals, which have been in their hands since April. However, campaigning for local elections in nine prefectures across Japan began last week, with the elections set to take place on April 9. A second round of local elections to elect mayors and assembly members in cities, towns, and villages is scheduled for April 23.