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Tokyo’s waterfront IR vision may spark debate among Tokyo residents

  • November 28, 2019
  • , Nikkei , p. 39
  • JMH Translation

In late October, a private-public team of the Tokyo metropolitan government proposed a set of ideas on the development of Tokyo’s waterfront area after the 2020 Tokyo Games. The proposal included the controversial idea of building MICE [meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions] and integrated resort (IR) facilities in Tokyo’s Aomi district.

 

The metropolitan government initially planned to lay out a “Tokyo bay area vision,” a policy on the development of Tokyo’s waterfront area after 2020, by the end of 2019. The proposal, which was put together by junior officials of the Tokyo metropolitan government and private-sector experts, will serve as a blueprint for it.

 

But the metropolitan government announced that it will push back the compilation schedule to September 2020 or a later date on the day the proposal by the public-private team was revealed. It explained that the vision needs to stay aligned with a “long-term strategy,” which it will work out after the 2020 Games to set an overall policy vision for the metropolis.

 

The release of the vision after the 2020 Games means that it will not go public before the gubernatorial race, which is scheduled to take place on July 5, 2020. Whether the vision will discuss an IR project will become the focal point. A member of the Tokyo prefectural assembly said the metropolitan government put off publishing the vision “simply because it does not want to release something controversial before the gubernatorial race.”

 

On Nov. 19, the state government announced an application schedule for the prefectural governments and ordinance-designated cities to submit applications for their bids for hosting IR facilities from January 2021 to the end of July 2021. There are only a year and eight months left [for the metropolitan government to consider a bid for an IR]. Many people view that coordination “will not be completed within a year and eight months” between IR operators, property developers, and communities.  

 

There is also the political situation. Some members of the Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites First), the biggest faction in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly effectively led by Gov. Koike, argue that “discussions on an IR before the gubernatorial race is a taboo.” The Komeito, which supports Koike, has a strong distaste for gambling. That distaste is especially strong among its female supporters.

 

At a press conference held on Nov. 22, Gov. Koike said hosting an IR “has both advantages and disadvantages and I continue to study an IR from a comprehensive viewpoint.” Should she weigh the economic impact that would be created by attracting in-bound tourists? Or should she maintain the conventional anti-gambling position? Hosting an IR would spark discussions beyond waterfront development among Tokyo residents. (Abridged)

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