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Yokohama mayor says she will “respect results of referendum” on casino IRs

  • October 22, 2020
  • , Kanagawa Shimbun , p. 25
  • JMH Translation

By Yuri Sato and Akiko Okamoto


Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi’s comment that she will “respect the results” of a referendum on casino-featuring integrated resorts (IRs) has created a stir. To date, the mayor has been averse to holding a referendum. Her comment could be understood to mean that Yokohama will back out of inviting an IR in the event that a referendum is held and shows those opposed [to an IR] to be in the majority. Her comment has confused people who have supported the development of an IR in the city, while those opposed to an IR intend to push for “a referendum at all cost.”


Hayashi made the comment at her regular press briefing on Oct. 16. The mayor was asked whether the results of a referendum would affect policy, in the event that a referendum is approved by the city council and takes place. Hayashi responded that “if those opposed to the IR are in the majority, I will respect that” and that she “does not wish to take a hardline stance and say ‘Yokohama must go ahead [with an IR].’”


“Why did she say that out of the blue…” mused a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) insider who supports the IR and was perplexed by Hayashi’s comment, which could be taken as an about-face. The insider commented that the mayor seems to have “become a ‘good child’ who follows the decision of the city council and residents.”


Nao Okada, managing chairman of the “Yokohama citizens group to decide on the rights and wrongs of a casino,” a group which is gathering signatures to hold a referendum, welcomed Hayashi’s comments. Setsu Kobayashi, joint representative of the group, said that “the mayor changed her thinking” as a result of the group’s activities. (Abridged)

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