Civil groups in Japan have challenged their local casino resort policies. However, their concerns might go unheard if their local governments refuse to cooperate.
A Group in Osaka Demands a Referendum
As reported by GGRAsia, two separate groups in Osaka and Nagasaki have challenged their local integrated resort (IR) proposals. This comes in the wake of the prefectures submitting IR development proposals in April. In late April, both Osaka and Nagasaki showed interest in hosting large tourist-oriented casino complexes. However, a part of the local populace doesn’t seem too keen on the idea.
This Monday, a civil group in Osaka gathered 208,552 signatures from people who want a referendum to be held. This number exceeds the minimum of 146,500 signatures (2% of the local voters) by a large margin. It can take up to a month before the government verifies the signatures but when they are, the demand will go to the local governor.
Hirofumi Yoshimura, governor of the Osaka prefecture, addressed the matter soon after the anti-casino group gathered the votes and shared that he thinks a referendum is unnecessary. Furthermore, a referendum must receive support from the prefectural assembly. It just so happens that more than half of the members of the assembly support the IR policy, GGRAsia claims.
In addition, the Osaka city council, the other governing body in the prefecture, has already rejected a previous attempt to hold a referendum on the IR development proposal.
A Nagasaki Group Submitted a Resident Audit Request
Meanwhile, Nagasaki’s bid for an integrated resort is also meeting opposition. On June 2, a local civil group announced that it has submitted a resident audit request to the prefecture. The group asked the audit committee to evaluate whether the commission fee payment of ¥110 million ($830,000) that was provided to consultants to support the IR process was legally appropriate.
Additionally, the group shared that it remains highly skeptical of Casinos Austria International Japan’s fundraising plan and doesn’t think it will meet the requirements of the central government. The citizens doubt that Nagasaki and its partner will win the bid.
Even if an audit committee does evaluate the proposal, it will be appointed by Kengo Oishi, the local governor and will require the consent of the prefectural assembly. This means that the citizens’ concerns in Nagasaki might also go unheard.
For reference, the projected cost of the Nagasaki IR scheme will be around $3.4 billion. Building a resort in Osaka, on the other hand, would require an initial investment of $7.5 billion.