The mayor of Sasebo in Nagasaki, Japan, Norio Tomonaga, has just begun his fourth term as the leader of the city. He’s ready to continue the work he has done over the past 12 years and has reiterated his position on eight major projects he has on his plate. One of these, and perhaps the one that sits at the top of the priority list, is a plan to bring an integrated resort (IR) to the city.
There are a number of cities in Japan that would love to see an IR, but there are three that stand out as possibilities for the first three licenses that will be awarded. These include Osaka, Hokkaido and Wakayama, names that have been thrown around even before Japanese lawmakers approved the launch of the country’s casino industry last summer.
Despite being an underdog, Sasebo believes it has a real shot. It has worked out a deal to acquire about 74 acres from a local theme park, Huis Ten Bosch, which would be used for the IR. Tomonaga asserts, “I have been researching IRs for over 10 years and I want to win this battle for my area.”
Japan is almost ready to start the selection process, but the final decision on the three chosen areas could still be a year away. Lawmakers are putting together the basic policies for the selection process and are ready to start receiving preliminary notices from interested locations. Once the final three locations are chosen, those cities and their casino partners will submit their design plans to the government, which would then need to be approved, as well. It’s going to be a long process that most likely won’t be completed anytime soon.
In April, the Sasebo Chamber of Commerce, along with Nagasaki officials of the Nagasaki Marine IR Promotion Council, held a seminar that was designed to highlight the city’s benefits and features. Kousei Tsuji of the council said in announcing the seminar, “We are pleased to launch the Business-Connect seminar as the great opportunity to increase the awareness of the scale of IR development, and support for the integrated resort industry within the local private sector of Sasebo. It is important that local business leaders understand the full potential the industry brings to the region and are presented with opportunities to connect with international operators who may invest into our city.”