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Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is closely watching the Yokohama mayoral election that Hachiro Okonogi, a former Suga cabinet member, has entered, taking a surprising stand. (Nikkei montage/Reuters/Kyodo/AP)
Inside Japanese politics

Yokohama election tests Japan's casino push amid COVID headwind

Fierce mayoral race pits incumbent against raft of candidates opposing resort

TETSUYA SAITO, Nikkei senior staff writer | Japan

TOKYO -- The voters of Yokohama, which with a population of 3.77 million is Japan's biggest municipality, could end up hobbling the central government's efforts to bring casinos to the country.

On Aug. 22, the voters of the Kanagawa prefectural capital will choose their next mayor, with the official campaign period starting on Sunday. The race has grown tense due to a proposal for the city just southwest of Tokyo to host a large casino-centered entertainment and leisure resort. Plans call for the possible "integrated resort" to also hold hotels, restaurants and conference halls.

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