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Casino legislation straying off course

  • October 11, 2014
  • , Nikkei
  • JMH Translation

(Nikkei: October 11, 2014 – p. 4)

The suprapartisan league of Diet members working to promote the establishment of integrated resorts is in disorder over the bill to legalize casinos. The league, chaired by Hiroyuki Hosoda, executive acting secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, initially came up with the policy of allowing only foreign nationals to gamble at casinos. Later, though, the group decided to revise the bill to also allow Japanese nationals to use casino facilities if they meet certain conditions. A game of tactics is underway among political parties over the economic effects and negative aspects of casinos.

Takeshi Iwaya of the Liberal Democratic Party, who serves as secretary general of the parliamentary league, stressed at a press conference yesterday, “Limiting casino use to foreigners could give rise to constitutional problems.” The league presented the idea of limiting casino use on Oct. 7 out of consideration for the Komeito Party and the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). The two parties are calling for caution over the casino legislation out of concern for gambling addiction and the negative effects on young people. In reaction, the Japan Restoration Party (JRP) and the Prime Minister’s Official Residence [Kantei] step up efforts to recover from a setback.

The JRP reacted fiercely to the idea of making the facilities off limits to Japanese citizens. One party member emphasized that the economic effects of the facilities would be reduced as a result, indicating that unless domestic demand is factored in, the management of such facilities run into difficulties.” The Kantei also insisted, “The establishment of casino resorts is a pillar of the government’s growth strategy, so it is not desirable to allow only foreigners to use casino facilities.” Reflecting such voices, the league decided to amend the original bill.

The suprapartisan league will confirm the contents of revised portion of the bill at a general meeting on Oct. 16 and then release the revised version during deliberations. The group has asked the government to craft related bills necessary for legalizing casinos in a year. The details, such as conditions for Japanese citizens to use casinos, will be incorporated into related bills after the government studies them.

The DPJ has taken a cautious view on the casino legislation, but voices indicating approval for launching deliberations on the bill have begun to be heard in the party. Secretary General Yukio Edano stated at a press conference on Oct. 10, “Even if we start deliberations, there should be no adverse effects. (Allowing members to vote freely) is also an option.” Meanwhile, New Komeito Secretary General Yoshihisa Inoue indicated a cautious stance at a press briefing, remarking, “There are various problems and concerns. Public opposition is extremely strong.”

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