The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) will conduct a survey within this month of prefectures and ordinance-designated cities across the country about their intention to host an integrated resort (IR) and the timing of the opening of the facility, sources informed the Sankei Shimbun on Sept. 10. The administration will encourage municipalities to open IRs as soon as possible with an eye toward achieving the government’s goal of “welcoming 60 million tourists to Japan in 2030.” This is the second such survey, the first one having been conducted last September. In the case of the second survey, government will publicly disclose the results. All eyes are on Tokyo because the city has yet to make clear its intention. Based on results of the survey, MLIT plans to determine the period for screening candidate municipalities for approval. The ministry intends to complete the acceptance of applications around 2021 to 2022.
MLIT released the “draft basic policy” on integrated resorts on Sept. 4. In the policy, the ministry set various approval criteria for IR location, including “the development of transport infrastructure.” On the other hand, the government decided not to specify in the policy the period it would accept applications from municipalities.
To set the period for accepting applications, the government judged that it needs to first ascertain municipalities’ rough schedule for opening an IR and so it decided to conduct a nationwide survey. Prefectures and ordinance-designated cities were surveyed, including Yokohama City, which has announced its intention to seek to host an IR, and Tokyo, which is currently considering the matter.
“If more than one municipality has a plan with the same capacity for attracting customers, the one that can open the IR earlier will have advantage over the other in the approval process,” said a senior MLIT official. “We want municipalities to leave some extra time in the construction schedule and still be able to open their IR before 2030.” For this reason, MLIT intends to complete the acceptance of applications for hosting IR around 2021 to 2022 in light of the fact that construction will take about three years. The ministry also plans to complete the approval of up to three locations for hosting IR by 2022 to 2023 and urge IR operators to open their facilities as soon as possible.
MLIT is currently carrying out public comment procedures on the draft basic policy. Based on results of the upcoming nationwide survey, the ministry will release a complete version of the draft basic policy as early as November and solicit public opinions once again. Following discussions by relevant ministries and agencies and screening by the Casino Administration Committee thereafter, the government will draft a basic policy as early as the beginning of next year.