Chiba, Jan. 7 (Jiji Press)–The city of Chiba said Tuesday that it will not seek to host a casino-featuring integrated resort, or IR, citing its priority on reconstruction following last year’s typhoon disaster.
The city, east of Tokyo, was considering bidding to host an IR as the central government plans to open such facilities at up to three locations in Japan.
“Campaigning to host an IR would take a lot of energy at a time when we need to place our top priority on postdisaster reconstruction and restoration,” Chiba Mayor Toshihito Kumagai told a press conference.
He said the city’s decision has nothing to do with the unfolding bribery scandal involving some lawmakers including a former state minister in charge of IR policy.
On Tuesday, the government launched a body to regulate and supervise casinos to be opened in the country, while public prosecutors are investigating the bribery case.
The city of Yokohama, south of the capital, will continue working to host an IR as the government is “moving ahead as scheduled,” a city official said.
Speaking to reporters the same day, Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui reiterated the western city’s hope of opening an IR by the end of fiscal 2026.
The introduction of IRs is “aimed at developing Japan as a tourism-oriented country,” and the new Casino Regulatory Commission was established to “shut out shady operators,” said Matsui, also leader of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party).
In the scandal, Nippon Ishin lawmaker Mikio Shimoji has admitted that he received money from 500.com Ltd., a Chinese company hoping to run a casino in Japan.
The Tokyo metropolitan government has not said whether it will join the IR race. Governor Yuriko Koike told reporters that there is no change in the metropolitan government’s stance.