Tokyo, Jan. 10 (Jiji Press)–The Japanese government’s Casino Regulatory Commission held its first meeting on Friday, amid a high-profile bribery scandal related to casino-featuring integrated resorts.
At the closed-door meeting, the five members of the commission, including its head, Michio Kitamura, former chief of the Fukuoka High Public Prosecutors Office, discussed rules regulating its operations. It will also work on drawing up regulations on IR operators.
“The members of the commission and staff of its secretariat will unite and work with a sense of tension to build trust with the public over casino business,” Kitamura said at a press conference after the meeting. He also stressed the commission’s resolve to deal appropriately with casino-related concerns among the public, such as gambling addiction and a rise in crime.
The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office’s special investigation squad is investigating the scandal in which Japanese lawmaker Tsukasa Akimoto, former Cabinet Office state minister for the government’s project to launch IRs, has been arrested for allegedly accepting bribes worth 3.7 million yen from a Chinese company that was planning to open a casino resort in Japan.
While the government plans to move forward with the IR initiative, opposition parties are expected to submit a bill to scrap an IR-related law to the regular session of the Diet, Japan’s parliament, that starts on Jan. 20.
“I plan to supervise our staff at the secretariat so that the commission’s fairness and neutrality will not be questioned,” Kitamura said.
The commission, affiliated with the Cabinet Office, was established on Tuesday.
Like the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the commission has independent authority, being able to issue licenses necessary to run casinos in Japan and cancel the licenses if irregularities are found.
The secretariat currently has 95 workers, and the number will be increased by 25 in fiscal 2020, which starts in April. The envisaged casino regulations, including mandatory measures to prevent gambling addiction, will likely be drawn up by spring 2021.
The government plans to allow up to three IRs to be opened in Japan. It is slated to announce within this month criteria for selecting areas hosting IRs, which will be launched in the mid-2020s at the earliest.