uring the interview, both Eiji Nishino and Junko talked about the importance of tourism and business convention for Osaka and neighboring prefectures.
Why has Osaka decided to promote the integrated resorts project including casinos?
In September 2009, during the meeting with Mayor Hiramatsu of Osaka city, Governor Hashimoto of Osaka Prefecture and business leaders in Osaka area, the governor proposed to study on “casinos after convention” in addition to improve the function of convention tourism. Based on this proposal, we started studying the integrated resorts including casinos from the view point of view of tourism promotion and local economic growth.
After this, reflecting the launch of Casino Congress Members Association as well as start of consideration of the integrated resorts by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Osaka founded “Framework Studying Committee of Entertainment city of Osaka” to study pros and cons for inviting the integrated resorts to Osaka in July 2010.
Who are the members of the committee?
Osaka prefectural officers, intellects, mayors and/or officers of local governments such as cities and towns in Osaka prefecture, business leaders, PTA representatives, related officials of tourism organization, and others are participating.
Which were the activities in this fiscal year 2010?
Four meetings have been held during the year. We have discussed with professionals about the basic structure of the integrated resorts outside of Japan like Singapore and negative impacts as well as economic impacts of the integrated resorts. We also studied the draft of casino acts released by the Congress Members Association. In addition, taking a chance of Governor Hashimoto’s visit to foreign countries like Macau and Singapore, he visited the integrated resorts and discussed with casino operators. Although we have not decided the timing of it yet, we are planning to conduct public opinion research with Osaka residents.
Which are the main features of the expected integrated resorts in Osaka?
According to the resorts outside of Japan, it is defined as “the resort complex with more than twenty hectores of land and convention center of more than 100,000 square meters”. However, we think the integrated resorts concept will depend on geographical location and tourism resource of each region. As you are aware, there are a lots of tourism resources; traditional cultures, national heritages and great natures in Kansai region, the center of which is Osaka. We hope Osaka and neighbors could share the positive economic impacts should Osaka have the function of entertainment. We place the integrated resorts as one of the core functions of such entertainments.
Although it is for sure that, we could not disregard China as the target; we would like to invite tourism and business travelers from all over the world including eastern Asian countries. The location has not been decided yet, but Osaka bay area would be the one of the suitable area.
Which are your next steps for this year?
We would like to have further study and promotion to our residents if we could secure budget for next year. As we have studied the draft of casino acts released by the Congress Members Association, we would like to present certain comments and proposals on it from the viewpoint of local government. We sincerely hope that the act will be passed as soon as possible.
Based on our thoughts, the most important thing is to have people in Osaka understand what the integrated resorts including casinos are. We are planning to have certain events like symposiums, to prepare the promotion brochure, and to present the economical impacts of development of integrated resorts. Regarding the action overseas, we basically communicate with major casino operators.
What do you think of certain negative impacts of the integrated resorts as well as countermeasures against them?
We have studied both of negative impacts such as gambling addiction and influence on underage and positive impacts such as economic growth at “Framework Studying Committee of Entertainment city of Osaka.” We believe that it is possible for Osaka to get rid of the negative impacts through the study of certain countermeasures of the countries that have already legalized gambling.