awson Chief Executive Officer Takeshi Niinami and Suntory Executive Vice President Shingo Torii are among corporate and academic leaders forming a group to support a legalization bill introduced by lawmakers, said Hiroshi Mizohata, a former head of the Japan Tourism Agency, who will also be a member.
Niinami, who heads Japan’s second-biggest convenience store chain, and Torii of the country’s third-biggest brewer expect to add momentum behind a bill submitted last month by lawmakers from Japan’s ruling party to legalize resorts that combine casinos with hotels and convention centers. Casino operators fromMGM Resorts International to Wynn Resorts Ltd. plan to spend billions of dollars to build gambling resorts in Japan if they’re legalized, the companies have said.
Along with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, allowing casino resorts in Japan “will provide a spark for not just tourism, but also for the revitalization of local economies in the countryside,” Mizohata said in an interview. “We want to get various stakeholders involved.”
The group will work closely with lawmakers in support of the bill, make policy recommendations in collaboration with local governments and companies, and advocate for legalization to the public, Mizohata said. It will have a preparatory meeting on Feb. 5 and be officially formed around May, he said.
The organization plans to recruit members from local governments, business lobbies and companies, and will be financed by membership fees, Mizohata said.