he bill promotes the development of integrated resorts that feature commercial facilities such as casinos and hotels.
Senior members of a suprapartisan group of lawmakers that crafted the bill held a meeting Thursday in which they confirmed a plan aiming to have the bill passed during the current Diet session. The bill promotes the development of integrated resorts that feature commercial facilities such as casinos and hotels.
This development has been spurred by last month’s appointment of Toshihiro Nikai — a supporter of the bill — as secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
The bill urges the central government to lift the ban on casinos, which are prohibited under a gambling offenses provision in the Penal Code, and to support integrated resort facilities developed by local authorities
The government has positioned these resorts as a component of its economic growth strategy since 2014 and even considered trying to open such facilities in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
There were strong hopes within the government that the bill will be passed during the current Diet session because a separate legislative framework that is needed for these resorts would require additional time.
“A bidding war to host international exhibitions and international conferences is going on between various countries,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda said at a press conference Wednesday.
“Integrated resorts are an extremely effective tool when soliciting private investment for making exhibition sites and other such facilities”
The bill was submitted to the Diet in December 2013, but was scrapped in November 2014 when the House of Representatives was dissolved. Although the bill was resubmitted in April 2015, deliberations have not progressed due to concerns over gambling addictions and a possible deterioration in public safety that might accompany casinos.
The situation surrounding the bill began to change favorably in August, when Nikai was appointed LDP secretary general in place of Sadakazu Tanigaki, who was cautious about legalizing casinos.
Nikai indicated his support for passage of the casino bill when he spoke to reporters on Sept. 10.
“If integrated resorts are necessary, then it’s important to openly and squarely speak of their necessity and make efforts to gain public support for them,” Nikai said.
The bill’s fate could hinge on the reaction of Komeito, the LDP’s ruling coalition partner. At this stage, there has been no change in Komeito’s wary stance.
Yoshihisa Inoue, perhaps the most circumspect member of Komeito on this issue, was reappointed as secretary general at the party’s convention this month. Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi also has adopted a cautious approach. “We must be very careful about introducing casinos that would be given exceptions on gambling offenses,” Yamaguchi said during a speech Wednesday.
However, there have been calls of support from young and veteran lawmakers representing constituencies in the Kyushu and Kansai regions where local authorities have been receptive to the idea of hosting integrated resorts. “These resorts are misunderstood,” one such lawmaker told The Yomiuri Shimbun. “They should be calmly discussed based on factual data.”
According to a senior LDP official, the party believes “there is a chance Komeito could be persuaded” to get behind the bill.
Because this is a lawmaker-initiated bill, one lawmaker who is a proponent of the legislation has also suggested it could possibly gain the understanding of Komeito if the party does not bind its members to toeing the party line when the vote is held.Speech