Parliamentarians from Japan’s governing Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) were given a special briefing last week about the plan to introduce one or more casino resorts to the country according to Gaming Capital Management (GCM), a consultancy. The plans have been developed by a special steering group of the DPJ and by a cross-party lobby group and are now being presented to all the lawmakers for their responses.
The briefing in Tokyo was led by those members of the DPJ with responsibility for the Cabinet, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism—the three departments of national government that would have the key responsibilities when it comes to enabling legislation for casinos and for overseeing their development and operation.
The DPJ lawmakers were updated about a proposed casino bill and on cross-party discussions held by the Diet Member Alliance for Promotion of Integrated Resorts.
Kenji Tamura, chairman for the DPJ’s Cabinet section and of his party’s casino IR (integrated resort) working team, presided over the session in a meeting room at the House of Representatives. Toru Mihara, a guest professor of Osaka University of Commerce, gave lawmakers a presentation on IR schemes in other countries. Another speaker—Akira Kurita, from one of Japan’s biggest advertising agencies, Hakuhodo Incorporated—described the success of casinos in Singapore.
According to GCM some DPJ lawmakers did voice opposition to the casino plan. In Japanese politics it’s usual for governments to seek political consensus before introducing major policy changes—unlike in the West where governing parties often rely on a house majority or internal party discipline to push changes through. Japan’s approach means it can take longer than in the West to achieve a big change in policy direction. But the country’s recent natural and nuclear disasters coupled with an economic slowdown and an ageing Japanese population has created an urgent need for fresh sources of economic growth and government revenue. International tourism has been identified as one such source and integrated casino resorts as a catalyst for increasing inbound tourism.
During Thursday’s meeting, government bodies including the National Police Agency, Japan Tourism Agency, and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare were invited to submit comments on a proposed casino bill and to indicate if they would be willing to have official roles in the administration of a casino industry. According to GCM the organisations agreed to provide official responses at the next briefing meeting.