The Japanese government has finalized its Basic Policy for IRs, including standards for the selection of up to three development areas, at the assembly of the Headquarters for Promoting IR.
The final version of the long-awaited Basic Policy contains items related to contact rules between public servants and operators in light of concerns over corruption.
As previously reported by IAG, the cabinet recently revealed an extension to the bidding period for local governments by nine months, starting from October 2021. Although the aim was to open the first Japanese IR in the mid-2020s, that has now been pushed back to later in the decade due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number of tourists to Japan have decreased dramatically in 2020 as a result of COVID-19, but that hasn’t stopped the government from setting a goal of 60 million annual tourists by 2030. The hope is that IRs will help spark a tourism boom.
At the IR Promotion Headquarters, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said, “[IR] is an important initiative in order for Japan to proceed as an advanced tourist nation. We are moving ahead with the necessary preparations.”
With the Basic Policy decided, preparations of the local governments hoping to bid will be in full-swing, including working out development plans with operators. However, COVID-19 is not slowing down in Japan, clouding the future of IR concepts.
The Basic Policy clearly states an emphasis on economic results and a solid relationship with the region for all locations certified for IR development.
There is a requirement for rules of contact between both national and local officials and operators, such as meetings only being allowed in government buildings when attended by multiple personnel. There is also a requirement for local governments and operators to take measures to prevent the spread of infection and to address problem gambling.
The national government had originally planned to decide on this Basic Policy in January of this year, but the combination of the 500.com corruption case and COVID-19 pandemic forced revision of the schedule. The original application period schedule was also postponed from 4 January to 30 July 2021 until 1 October 2021 to 28 April 2022.
As of now, four regions have officially expressed their intent to bid: Osaka prefecture/city, Yokohama city, Wakayama prefecture, Nagasaki prefecture.