Inside Asian Gaming takes a closer look at Japan’s inaugural casino regulatory body, the Casino Regulatory Commission.
The three local governments in Japan currently preparing to bid for an integrated resort development are now in the phase of working together with their selected IR operator partners on preparing a regional development plan to submit to the central government. The national application deadline is 28 April 2022.
The core feature of these IRs is casino operations. These casino operations require a license, and that license is issued by the Casino Regulatory Commission.
Formed on 7 January 2020, the Casino Regulatory Commission is an administrative committee established as an external bureau of the Cabinet, with its basis in the Act on Promotion of Development of Specified Complex Tourist Facilities Areas (IR Development Act). This committee is a consultative body made up of a committee chair and four members.
In order to achieve the objective of the IR Development Act, that “Sound casino operations run under appropriate national supervision and management,” the Commission is tasked with ensuring thorough maintenance and safety related to the development and operation of casino facilities. Therefore, the Casino Regulatory Commission is expected to provide strict supervision ensuring the integrity of Japan’s casino operators as well as compliance with casino regulations. In the event that problems occur, the Commission will be in charge of resolving the issue through administrative disposition, including possible removal of the operator.
Undertaking this burden, the Casino Regulatory Commission was established under Article 3 of the National Government Organization Law (making it an Article 3 Committee) as the organization to regulate casino activities, based on the idea that it is appropriate that it be established as a new administrative organ independent of existing bodies.
An Article 3 Committee is generally called an administrative committee and is a council system that can exercise independent authority without the command or supervision of overseers such as government ministers. These committees are generally called “Article 3 Committees” because they are stipulated in Article 3 of the National Government Organization Law, which defines the names and structures of national government organs. Article 3 stipulates that the government offices and ministries are organizations that execute administrative affairs of the cabinet, while committees and agencies are set up as external bureaus.
Article 3 Committees are administrative organs with the same rank as government agencies, but their budgets and personnel are determined within the committee in order to ensure a high level of independence. These committees are also able to enact regulations and public notices independently and are granted the authority to give orders pertaining to and publicize those regulations. The Fair Trade Commission, the National Public Safety Commission and others are examples of committees established under Article 3 of the National Government Organization Law.
The organizational philosophy of Japan’s Casino Regulatory Commission is, “Ensure sound operation through strict regulation of the casinos that support IR that proves worthy of the trust of the citizens,” and the committee vows to, “Strive to achieve sound casino operations through strict, law-based examination and supervision while ensuring fairness and independence in performing these duties.”
The Commission’s duties specifically consist of the following tasks as the administrative organ created to ensure thorough maintenance and safety related to the development and operation of casino facilities.
The Casino Regulatory Commission shall be made up of one chair and four members (two full-time and two part-time members). The committee chair is 69-year-old Michio Kitamura. The four members are Hiroyuki Ujigane, Michiko Watari, Noriko Endo and Tateshi Higuchi.
Kitamura is a legal professional with successive service in various posts including the Superintending Prosecutor of the Sendai and Fukuoka High Public Prosecutors offices. He spent 2015 to 2018 as the Inspector General of Legal Compliance of the IGO (Inspector General’s Office of legal compliance) before being appointed as the inaugural chair of the Casino Regulatory Commission in 2020.
Full-time member Hiroyuki Ujigane served as Commissioner of the Regional Taxation Bureau for Nagoya and Hiroshima before taking on the role of head of the National Printing Bureau. The National Printing Bureau is the independent administrative institution that prints paper currency, passports, bonds/securities and so forth. Incidentally, Eiichi Shibusawa, whose likeness is used on the new 10,000 yen note, was the head of the ministry’s department for currency in 1872 (equivalent to the current National Printing Bureau) and spent a lot of time and effort on reforming the modern monetary system.
Also appointed as a full-time committee member, Michiko Watari is an advisor to the DPAT (Disaster Psychiatric Assistance Team) office of the Japan Psychiatric Hospitals Association. She will be expected to provide medical insight for issues related to problem gambling.
Serving as a part-time member, Noriko Endo is a graduate of Kyoto University Graduate School specializing in energy policy and security and risk governance. She is currently a specially-appointed professor for the Keio University Graduate School of Media and Governance.
Also a part-time member is Tateshi Higuchi, the former Chief of Metropolitan Police from 2011 to 2013. He later served as ambassador plenipotentiary in Myanmar from 2014 to 2018.
The Casino Regulatory Commission has been filled with professionals in the necessary fields of law, finance, medical, security/risk management and public safety. It will be indispensable in developing the national government’s definition of “World-class IR” facilities, which will require not only casino operating licenses but supervision of operators, addiction prevention measures and more.
And now the real work begins.