Incoming Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida Remains Committed to Casino Policy

Posted on: September 29, 2021, 08:06h. 

Last updated on: September 29, 2021, 09:05h.

Fumio Kishida, Japan’s next prime minister, is supportive of continuing the country’s efforts to realize three large-scale integrated resort (IR) casinos.

Japan casino prime minister Fumio Kishida
A victorious Fumio Kishida celebrates his appointment to president of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party on September 29, 2021. As the party president, Kishida will replace outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga early next month. (Image: AP)

The prefectures of Osaka, Wakayama, and Nagasaki are each moving forward with IR developments. The three regions plan to submit their gaming resort schemes to Japan’s central government in the coming months.

Following his victory earlier today in a four-way race during a leadership vote among his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Kishida is set to become prime minister on Monday, October 4. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced earlier this month that he would not seek reelection.

I will, with all my energy, get straight to work,” Kishida said in his victory speech. “Party members around the country and members of parliament, please work with me.”

Prior to today’s party leadership election, Kishida was the odds-on favorite on political betting exchange PredictIt to replace Suga.

Casino Proponent

Kishida’s appointment as prime minister is welcome news to the remaining casino operators hoping to land market entry in Japan.

Kishida has been a member of the Diet’s House of Representatives since 1993. He’s been a long follower of former PM Shinzo Abe, who was responsible for urging the LDP-controlled National Diet to pass legislation authorizing commercial casino resorts.

Kishida served in a variety of positions under Abe’s leadership, including minister of state for Okinawa and the Northern Territories, and minister of foreign affairs. He was instrumental in Japan legalizing casinos, as he chaired the Policy Research Council of the LDP when the party passed its Integrated Resort Implementation Act in 2018.

When asked about the liberalization of casinos in Japan following his PM vote, Kishida pledged to carry on the IR endeavor.

Osaka and its selected IR development partner MGM Resorts hope to receive one of the three casino licenses from the central government. The MGM-led consortium has proposed constructing a $10 billion resort complex.

In Wakayama, the prefecture has picked a consortium headed by Canadian private equity firm Clairvest Neem Ventures. Nagasaki is pitching Japan a development from Casinos Austria.

Critical Election Pending

There was certainly no guarantee that the next prime minister of Japan would continue the country’s IR process. Welcoming casinos isn’t overly popular among the Japanese public. But LDP brass believe the multibillion-dollar investments will fuel much-needed tourism.

Kishida saying he will carry on the casino activity comes as that same public prepares to decide the next makeup of the National Diet. Sometime on or before November 28, most likely November 7 or November 14, a general election will occur to decide all 465 seats in the House.

The election date will be determined by when Kishida as prime minister decides to dissolve the lower chamber, as required by the Japanese Constitution. Once the House is dissolved, an election must take place within 40 days. General elections are typically held on a Sunday.

LDP officials, speaking anonymously, said the House will likely be dissolved in mid-October.