Japan Casino Supporter Yoshihide Suga to Become Next Prime Minister

Posted on: September 14, 2020, 10:01h. 

Last updated on: September 14, 2020, 10:52h.

The odds of Japan casino resorts one day becoming a reality strengthened Monday, as Yoshihide Suga, 71, secured his path to become the country’s next Prime Minister.

Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga
Yoshihide Suga has been elected the next president of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, which paves the way for him to become the next Prime Minister. (Image: Masaki Sato/AP)

The controlling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) kicked off the week by electing Suga to replace outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as its next party president. In times of emergency, such is the case with Abe’s resignation because of health issues, the PM’s party members in the National Diet vote on his or her successor. Each of Japan’s 47 prefectures additionally receive three votes.

Suga received 377 votes during Monday’s party election. Former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida received 89 votes, and former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba received 68 votes.

“I will devote all of myself to work for the nation and the people,” Suga said in his victory speech.

Part of that work, Suga says, will be continuing Abe’s wishes to bring commercial integrated resorts (IR) to Japan. The casino destinations have been seen by Abe as a way to make Japan a more attractive leisure destination. Abe’s goal is for Japan to welcome 60 million visitors annually by 2030.

Japan’s full National Diet will elect its next PM on Wednesday. With Suga now the head of the LDP, the party’s dominance in both chambers almost assures he will become Abe’s successor.

Good News for Casinos

COVID-19 has greatly delayed Japan’s effort to bring three multibillion-dollar casino resorts to the Land of the Rising Sun. The setbacks, including the country’s failure to meet its own self-imposed July 26, 2020, deadline to release its Basic Policy, have resulted in waning interest among the world’s major casino operators.

Once the presumptive front-runner for one of the three IR licenses, Las Vegas Sands has withdrawn its candidacy. MGM Resorts says it’s now more interested in a minority stake role in an IR, and Wynn Resorts recently closed its Yokohama office.

Suga’s appointment to the presidency of the LDP is welcome news to remaining casino operators interested in winning licensure in Japan. Companies still mulling proposals include Melco Resorts, Galaxy Entertainment, Hard Rock, and Genting.

The central government has made no adjustment to its July 30, 2021, date to receive proposals from prefectures and cities and their preferred IR casino partner.

Abe Continuation

Suga has been a long confidant of Abe, and has pledged to continue many of his policies. Abe believes the country is in good hands.

“I’m handing the baton to new LDP President Suga,” Abe said Monday. “We can count on him.”

Suga plans to continue Abe’s “Abenomics.” The PM’s signature economic policy plan is based on “three arrows” — monetary easing from the Bank of Japan, fiscal stimulus through government spending, and structural reforms.

COVID-19 has slowed Abe’s economic overhaul, and paired with Japan’s aging population and slowing birth rate, Suga says, now more than ever, the country must remain committed to “Abenomics.”

We must overcome this crisis, so that each person in Japan can feel safe and have a stable living. In order to do that, we need to carry on Prime Minister Abe’s measures and move forward with them,” Suga declared. “I believe it is my mission to do so.”

Suga has been Abe’s chief cabinet secretary since December of 2012.