Japan Prime Minister Suga Reaffirms Commitment to Integrated Resort Casinos

Posted on: October 29, 2020, 10:34h. 

Last updated on: October 29, 2020, 02:39h.

Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga says despite setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the country will continue pursuing integrated resort (IR) casinos.

Japan casino resort IR Suga
Japan PM Yoshihide Suga, seen here, is betting on casino resorts as a catalyst for tourism. (Image: AP)

Suga has long been a loyal Abe confidant. He plans to remain steadfast in pushing his former leader’s economic positions. That includes Japan becoming a commercial gaming market. Suga replaced Shinzo Abe last month after he stepped down because of health reasons,

Casinos are in 130 countries and regions. It is planned that Japan integrated resorts are to have international exhibition facilities, convention facilities, and large hotels to entertain whole families,” Suga told a plenary session of the House of Representatives.

Suga’s comments were first reported by GGRAsia.

Japan’s National Diet — its legislative body that consists of 710 members — is finalizing the Basic Policy that will dictate the commercial gaming market. Japan is issuing three IR licenses, and Osaka, Yokohama, Nagasaki, and Wakayama have said they will bid on the resort permits.

Honoring Abe

Suga was described by the media as Abe’s “shadow prime minister” during his nearly eight years as the head of the Japanese government. Suga was Abe’s right-hand man and is known for his stubbornness and a “my way or the highway” political tenacity.

Abe and his controlling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have led the effort to bring casinos to Japan.  The former PM believes Japan must alter its global image of being primarily a business-centric country. And Abe thinks casinos will make Japan a more hospitable destination for leisure travel.

Suga is expected to not only continue Abe’s casino ambitions, but also “Abenomics” — economic policies designed to spur growth.

Prime Minister Suga has vowed to keep to the policies of the Abe administration, so when it comes to the IR policy, there could not be a better replacement,” Bay City Ventures Managing Director Joji Kokuryo told Casino.org.

Kokuryo is one of the most sought-after gaming analysts in Asia. He’s previously worked in Macau and was the senior compliance and operations manager of Aruze Gaming.

Timeline Delayed

COVID-19 has nonetheless pushed back Japan’s IR progression. The country has extended the deadline for prefectures and cities to submit casino bids to the central government from July 30, 2021, to April 28, 2022.

The postponement could result in Yokohama withdrawing its candidacy. Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi says if a local ballot referendum polling casino support is held and her constituents oppose an IR, she will honor their position.

The Yokohama City Council has yet to comment on whether it will move forward with holding such a local referendum. Referendums in Japan are merely advisory mechanisms to display public opinion on a potential law, and prefecture and city governments do not need to adhere to their outcomes.

“Citizens consider popular referendum as the most useful means to express their views on important issues of public policy, and, in part, because local legislatures consider it a new and effective tool for challenging the central government,” explained Numata Cheiko, an adjunct professor at Temple University Japan.