Japanese Lawmaker Alleges That US Figures Are Influencing IR Bill
The Japanese Integrated Resort (IR) Implementation Bill is being currently discussed on the legislative floor of the Japanese government. The bill has been discussed since the beginning of the year. However, Tetsuya Shiokawa, a representative from the Japanese Communist Party, has accused the Japanese government of reshaping the IR Implementation Bill to fit the preferences of Las Vegas Sands Corp chairman and billionaire Sheldon Adelson and even that of US President Donald Trump.
Shiokawa believes that powerful American business interests have intervened with the Japanese government at the highest levels to change the IR Implementation Bill. He specifically believes that Adelson decided to intervene and change the absolute limit placed on the casino floor space.
When the bill was first proposed back in 2017, there was an absolute limit of 15,000 square meters for casino floor space – despite the size of the Integrated Resort. However, as of March of this year, this absolute limit has been quietly dropped.
Shiokawa points to the August 2017 visit made by Adelson when he visited Osaka. During that visit, the Las Vegas Sands founder announced that a restriction on the casino floor size would not allow his company to create the ideal IR experience in Japan.
Shiokawa also believes that President Trump raised the issue when he was in bilateral discussions with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The most recent meeting between Abe and Trump was on June 7, before his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Considering that Adelson is one of Trump’s biggest supporters and a top leader in the US casino industry, this interference is very concerning to the Japanese casino industry.
Press Conference Called To Highlight Concerns
This was all revealed in a June 12 press conference which was a last-minute appeal to try and stop the legislation. Shiokawa’s press conference was in conjunction with five other lawmakers. This included Tomoko Abe of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Denny Tamaki of the Liberal Party, Masaharu Nakagawa of the Group of Independents, and Shuji Inatomi of the Democratic Party For the People.
The press conference highlighted the opposition against the IR Implementation Bill. According to these five lawmakers, opinion polls have the public opposing the legalization of casinos. Additionally, the bill did not sufficiently lay out a course of action that would minimize the potential harm that these casinos could cause the public. Tomoko Abe points out that while the government intends for the casinos to attract foreign tourists, studies show that a majority of the customers would be Japanese.