New Japanese PM Says Integrated Resorts Important For Tourism
Japan’s push to get integrated resorts (IRs) up and running has been extremely slow much to the frustration of interested casino operators. The new Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida who took up office on Oct 4 has come out and supported the push for IR’s to be developed as quickly as possible in Japan.
PM Kishida recently held an inquiry with members of the House of Representative to discuss his general policies. Since his support for IR’s are very much public, he was grilled by a representative from the Constitutional Democratic Party, which is very much opposed to IRs, as well as meetings incentives, conferences and exhibitions business (MICE), and similar establishments.
Deputy Representative Kiyomi Tsujimoto was the one to grill the new PM about his stance, questioning Kishida over whether these gambling facilities would be an effective business model post-pandemic, and even raising concerns over gambling addiction.
Tsujimoto also stated that his party has already submitted a bill to abolish the IR/Casino Bill, and would then challenge Kishida to demonstrate national policy.
In his rebuttal, PM Kishida stated that domestic IRs would take measures against gambling addiction. And in addition to casinos, IRs will also include international conference halls and large hotels. This means that all members of the family can enjoy them, so it can attract a “huge number” of tourists. In turn, it would have positive effects to the economy because of all the money these tourists will be bringing.
The new Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Tetsuo Saito, previously stated in an October 5 briefing that the new PM has tasked him to keep close tabs on the plan to bring in 60 million inbound visitors to Japan by 2030. He added that the IR policy is certainly part of their plan in order to reach this goal.
Long-Time Proponent Of Casinos
PM Kishida, as well as the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) which he currently leads, have been pushing for IRs for years. In fact, Kishida served as the chairperson of his party’s policy research council when the Integrated Resorts Implementation Act was implemented in 2018. He and his party negotiated with their minority partners, the Komeito party, to pass it through parliament.
Other members of the party are also backing IRs. During the 2018 edition of the Japan Gaming Congress, then-acting LDP Secretary General Koichi Hagiuda has stressed that IRs would focus more on MICE, rather than gambling itself.
The Japanese government has now opened applications for cities to host an IR. And with the liberalisation programme, the government can permit up to three resorts to operate. Currently, there three cities are in the running to host their own large-scale IRs. They are Osaka, Nagasaki and Wakayama.