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Japan – Front runner for Japan’s Prime Minister role says casinos are ‘essential’ for tourism

By - 7 September 2020

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who is running for the LDP in the Prime Ministerial election, has confirmed his belief that Japan’s attempts to launch integrated casino resorts is ‘essential’ for tourism in the country.

Concern has grown over the future casino sector in Japan following Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to retire. He was a keen advocate of bringing casino gaming to the country.

Mr. Suga is the favourite of three politicians to replace Abe as Prime Minister with the other two being Fumio Kishida and Shigeru Ishiba. He has been Abe’s right-hand man for almost eight years and has overseen some of the policymaking for casinos.

In a TV appearance, Mr. Suga said: “I believe that an IR is essential for our tourism promotion policy. There tends to be a sole focus on the casino element, but the government is going to promote an IR that families can enjoy as an entertainment facility and hotel, and where visitors can bring their family for international conventions.”

Vosts will be cast on September 14 at a meeting of party members of both houses of the Diet.

In June, the Prime Minister said: “Tourism is expected to recover once the infectious disease is contained. IR will help Japan become an advanced tourism country.”

The Japan Times said: “Abe’s resignation may stall the process further, possibly affecting the government’s goal of opening casino resorts in the middle of the 2020s. The delayed process is affecting the preparations of local governments seeking to host casinos. The Osaka prefectural and city governments have abandoned their plans to open a casino resort before the 2025 World Expo in the city. The city government of Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, has said its plan to open a casino resort in the late 2020s may be postponed. There also has been a delay in the preparations of the Wakayama and Nagasaki prefectural governments.”

Abe said: “We can’t afford any mistakes in important political decisions if my judgment is clouded by pain. I no longer have the capacity to confidently fulfil the role entrusted to me by the citizens, so I have decided I am no longer in a position to serve as Prime Minister.”

Nomura research analyst Takashi Miwa said: “Compared with the tight rein that Mr Abe kept on policy, there is almost inevitably going to be some loss of political cohesion, even if only temporarily. And while the market will no doubt welcome the likely continuation of the Abe administration’s policies, those policies may no longer be seen as being as sustainable as they once were.Having served as Chief Cabinet Secretary since December 2012, he[Suga] has had a guiding hand in the way successive (second to fourth) Abe administrations have kept a tight rein on policy and can be expected to maintain that style if elected. As well as continuing Mr Abe’s policy of reforming the social security system, we expect he would continue his policies of promoting tourism, including legalising casinos.”

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