The sharp drop in approval ratings is causing some members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) coalition partner, Komeito, to be wary of moving Japan’s casino plans forward.
After enacting the Integrated Resorts (IR) Promotion bill in December, Japanese lawmakers are currently working on the second piece of legislation—the IR Implementation bill—which will contain all of the necessary details needed for a casino resort development, including how casinos are regulated, the number of licenses issued, and the taxation regime that will be applied.
Japanese legislators, however, appear unsure about their prospects for pushing the IR Implementation bill through the Diet, given the Japanese public’s unease regarding the effect of casino gambling on a population already struggling with problem gamblers who can’t handle the nation’s pachinko parlors.
Low approval ratings
Compounding the problem even further is the Cabinet’s low approval ratings, which is giving some members of LDP’s junior partner a new reason not to rush with lifting the ban on casinos, according to Japanese news outlet Yomiuri Shimbun.
When the Diet passed the casino enabling bill December, some members of the Buddhist-influenced Komeito voted against the bill. Now, some of the party’s members are reportedly urging to postpone the vote on the second IR bill until the “regular Diet session next year or later.”
“At any rate, [the IR implementation bill] should not be enacted at the [autumn] extraordinary session,” said a senior Komeito official, according to the Japanese news outlet.
A Komeito project team is expected to discuss the implementation bill in September, based on the public opinions gathered by the government. The Japanese government, which is pushing to submit the second IR bill at an extraordinary Diet session in autumn, will hold public hearings in nine cities between August 17 and 29 to discuss the framework for its nascent casino industry.
Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi told reporters that he wants “discussions to proceed while paying close attention to various responses from the general public.”
Several weeks ago, the government-appointed panel tasked with recommending rules for governing Japan’s proposed integrated resort industry submitted their draft report—containing vague recommendations—to legislators.