Likely new Japanese PM supports casino policy

by Ethan Anderson Last Updated
Wakayama prefecture in IR race

Integrated resorts investors in Japan are likely to have a supporter in recently elected president of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party Yoshihide Suga.

GGR Asia reports Mr Suga was elected on money to replace outgoing prime minister Shinzo Abe, paving the way for Mr Suga to become the next premier.

He has supported the policy of having casino complexes or integrated resorts in Japan.

The LDP leads a coalition that currently commands a majority in the country’s parliament.

The leader of the largest party usually becomes prime minister.

A decision on the top job will be taken during the next extraordinary session of the country’s parliament, due on Wednesday.

During a September 4 television interview in his Kanagawa constituency, Mr Suga said the national policy of introducing casino resorts was vital to the country’s plan for promoting inbound tourism, and that he would proceed with it.

The capital of Kanagawa prefecture is Yokohama, which has put itself forward as a likely candidate to host a casino resort under Japan’s liberalisation process.

Up to three venues will be permitted in a first phase of such opening up.

While chief cabinet secretary, Mr Suga has been deputy director-general of a national government policy linked with pushing ahead the integrated resort policy.

Nagasaki pauses its integrated resort plans 

A Japanese prefecture has halted its request for a proposal process to host a casino resort.

GGR Asia reported in August that Nagasaki’s proposal has been postponed indefinitely.

The prefectural government noted it would decide later, an “appropriate time” for launching the RFP process, but said preparation work for launching the RFP process, but said preparation work would still go on for an integrated resort.

An announcement mentioned the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated travel restrictions as reasons for halting the process.

Nagasaki is the latest in a number of local authority suitors for a casino complex, or integrated resort as they are known in Japan, to announce a pause on their casino ambitions.

Yokohama and Osaka did so even before Mr Abe stepped down.

Nagasaki had previously indicated the RFP process could be launched before the Japanese summer ended, but it now says casino resort operators, the sort of entities that could eventually become a private-sector partner for the prefecture – had suggested the postponement.

Such operators reportedly cited the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and travel restrictions that limit their opportunities for on-site visits in Japan.

Land at the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Sasebo City has been earmarked by Nagasaki as the site of an integrated resort project.

Three companies had previously confirmed to GGR Asia their respective intention to participate in Nagasaki’s RFP process.

They were: Japan’s Current Corp; a Japan unit of Casinos Austria International Holding GmbH; and Hong Kong-listed Oshidori International Holdings.

Osaka prefecture and city, confirmed last week a pause for its casino RFP.

Subsequently, the mayor of Osaka and the governor of Osaka prefecture respectively suggested that provided Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party stays at the centre of national government, then the resignation of Shinzo Abe last Friday as the country’s prime minister, should not derail Japan’s introduction of casinos.

Banking group Nomura said in a memo, offering commentary on Mr Abe’s departure, that regarding Yoshihide Suga, the chief cabinet secretary under Mr Abe – and touted in some quarters as a successor – to take over the top job, the casino policy would in likelihood remain in place.

A number of Japanese news outlets have reported that Mr Suga was expected to put himself forward as Mr Abe’s replacement.

On August 19, the mayor of Yokohama, spoke of an indefinite delay in issuing the local implementation policy on the casino resort initiative, citing the fact the national government had not yet issued its own so-called basic policy on IRs.

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