Japan Tourism Agency Reorganizes to Take on IR Selection Duties

The organization of the Japan Tourism Agency—which falls under the auspices of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism—has been reshuffled to strengthen its ability to carry out its duties to select candidate sites for licensing and to oversee the IR industry.

The new International Tourism Department has an inaugural staff of 73 people under the leadership of its director, Jun Takashina. The executives include two counsellors, one who has primary responsibility of the IR industry and the other in charge of cooperation with international organizations.

While the Office of Integrated Resort Regime Promotion within the Cabinet Office has temporarily been taking the lead in drawing up the regulations governing the IR industry, at some point it will dissolve and the International Tourism Department will take over that role.

The Casino Management Board, an independent agency under the umbrella of the Cabinet Office, was also meant to come into existence this week, but its creation has been delayed by the Abe government so as not to have any impact on the ruling party’s electoral performance in the upcoming House of Councillors elections.

However, it seems that creating the International Tourism Department (which has a broader mandate and doesn’t include the words “casino” or “IR” in its name) was judged sufficiently low profile that it was safe to go ahead with it now.

The International Tourism Department will come into focus in 2020 or 2021 when local governments and their partner consortiums appeal to it for selection as one of the three licensed IRs across the nation. (AGB Nippon)