Family Name: Abe
Given Name: Shinzo
Party: Liberal Democratic Party
Role: Liberal Democratic Party President and Prime Minister of Japan
IR Stance: Advocate
Profile: A life-long politician from a family of politicians, Abe was groomed to be prime minister from a young age. He achieved this ambition briefly in 2006-2007, and then much more successfully since December 2012. Abe is a rightwing conservative and an advocate for the construction of IRs in Japan.
The decision by Hokkaido Governor Naomichi Suzuki to drop out of the Japan IR race does not simply remove one more local government from contention, it also represents the collapse of what was arguably the strongest IR initiative outside of the Kansai and Kanto regions, the regional IR which probably would have produced the highest financial returns.
It seemed that all and sundry in gaming circles had considered it a foregone conclusion that Osaka will be a venue for one of the first three Integrated Resorts (IR) to be developed in Japan.
The race to gain one of the three available IR licenses is advancing into the decisive stage, with Japanese local governments and international IR operators eagerly lining up for approval. However, the Japanese general public remains broadly on the sidelines, not waiting in anticipation, but rather sullenly watching developments they don’t approve of.
The Abe government is pulling back from the planned July 1 establishment of the Casino Management Board and the issuance of more specific IR bidding regulations out of concern that Japanese public opinion remains hostile to the legalization of casino gambling.
As anticipated, the Abe Cabinet approved on Tuesday the proposals for IR regulation that had been outlined by the Headquarters for Promoting Development of Specified Complex Tourist Facilities Areas on February 1.
Although not a new story, a ProPublica article published this week about US President Donald Trump’s February 2017 advice to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to select Las Vegas Sands for one of the Japanese casino licenses has ricocheted across both the international and Japanese-language news media, bringing the matter much more scrutiny than had previously been the case.
Two major US operators, Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts, delivered press releases hailing the passage of the IR Implementation Act shortly after it occurred on Friday night.
Over the fierce protests of opposition lawmakers, deliberations on the IR Implementation Bill kicked off on Tuesday within the Cabinet Committee of the House of Councillors.
The evening tabloid Nikkan Gendai, a stalwart of train station kiosks with a daily circulation said to be in excess of 1.6 million, spelled out in a recent article the conspiracy theory regarding US President Donald Trump and the establishment of IRs in Japan that seems to have exercised a degree of influence over the national political debate.
Tetsuya Shiokawa, a seven-term House of Representatives lawmaker of the Japan Communist Party, has been arguing repeatedly that the Japanese government has changed the shape of the IR Implementation Bill to suit the preferences of powerful American businessmen—and he’s not pleased about it.
According to Japanese media reports, the ruling party intends to pass the IR Implementation Bill thorough the Cabinet Committee on June 13 and through a plenary session of the House of Representatives on the following day, June 14.
The long-awaited parliamentary debate on the IR Implementation Bill began Tuesday in a plenary session of the House of Representatives, but on the very eve of its commencement a revelation regarding one of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s swirling scandals shook the government anew.
While it still seems highly likely that the IR Implementation Bill will be passed in the current Diet session, the possibility that scandal could suddenly bring down the Abe government can no longer be entirely discounted.
On the issue of IR development in Japan, the Shinzo Abe government has, from start to finish, acted like a political bulldozer, assuming that the opposition parties and the majority opinion of the Japanese people could simply be swept aside by overwhelming force. This approach has indeed taken them a long way forward, but the costs are now mounting and the limits may be in sight.