Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democrats intensify their push for legalized casinos in Japan, but a majority of Japanese people are calling their bluff!
A new survey conducted by the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper earlier this month has revealed that a significant majority of the Japanese public opposes a recent move to expand the types of gambling legally permitted in the country. The innocuously-titled “IR Law” (standing for “integrated resorts”) has rapidly gained momentum with the support of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), receiving a majority vote on December 6th in the Japanese Diet, the main legislative body in the country. The law’s subsequent adoption would eventually open the doors for casinos in Japan.
The debate surrounding the introduction of large resorts that include casinos in Japan has been simmering for many years, but has surfaced again with new intensity lately. The recent brouhaha over the issue has prompted many commentators to think long and hard about the forms of gambling already permitted under Japanese law. Until now, Japan permitted some forms of gambling, including betting at horse races, boat races, and perhaps most famously, pachinko.
▼ So that’s where they’re spending all that pension money!
The most recent survey, conducted between the 2nd and 4th of December, showed a slightly greater rate of public acceptance for the legalization of casinos than a similar poll conducted by the newspaper in 2014, when only 24 percent of respondents agreed the prohibition should be lifted. Still, opposition remains high at over 50 percent. The results also demonstrated that women oppose the idea at significantly greater rates than men, with 64 percent of female respondents indicating that they’re “against”.
▼ 57 percent of respondents were all like…
While the ruling LDP party has aggressively promoted legalization, many in Japan’s political world have also been equally firm in their criticism. Japan’s main opposition parties, including the Democratic Party, the Communist Party, and the Social Democratic Party all expressed strong dissatisfaction with the vote, with members of several parties abstaining from the vote in protest. Some members of the LDP’s main coalition party, the Buddhist-based New Komeito, also expressed distaste for the new law. In reaction, a prominent and flamboyant member of the right-leaning Osaka Ishin no Kai (English: Initiatives from Osaka) political party, Ichiro Matsui, insulted politicians opposing the law by calling one of the main opposition parties “stupid,” in a widely reported incident.
Critics of the effort to bring casinos to Japan believe that the introduction of additional forms of legalized gambling to the country could bring with it a litany of social ills, contributing to an increase in organized crime, money laundering, and general seediness. Furthermore, many commentators have expressed concern that the new law lacks provisions to address the problem of gambling addiction that would likely accompany the new forms of legalized gambling.
Advocates of the law argue that the revenue gained through this morally ambiguous new venture could fill the government’s coffers with sweet, sweet tax money at a time when it sorely needs it. Some have pointed to the successful introduction of casino resorts to infamously conservative Singapore as evidence that casinos can work, even in a country of straight-laced chewing gum haters.
It would appear that their argument ultimately won the day despite widespread opposition both in the political and private sphere. It remains to be seen, however, whether the promised-benefits will materialize. Does that mean Tokyo will become the next Sin City?
Judging from the rate these sorts of things take to happen in Japan, you’ll have plenty of time to wait. So why not read up in the meantime about some of Japan’s most ill-behaved pachinko customers?