JAPAN GAMBLING BILL GATHERS MOMENTUM
Through a House committee earlier this week, and now approved by the House and sent to the Upper House of the Diet.
Japan's gambling liberalization bill allowing land casinos to set up and operate has achieved unexpected progress since passing a Lower House committee of the Diet earlier this week.
On Tuesday the bill winged its way through a Lower House vote and was referred to the Upper House Cabinet committee of the Diet (parliament). Observers are speculating that there is a possibility that the bill will be approved by a plenary session of the Upper chamber scheduled for this Friday.
The ruling party control the Upper House, but observers have warned that there could be problems with the Upper House Cabinet Committee, which is controlled by Namba Shoji, a member of the opposition DP party.
Not everyone is happy with the bill’s rapid progress through the Lower House; Kazunori Yamanoi, DP’s Diet affairs chief, whose party walked out of the vote in protest, said later in a media interview:
“Casino advocates not only forcibly started debates on the bill but steamrolled it through the Lower House committee after only 5 hours and 33 minutes’ worth of deliberation. Such handling is completely disrespectful to the public, but we believe the bill isn’t even worth the trouble of voting for or against.”
They were not the only ones to abrogate responsibility and walk out of the chamber; members of the Social Democratic and Liberal parties also left in protest, whilst the Communist Party stayed and voted unsuccessfully against the bill.
Some members of the ruling party in the Upper House, including Shoji Nishida and Ichita Yamamoto, have also expressed reservations over what they saw as the "rushed" handling of the measure in the Lower House. However, the party has said that it is intent on trying get the bill passed by the Upper House before the end of the current parliamentary session on December14.
International and casino groups are watching developments closely; Japan represents a significant new potential land casino gambling market.