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Upper house starts debate on casino bill

Jiji Press

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga bows after the House of Councillors passed a bill calling for measures against gambling addiction on Friday.

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The House of Councillors began talks at a plenary meeting Friday on a bill to open up to three casino-featuring integrated resorts in the country.

Expecting the casino resorts to attract more visitors to Japan, the government and ruling camp hope to have the legislation enacted during the ongoing parliamentary session through July 22. Meanwhile, parties opposing legalizing casinos are determined to employ all possible means to block the passage of the bill.

In a related move, the upper house passed into law a bill calling for measures against gambling addiction by a majority vote at the plenary meeting with support from the bill’s cosponsors — the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, its coalition partner, Komeito, and opposition Nippon Ishin no Kai — and the Democratic Party for the People, the leading opposition party in the chamber.

A question-and-answer session on the integrated resort bill began during the upper house meeting after tourism minister Keiichi Ishii explained the legislation.

In response to a question from an LDP lawmaker, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the proposed resorts are expected to benefit the economy by creating jobs and boosting tourism and regional development.

The resorts will be “a driving force” behind Japan becoming a tourism-oriented country, he stressed.

Asked by opposition members of the upper chamber to comment on the many dissenting views among the public revealed by the media, Abe complained that casinos were given “too much attention.”

Unlike other countries that have legalized casinos, Japan will limit entry by its people into such gambling facilities to three times per week and 10 times per month, if the bill becomes law, Abe noted, adding that the government will do all it can to prevent gambling addiction.

The new legislation obliges the government to draw up a basic plan to stem gambling addiction and calls for efforts by prefectural governments to implement specific programs based on the plan.Speech

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