Deliberations over a bill to legalise in principle casino gambling in Japan looked likely to drag on Tuesday (December 13), as the bill faces opposition parties’ protests in the parliament’s upper house, reports the Kyodo news agency.
The media outlet said the Democratic Party and smaller opposition parties have signalled they will do “all they can to block the bill’s progress” in the cabinet committee of the upper house. Even though the governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) holds a majority in the upper house, the chairman of the cabinet committee that received the bill – and who has significant powers over the timing of votes on bills – is Democratic Party lawmaker Shoji Namba.
The LDP of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was still trying to get the bill through the committee vote on Tuesday in order to vote it at an upper house plenary meeting before the extraordinary session of the parliament – a body known as Diet (pictured) – comes to an end on Wednesday.
LDP secretary general Toshihiro Nikai indicated at a press conference on Tuesday that the party remains determined to get the bill through the upper house before the end of the extraordinary session, said Kyodo.
But members of the Democratic Party told the LDP in a cross-party meeting on Tuesday afternoon that they would not take part in a vote on the casino enabling bill, reported the news agency. The Democratic Party asked for the bill to be resubmitted to the lower house with various amendments, it added.
The lower house of parliament voted through the bill to legalise in principle casino gambling on December 6. Opposition parties have criticised the speed with which the bill has cleared previous deliberations.
Kyodo also quoted Kazunori Yamanoi, chairman of the Democratic Party Diet Affairs Committee, as saying that the party would “take every possible measure” to prevent the enactment of the casino bill. That, according to the media outlet, was a reference to the possibility of submitting a no-confidence motion against Mr Abe’s government.
Casino legalisation in Japan will be a two-statute process. After the enabling bill legalising casino resorts at the conceptual level, a second piece of legislation – known as the implementation bill – would detail the specifics: how they are administered and regulated; the taxation regime to be applied to them; their location; and the number of licences to be issued.
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Lionel Leong Vai Tac
Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance