Discussion of a piece of enabling legislation, known as the Integrated Resorts (IR) Implementation Bill, a vital step in the process of legalising a casino industry in Japan, will only begin next week at the earliest in the House of Councillors, the upper chamber in the country’s parliament (pictured), it has emerged. That will almost certainly lead to an extension on the June 20 deadline originally set for the current, ordinary session of parliament.
It had been hoped that discussion of the bill in the upper house could begin this week. But on Tuesday several opposition parties pitted against the governing coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and the Buddhist-influenced Komeito, submitted a motion in the lower chamber – the House of Representatives – calling for the dismissal of the chairman of what is known as the Committee on Cabinet in that chamber. The committee deals with matters overseen by the national cabinet, which includes in this case the IR Implementation Bill.
In Tuesday’s meeting of the Committee on Cabinet, representatives of the opposition parties walked out in response to the ruling side’s proposal for the vote on the IR Implementation Bill, complaining about a lack of discussion on the measure, reported the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.
It has also emerged that opposition parties might attempt further to frustrate the bill’s parliamentary progress via a ‘no confidence’ resolution against the minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.
GGRAsia understands however that such gestures by the opposition are likely merely to slow down rather than risk killing off the bill, given the governing coalition’s large majority and the reported public commitment of the government side to extend the current sitting of parliament if necessary, to get the measure passed.
It is understood that on Thursday, the governing parties will use their majority to dismiss the opposition bid during a plenary session of the House of Representatives. Then on Friday, the Committee on Cabinet in the lower house will make a resolution regarding the IR Implementation Bill, with a view to the measure being approved at the lower chamber that same day. The bill with then be sent to the upper house next week.
According to local sources consulted by GGRAsia, the governing coalition’s view is that a maximum extra 20 days of the parliamentary session might be needed, taking the likely finishing date for the ordinary session to mid-July.
The House of Representatives started the discussion on the IR Implementation Bill on May 22. On May 25, the Committee on Cabinet of the house started the discussion on the measure.
In mid-May it emerged that Japan’s two governing parties – and an opposition party – jointly submitted another bill to the country’s parliament on the vexed issue of gambling addiction counter measures. It has previously been reported that the passage of such bill would be a condition of the timely passage of the IR Implementation Bill.
In late May several senior executives of international casino groups likely to pitch for the right to build Japan resorts said they expected casino licences in Japan to be awarded in 2020 at the earliest, if the broad regulatory framework were passed this summer.
The executives indicated additionally that the opening date for an initial casino resort or resorts might be pushed out to the year 2025.
(Updated 9.52am June 13)
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