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Justice Minister Mayumi Moriyama proposed Friday the creation of a special law to legalize casinos.

While saying it would be difficult to revise the Penal Code so that casino operations will not be subject to gambling laws, Moriyama told a news conference, “It is possible to enact a special law designed for a specific purpose.”

She pointed out that horse racing and lotteries are already permitted under special laws.

Moriyama’s comments indicate the Justice Ministry supports the idea that all local governments should be allowed to operate casinos. If casinos are limited to special deregulation zones, that would benefit only a limited number of local governments.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, however, said further study is needed to determine whether casinos should be allowed.

“The question is whether casinos should be regarded as gambling or a leisure activity. We should debate the issue as much as possible before reaching a judgment,” Fukuda said at a news conference.

Five prefectural governments called on the national government Thursday to use the planned special deregulated zones to enable them to set up casinos. The request is designed to help local governments bolster slumping economies.

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