The ruling bloc rammed a divisive casino legalization bill through an Upper House committee Tuesday evening, opening the door to its likely passage on Wednesday, the last scheduled day of the current Diet session.

An eleventh-hour war of words between the ruling and opposition blocs broke out as the ongoing extraordinary Diet session was set to wrap up Wednesday after a two-week extension.

Advocates of the bill, including Abe, support what they call the establishment of integrated resorts (IR), including casinos, restaurants, shopping malls and theme parks, as a much-needed boost to Japan’s economy and tourism industry.

Opponents say the bill would trigger a raft of social ills such as surges in gambling addiction, organized crime and juvenile delinquency.

Opposition parties, including the Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party, have fought the bill, citing the haste with which it has been deliberated during the legislative session.

On Tuesday, DP Diet affairs chief Kazunori Yamanoi was quoted as saying he will “take every possible measure” to block the bill’s enactment, signaling his party’s intention to submit a no-confidence motion against the Abe Cabinet.

Toshihiro Nikai, secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, on Monday said flatly that the party would veto such a motion.

“No offense, but no matter how many times you resort to a no-confidence motion, the result will always the same given how many seats we control. So I’d say bring it on,” he said.

Nikai said Tuesday the LDP remains unwavering in its determination to pass the bill, which he described as “important legislation.”

“We’re facing a very difficult situation, but we still have some time left,” he said. “We are sticking to the stance that we will go all out” to pass it.

Meanwhile, a bill to revamp the national pension system cleared a separate Upper House committee Tuesday evening despite widespread opposition protest.

The bill will change the way pension payments are calculated, sparking worries that from fiscal 2021 onward, benefits will be reduced in tandem with wage declines among the working population.

The government defends the plan as necessary to “increase the sustainability of the system.”

Information from Kyodo added

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