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Poll finds nearly two-thirds oppose passage of casino bill; Cabinet’s approval rating falls to 43.4%

Kyodo

Nearly two-thirds of respondents oppose the recently passed bill authorizing the opening of Japan’s first casinos, highlighting deep-rooted public concern about gambling addiction and additional crime, a poll shows.

The telephone poll conducted by Kyodo News over the weekend found that 64.8 percent of respondents opposed the legislation and 27.6 percent supported it. The Diet, dominated by the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, passed the bill on Friday despite stiff resistance from opposition parties.

Even among those who support the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, 47.6 percent were against the casino bill, compared with 84.9 percent of those who dislike the Cabinet.

The Abe government says the legislation — which allows casinos to be built at up to three locations as part of integrated resorts comprising hotels, conference centers and shopping facilities — will boost tourism and revitalize regional economies.

Critics said that Diet deliberations were insufficient and that the nation’s ability take effective countermeasures on problem gambling and an expected rise in crime were major issues.

As for the Cabinet’s response to the rain disaster in western Japan that killed over 220 people this month, 62.2 percent were dissatisfied and 27.5 percent said it was dealt with appropriately.

Abe’s team came under fire when Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura posted photos on his Twitter account of a drinking party attended by the prime minister and members of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party, including Cabinet ministers, on July 5 even as the downpour intensified.

The Cabinet’s approval rating stood at 43.4 percent, down from 44.9 percent in June, while its disapproval rating stood at 41.8 percent.

Among other legislation that had been enacted as of Friday, a bill to address Japan’s notorious culture of overwork, viewed by Abe as the most important item on the Diet’s agenda, was opposed by 60.9 percent of respondents and backed by 27.8 percent.

Opposition parties said the bill will continue to encourage long working hours by exempting skilled, highly paid professionals from working-hour regulations.

As for who should be elected LDP president in September, Abe, the party’s current leader, and former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba were almost tied at 27.3 percent and 26.7 percent, respectively.

A question asking people to choose the best leader from Abe, Ishiba, Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda or former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida resulted in 6.8 percent support for Noda and 4.0 percent for Kishida. About 27.1 percent said none of the above.

Abe plans to announce his candidacy in August. He aims to secure a third term that will keep him in office until September 2021, making him Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, sources familiar with the matter said Saturday.

The nationwide survey, which covered 739 randomly selected households with eligible voters and 1,149 mobile phone numbers, drew responses from 510 and 513 people, respectively.