National

Chiba backs out of bidding to host one of Japan's first casinos

JIJI

The city of Chiba said Tuesday that it will not seek to host a casino resort, citing its priority on reconstruction following natural disasters.

The central government plans to open “integrated resorts” at up to three locations and Chiba was considering a bid.

“Campaigning to host an IR would take a lot of energy at a time when we need to place our top priority on post-disaster reconstruction and restoration,” Chiba Mayor Toshihito Kumagai told a news conference.

He said the city’s decision has nothing to do with the unfolding bribery scandal involving some lawmakers, including a former state minister who was in charge of the government’s casino resort policy.

On Tuesday, the government launched a body to regulate and supervise casinos that will be opened in the country. Public prosecutors are still investigating the bribery case.

Yokohama will continue working on a bid to host a casino as the government is “moving ahead as scheduled,” a city official said.

Speaking to reporters the same day, Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui reiterated the city’s hope of opening a resort by the end of fiscal 2026.

The introduction of casino resorts is “aimed at developing Japan as a tourism-oriented country,” and the new Casino Regulatory Commission was established to “shut out shady operators,” said Matsui, who also leads Nippon Ishin no Kai.

In the scandal, Nippon Ishin lawmaker Mikio Shimoji has admitted that he received money from 500.com Ltd., a Chinese company that was hoping to establish a casino in Japan. He left the party on Tuesday.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has not said whether it will enter the bidding. Gov. Yuriko Koike has told reporters that there was no change in the metropolitan government’s stance.