National / Politics

Japan opposition submits bill to scrap casino laws amid bribery scandal

JIJI, Kyodo

Four major opposition parties introduced a bill to scrap laws on casino resorts to the Diet on Monday as it convened to begin a 150-day regular session.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the Democratic Party for the People, the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party jointly submitted the bill to the House of Representatives.

Last week, Lower House lawmaker Tsukasa Akimoto was served an additional arrest warrant in a bribery scandal related to an envisioned project to create one of the so-called integrated resorts that will feature casino facilities. Akimoto quit Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party after the scandal broke.

“Casinos would be hotbeds of fraud and corruption,” a senior CDP official said.

The opposition bill seeks to repeal a law on the development of such resorts that was passed in 2018 and a related law on promotion of their development passed in 2016. Akimoto was Lower House Cabinet Committee chairman when the promotion law was discussed in the Diet.

The opposition bloc plans to use the casino issue to put pressure on the government and the ruling coalition during the ordinary Diet session.

“We submitted the bill as the first step to make the government give up introducing casinos,” CDP parliamentary affairs head Jun Azumi told reporters.

Meanwhile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference, “We’ll will make necessary preparations so that the (positive) effects of integrated resort development will become evident as early as possible.”

Opposition parties are set to grill Abe and the government over the controversial handling of public documents pertaining to a state-funded cherry blossom-viewing party as well.

The government is also expected to face pressure to justify its recent decision to dispatch Self-Defense Forces personnel and assets to some areas in the Middle East, excluding the Strait of Hormuz, a strategically important waterway for shipping.

Some opposition lawmakers want the government to cancel the deployment, which is aimed at enhancing information-gathering capabilities to assist with the safe navigation of commercial ships.

As an extension of the session is expected to be difficult ahead of the Tokyo gubernatorial race and the Olympics and Paralympics this summer, the government has decided to submit 52 bills — fewer than usual and the lowest on record for a regular session since the Constitution entered into force in 1947.

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