Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly Witnesses Rising Opposition to IR
Tokyo hasn’t made any official announcements about its plans to bid for one of Japan’s three upcoming integrated casino resort licenses. The chances of the country’s capital city entering the commercial gambling competition have only grown after Sunday’s Metropolitan Assembly election.
The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is Japan’s ruling party. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s party, the National Diet, won just 33 seats out of 127 in the municipal assembly election on Sunday. The Komeito, its sister party, got 23 seats. The alliance as a whole failed to secure a majority of seats in the legislature.
In the meanwhile, anti-integrated resorts (IR) parties gained seats in the legislature. The anti-casino Tokyo Citizens First won 31 seats, the Japanese Communist Party 19 seats, and the Constitutional Democratic Party won 15 seats.
Suga is pursuing Shinzo Abe’s desire to exploit casino resorts as entertainment and leisure destinations to boost and develop Japan’s tourism sector. However, because there are many opponents to casinos, only four communities have declared their candidacy for one of the three operating licenses. According to gaming specialists in the area, Tokyo is expected to enter the IR competition if Yokohama abandons its casino ambitions.
In addition to casinos, persistent COVID-19 concerns were a key reason for the LDP’s loss of seats in Sunday’s Tokyo Metropolitan Election. Japan reported 716 new cases over the weekend, a five-week peak, due to a coronavirus comeback driven by variant strains.
Tokyo is currently preparing for the Summer Olympics in 2021. The postponed games in 2020 will begin on July 23. Suga, who took over as Prime Minister when Abe stood down due to health concerns in September 2020, is betting that a successful Olympics would help him win the general election in 2021. Even if it goes off without triggering a COVID-19 spike, a Tokyo Broadcasting System exit survey conducted on Sunday revealed that 57 percent of respondents thought the 2021 Summer Games should be canceled.