At Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s urging, Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) indefinitely shelved a bill that would legalize casinos in the country.

Instead the LDP will focus on getting national security bills passed that would overhaul post-war defense policies or reinterpret the constitution, and if passed by both houses of the Diet would allow limited forms of collective self-defense to be recognized. While the lower house passed the collective of bills in July, and Abe extended the current parliamentary session by three months, it is still uncertain if the unpopular bills will be passed by the lower house. It is clear however, that the security bills take precedence over the casino legislation for Abe and the LDP.

As proponents of the casino bill and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe began to lose political power, so did the prospect of the integrated resort bill passing in the current session, and no approximate date for presentation of the bill has been given. Abe and his party’s approval ratings have fallen below 40 percent, and public trust over the very real possibility of enactment of the security bills, is collapsing. For that reason, it appears that the prime minister didn’t want to expend more political capital pushing other legislation that is both controversial and unpopular.

Along with approximately two-thirds of the Japanese public, Japan’s Komeito (political party) fear that legalized casinos will increase crime and gambling addiction in Japan, and have a negative cultural influence on its children, according to a Tokyo Shimbun survey.

Komeito hasn’t changed its position on the casino legislation, according to Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi, and added that because gambling addiction has yet to be sufficiently addressed; Diet deliberations during the current session are unlikely. However, Members of the LDP are hopeful that the casino legislation with be addressed during this falls expected extraordinary session, but bills concerning labor standard laws will take precedence.

When and if the casino legislation passes, Japan could become second to the U.S., the world’s largest gaming market. Interest in investing has been expressed by major casino operators, among others, in Asia.

The hope was to have Japan’s first resort casino opened in time for the 2020 Olympic Games to be held there, but as time goes on, that is looking increasingly doubtful.

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