The results of the survey were released on the day of a scheduled vote by Japans politicians on casino legislation. The survey, which took place Dec. 3-4, showed that only 34% were in favor of casino legalization, while 57% were opposed. This represents a 10 % increase for those in favor of legalization since a similar poll was conducted in October 2014 that reported 63% opposed casino gambling with only 24% in favor of overturning a ban.
Females who responded to the poll were firmly opposed to legalizing casino gambling with a 65% majority, with only 24% of females in favor. Males were evenly split. A slight majority of older respondents were opposed. Those who support the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) also showed a slight majority for opposing casino gambling by a 50% to 44% vote.
A House of Representatives Cabinet committee, on Friday Dec. 2 passed the Integrated Resorts Promotion (IR) bill that will remove the prohibition on casino gambling via a constitutional amendment. This bill is a necessary precursor to a future bill that would define casino licensing and regulation in more detail. With that vote secure, proponents of the casino bill within the LDP will try to bring the IR bill up for a plenary session vote in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Dec 6. If all goes well and the vote is a favorable majority, the IR would then go to the legislature’s upper chamber for a similar vote. This would have to take place before the current session of the Diet ends on Dec. 14. This is not at all a given, since the bill’s first stop in the Upper House is a committee chaired by a member of the anti-casino Democratic Party.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is a firm supporter for casino legalization. With the Japanese economy still in the doldrums, Abe believes that casino legalization would be a great boost for Japan’s tourism industry which would in turn kick start the economy.
Abe announced that he would be attending a memorial ceremony at Pearl Harbor with US President Obama tomorrow, Dec. 7, 2016, to pay respects to the servicemen killed in the attack by Japanese airplanes on the US Pacific fleet. By attending the memorial, cynics in the media are accusing Abe of deflecting attention away from the upcoming casino gambling vote in an attempt to successfully sneak the IR bill through the Diet.