Monday, February 27, 2006

Still hoping

I found a reference to this article (on a Chinese news site, oddly enough) about Japan again looking at legalizing casino gambling.

Japan to legalize casino to promote tourism

TOKYO, Feb. 25 (Xinhuanet) -- Japanese ruling Liberal Democratic Party is to formulate a basic policy around June to legalize casinos in the country with the aim of attracting more foreign tourists, local reports said on Saturday.

A member of a subcommittee on casinos launched under the LDP's special committee on tourism said the party should expedite discussions as Japan should lift its ban on gambling parlors after Singapore did so in April last year and as Thailand is studying to follow suit, Kyodo News said.

According to the subcommittee member, facts prove that casinos are big attractions for foreign tourists in many countries that have legalized them and help to boost the economy and international competition.

Sources disclosed that the subcommittee plans to work out an interim report in late April after discussing what gambling houses should be like if they are to be legalized and what measures should be taken about the Penal Code banning casinos.

Opponents, however, worry about public order in communities hosting such facilities and possible negative influence on young people.

I haven't checked Japanese news sites for the original information yet, but I'll see if it can find it.

I hope they work something out, although from the tone of the article I suspect they may not allow casinos in Tokyo but in some controlled location. As long as I can take a train there, fine with me. Hell, come to think of it, outlying regions might fight for the right to open a casino in their area in order to bring in tourist and tax dollars.

If they start opening casinos here, I'll be on one of the first trains out to visit them. And I'll bet they'll have some nice ones - Japanese can have a lot of spending money for such things if they put their minds to it. Harrah's, Wynn, everyone, get in on this quick!

Update: I found this article on the Goo news page, which says largely the same thing. Feel free to Babelfish it, but as usual for Japanese to English machine translations, it won't make a lot of sense unless you already pretty much know what it is saying.

So the LDP has set a target of this summer for their general plan of rescinding the anti-gambling laws. They have a committee that will meet weekly to discuss the issues and concerns associated with the plan, and they will deliver a report of the findings at the end of April. Although some areas of Japan have been outspoken in calling for a removal of the ban (including Tokyo metropolitan area, Osaka, and Miyazaki prefecture), there are concerns about the idea, particularly with its effect on crime.

The governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, was apparently pushing hard for a casino area in the Odaiba area of Tokyo, then being built up into what was hoped to become a new business, leisure, and entertainment center of Tokyo. Ishihara, you may recall, was the one who wrote "The Japan That Can Say No," and is not afraid to speak his mind, so I'm glad he's on our side for this one.

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