Casino opponents gear up for public hearings

From August 17 to August 29, nine public hearings regarding the forthcoming IR Implementation Bill will be held around the country.

In both the mainstream press and in social media, anti-casino activists are mobilizing to make sure that the central government officials receive a real earful.

On Wednesday, three national lawmakers of the Japan Communist Party visited the Cabinet Office headquarters for IR promotion and demanded that the hearings be conducted in a “transparent” fashion. Their broad concern is that these hearing might be tightly controlled by the government in order to marginalize anti-casino voices, which opinion polls show outnumber proponents by roughly a 3-to-1 margin in the country at large.

Most of Japan’s left-leaning internet and non-mainstream media have taken up the anti-casino cause as a major theme in their national news coverage.

The first hearing in Tokyo is already scheduled to broadcast live over the internet for its entire two-hour duration, symbolizing the keen public interest felt in some quarters.

The Ehime Shimbun, a regional newspaper on Shikoku island, editorialized yesterday regarding the hearings, “The legally-required ‘national debate’ has not taken place, and so it is unacceptable to prematurely allow this legislation to advance. Our chance to turn it back is now or never.”