Komeito establishes IR project team

    The ruling coalition Komeito party established its own independent project team on Wednesday to study issues surrounding the IR Implementation Bill, which is expected to be submitted to the Diet for consideration in the autumn extraordinary session.

    For several years, Buddhist-backed Komeito’s resistance was believed to be the main political obstacle to national legislation endorsing the establishment of casinos in Japan, but last December the party leaders allowed its lawmakers to vote freely on the basic IR Promotion Bill. Most of the party’s lawmakers joined the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the opposition Nippon Ishin party in pushing the legislation through. Notably, however, the senior party leaders voted against the government’s bill.

    The project team established on Wednesday is under the chairmanship of Kiyohiko Toyama, who is perhaps the single-most vocal supporter of IRs within the party. He was the party’s representative, for example, to the Japan Gaming Congress held in May.

    The function of the Komeito project team is to coordinate party opinion in favor of the IR Implementation Bill and is quite likely to ask for some revisions to the IR Implementation Bill as it is submitted to the Diet for parliamentary review.

    As the de facto political wing of the Buddhist lay organization Soka Gakkai, the Komeito lawmakers who remain skeptical about IRs are expected to demand the passage of robust legislation to combat gambling addiction and to carefully scrutinize the relationship between casinos and public morals.