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Shinzo Abe: IRs to assist post-Covid tourism recovery

In the House of Representatives Budget Committee, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe effectively reasserted his government’s intention to move forward with IR development, suggesting that it even had a role to play in reviving the tourism industry after the Covid-19 crisis.

“Tourism is once again recovering,” the prime minister said, “IRs will support our efforts to become an advanced tourism nation.”

Abe was vague, however, about the timeline: “Considering various issues that may arise, the necessary preparations will carefully proceed,” he said.

Minister for Land, Infrastructure and Transport Kazuyoshi Akabane added that the presumption was that the IRs would open in the latter half of the 2020s.

Investor interests left behind in Japan IR race: Mihara

The interests of investors in Japanese IRs have largely been left behind, spelling potential problems for the future of IR development in the country, according to Toru Mihara, the chair of the National Council on Gaming Legislation.

Speaking at a panel of ICE Asia Digital, Mihara even raised the spectre of fewer than the maximum three IRs actually being built, as some candidate local governments may be forced to drop out if they cannot develop sufficiently attractive plans together with the investors that remain.

Mihara stated that it was his “gut feeling” that the national government would press ahead with the current IR development schedule, even if it is counterproductive to long term results, because any change in the timeline would require a new Cabinet resolution.

He also noted that the national government and local governments have been trapped in sort of circular reasoning, with the national government pointing out that the local governments haven’t asked for a schedule delay, and the local governments waiting for signals from the national government as to whether or not there would be a delay, and also not wanting to risk having their candidacies dropped by stepping out of line and requesting such a delay.

At any rate, the answers will come by the July 26 deadline for the issuance of the IR Basic Plan.

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